Last reviewed on October 2, 2014   —  7 Comments

We often get questions like “Where is my Microsoft Outlook data stored?” “Where are my contact?” “How do I backup my calendar?”

Everything, your mail, calendar, and contacts in your Outlook folders are either in a mailbox on an Exchange Server or in Personal Folders .pst files on your computer.

Backup and dual-booting between Windows versions all involve using the same files. There is no backup process built into Outlook. To back up, simply exit Outlook, then copy the files you want to back up. Below we provide a chart of Outlook 2010 file locations, followed by notes on particular files. Note that unlike older versions of Outlook, many configuration files are stored in the mailbox or PST.

If you are want to copy back and forth between machines so you can use the same information at the office and at home, for example. you’ll need to copy at least the pst file. If you have Outlook profiles, name them the same on both machines, so you can use the same files easily. Use File tab | Account Settings to open the pst files that you copied.

See Moving Microsoft Outlook to a New Computer for the steps needed to move Outlook files to a new computer.

See How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) for the proper way to move IMAP and Internet Subscription folders.

If you dual-boot, your profile can point to the same .pst and .ost files (stored in a location both OS’s can see), but you would need to copy other files to the correct location on the second operating system. Note that if you dual boot, you should use the same version of Outlook on both partitions for best results.

Windows XP File Locations | Vista & Win7 File Locations | Personal Folders Files
Offline Folders File | Personal Address Book | Other Files | Accounts
Microsoft Personal Folders Backup Utility | Tools | Notes | More Information

Vista and Windows 7/8 File Locations

Where do you find these files? You can always start by using your operating system’s Search or Find command to locate the particular file types. On Vista you may need to browse to Windows Explorer’s Organize | Folder and Search Options | View tab and select Show hidden files and folders.

New to Outlook 2010, Personal Folders Files (*.pst) are in the Outlook Files folder in your My Documents folder.

Vista (and Win7) replaces Documents and Settings folder path with a Users path. As a result, you’ll find Outlook stores the *.ost, *.oab, and extend.dat, in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.

Live Connector message stores cannot be moved but POP3 and Exchange offline or cache storage can be moved to other locations. See How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) for the proper way to move IMAP and Internet Subscription folders.

All other Outlook configuration files are stored in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook and cannot be moved.

Tip: Copy the following lines and paste into Vista or Windows 7’s Start menu “Start Search” field to open these folders:

To access the folder holding the toolbar, VBA, send & receive settings, and nickname files, copy and paste:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook

To see the *ost, *.oab files, copy and paste:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

Note: Storing Personal Folders on an network file share is not recommended and may cause corruption and data loss.

Type of File Filename or Extension Outlook Profile Specific Folder path under C:\Users\<user>\AppData\
Personal Folders (including SharePoint Lists) .pst   New profiles: pst files for POP3 accounts are created in your Mt Documents\Outlook Files folder.

If you are using a profile created in an older version of Outlook, pst files are in Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (default, but .pst files can be anywhere on system)

Offline and Cached mode folders used by Exchange server and the Outlook connector. .ost   Local\Microsoft\Outlook
RSS feeds in Outlook 2010 .sharing.xml.obi X Local\Microsoft\Outlook
Installed Add-ins extend.dat   \Local\Microsoft\Outlook
This file does not need to be backed up, Outlook will create a new copy.
Nicknames for AutoComplete Now stored in the Mailbox or Personal folders file.
Customized print settings OutlPrnt   Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Customized Ribbon & QAT settings olk*.officeUI   Local\Microsoft\Office\
Navigation bar customizations .xml files X Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Send/Receive group settings (Outlook 2002 and later) .srs files X Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Macros and VBA programs VbaProject.otm   Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
Signatures .rtf, .htm, and .txt files X \Roaming\Microsoft\Signatures
Stationery .htm files   \Roaming\Microsoft\Stationery
Templates .oft files   \Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
Dictionary .dic files   \Roaming\Microsoft\Proof
Outlook 2007 Safe and Blocked senders lists Stored in message store as a hidden message   Can export each list to a text file as backup. Tools, Options, Junk Email options. Export each list separately.

Windows XP File Locations

Where do you find these files? You can always start by using your operating system’s Search or Find command to locate the particular file types. You may need to use Tools | Folder Options | View in Windows Explorer and select Show hidden files and folders.
New to Outlook 2010, Personal Folders Files (*.pst) are in the Outlook Files folder in your My Documents folder.
When using Windows XP, Outlook stores *.ost, *.oab, and extend.dat in

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Extend.dat and MSN Connector message stores can not be moved. See How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) for the proper way to move IMAP and Internet Subscription folders.

All other Outlook configuration files are stored in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook and cannot be moved.

Tip: Copy and paste these lines in Windows Explorer address bar to open the folder:

To access the folder holding the toolbar, VBA, rules, and nickname files, copy and paste:
%USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

To see the *.ost, *.oab files, copy and paste:
%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Note: Storing Personal Folders on an network file share is not recommended and may cause corruption and data loss.

Type of File Name or Extension Outlook Profile Specific Folder Location under the User Account path (C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\)
Personal Folders .pst files   New profiles: pst files for POP3 accounts are created in your Mt Documents\Outlook Files folder.

If you are using a profile created in an older version of Outlook, pst files are in Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (default, but .pst files can be anywhere on system)

Offline and Cache folders used by Exchange server, Outlook connector. .ost files   Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook(default, can be moved to anywhere on the system)
Nicknames for AutoComplete Now stored in the Mailbox or Personal folders file.
Customized print settings OutlPrnt   \Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
Customized Ribbon settings  
Macros and VBA programs VbaProject.otm   \Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
Navigation bar customizations .xml files X \Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
Send/Receive group settings .srs files X \Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
Signatures .rtf, .htm, and .txt files X \Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures
Stationery .htm files   \Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery
Templates .oft files   \Application Data\Microsoft\Templates
Dictionary .dic files   \Application Data\Microsoft\Proof
Installed Add-ins extend.dat   Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
Do not backup or copy this file, Outlook will create a new copy.
Safe and Blocked senders lists Stored in mailbox as a hidden message   Can be exported from Tools, Options, Junk E-mail. Export each list separately.

Personal Folders Files

If you are not connecting to Microsoft Exchange Server, all your Microsoft Outlook data is stored in one or more Personal Folders (.pst) files.

Outlook 2010 creates new *.pst files in your My Documents folder, in a folder named Outlook Files. This will make it easier for you to backup your mail.

If you upgraded from an older version and did not make a new profile or pointed the new profile to the old *.pst files, check the properties for Personal Folders in File tab | Account Settings | Data Files tab to determine the exact location on your system.

Some people like to export a folder, such as Contacts, to a separate backup .pst file. That’s fine for the data, but it does not back up any folder customizations such as views and custom forms. If you want to back up those, too, copy the entire folder to a new .pst file instead of using the export feature.

Also see:

Offline Folders File

If you use Microsoft Exchange Server, you may have an offline or cache mode folders (.ost) file. You shouldn’t need to back it up, since you can always refresh it by synchronizing with the server. However, be sure you understand the procedure for Convert an Exchange Offline file (OST) to a Personal Folders file (PST). If something ever goes wrong with your Exchange Server mailbox, this technique can save time and information, but you must do it before you try to connect to the server again.

Ribbon and QAT

Beginning with Outlook 2010, the ribbon is customizable and it and the quick access toolbar (QAT) can be exported from the Outlook interface (File, Options, Customize Ribbon), either to share with other computers or users or as a backup.

The ribbon and QATcustomizations are stored in olk*.officeUI files at C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office. Each Outlook item type that has a customized ribbon will have an office.UI file.

Personal Address Book

Most Outlook users no longer use a PAB because the Personal Address Book (.pab file) is deprecated. If you still have a PAB, the contents need be imported into your Contacts folder. The *.pab will not open in Outlook 2010.

To Import the *.pab, go to File Tab | Open | Import. Choose Import from another program or file, then scroll down and choose Personal Address Book.

Other Files

Outlprnt file contains your custom print settings. This does not need to be backed up.

Some other miscellaneous files, not necessarily worth backing up:

  • Extend.dat — Information about installed add-ins. Will be recreated if you delete it.
  • Outitems.log — Outlook items to be placed automatically in the Journal
  • Offitems.log — Office items to be placed automatically in the Journal
  • Frmcache.dat — Outlook forms cache file. See How the Microsoft Outlook forms cache works.

Accounts

Account information is held in the user’s Windows registry, not in a file, at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles

While you could export this key, its not generally recommended because it contains absolute paths to files (in your user account folders) and information about installed add-ins. If the path is not exact when you restore it the profile will be corrupt.

If you want to back the key up so you can restore the profile to the same computer, you can use a command line to export the key (use a valid path for the exported file). Note: this command is all one line:

regedit /e C:\Users\username\Documents\outlook.reg HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles

Using the Microsoft Personal Folders Backup Utility

In order to use the Microsoft Personal Folder Backup utility with Outlook 2010, you need to add the following key to your Registry. This changes the shutdown behavior of Outlook 2010 back to the shutdown behavior of Outlook 2007 SP2.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\Addins\Microsoft.OutlookBackup.1
DWORD: RequireShutdownNotification
Value: 1

Ready to use reg file: RequireShutdownNotification

How to enable Personal Folders Backup add-in to work with Outlook 2010 (MSKB)

Tools

ABF Outlook Backup

Backup and restore Outlook data files, interface options, and settings. Backup and restore operations can be run from the command line, with your favorite Windows scheduling program for unattended operation. Supports Outlook 2010, 2007, 2003, 2002, and 2000.

BackRex Outlook Backup

BackRex Outlook Backup is a backup and restore tool for Microsoft Outlook. It allows you to backup address book, mail and other folders, mail accounts, message rules, signatures, stationery, and all personal settings. Backup jobs can be scheduled to run on a regular basis. Supports Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010.

Backup Outlook Data Files using a Batch (.bat)

How to use a Windows batch file to backup your Outlook data files.

BackupMyFolder!

With BackupMyFolder! For Outlook, you will be enable to configure in one click the folders you want to backup, configure when to do the job and get a full history of previous backup runs. BackupMyFolder! for Outlook 200x and 2007 is FREE

BackupOutlook

Save all your Outlook settings including Emails, Contacts, Tasks, your Calendar, Notes, Journal entries, Email accounts, Outlook rules, Signatures and many more

Folder Backup for Outlook

Use Folder Backup to preserve Microsoft Outlook data, with 1-Click Backup from Microsoft Outlook toolbar and manual backup when needed. Instant backup and recovery of a selected Outlook folder in just a few clicks. Restore only those items that have been removed or updated. Compatible with Windows 8, Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365. Free and Pro versions available.

MessageExport for Outlook

MessageExport for Outlook is an add-in that helps you get your email out of Outlook in particular way. MessageExport lets you save selected or new email messages to different formats, including PDF, EML, MSG, GIF, TIF, HTML, MHT, CSV, txt, and others. MessageExport can convert, name and save Outlook email in a single operation. Includes a timer function, so MessageExport can run every xx minutes to process new emails in a specific Outlook folder and save it in text format on a network folder.

OutBack Plus

Backup your Outlook Personal Folders (.pst files) in a compressed, zip compatible, archive for a smaller and more easily managed file. All of your critical Outlook control files are included in the backup - Signatures, Stationery, Wizard Rules, etc are preserved for easy recovery. OutBack Plus allows you to restore the backup data to the same or another machine. Automatic reminder to backup after a set number of days - according to your needs. Works with all versions of Outlook, including Outlook 2010 32- and 64-bit.

Outlook 2003/2002 Add-in: Personal Folders Backup

The Personal Folders Backup download creates backup copies of your .PST files at regular intervals, in Outlook 2002 and later versions, making it easy to keep all of your Outlook folders safely backed up.

Outlook 2013 Backup Add-In

Outlook 2013 Backup Add-in works with Microsoft Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010. You can choose which pst files you want to backup. A configuration window is added to outlook to set the backup interval and destination directory. When outlook is closed, the program checks the last backup date and triggers the copy process if necessary.

Outlook Backup Email

Outlook Backup Emails is a handy tool to backup and restore Microsoft Outlook .pst files . The backup can be done manual or automatic at specified time intervals. It also work with Outlook Express and other email clients, and can be a good tool to move between pcs the Microsoft Outlook email by unexperienced users.

Safe PST Backup

Backup Outlook PST files automatically using Safe PST Backup, a Free tool to back up and archive email. Create backup of Contacts, Calendar, Tasks or other Microsoft Outlook Personal folders with a few clicks. The backup will be done in the background regardless of whether Outlook is running or not. Safe PST Backup solution uses incremental backup model to back up and transfer only changes made to Outlook items. Schedule and automatically back up Outlook at specified time intervals or back up selected PST files manually. Multi language support. Get more with Enterprise Edition. Version 2.50

Stellar Phoenix Mail Backup

An mail back up utility which allows to backup all the objects like emails, contacts, notes, calendars etc. Take incremental, differential and full backup to save backup at any location. Some of the other main features of backup software are: schedule backup process, preview of emails which could be recovered, feature to restore complete as well as selected emails etc. Software works with Outlook 2010 (32 bit), 2007, 2003, 2002.

Notes

If your network is set up so that you can use Outlook at any machine (“roaming profiles“), your Outlook files may be in a different location. Try using Start | Find to locate each type of file. If you don’t see any .pst files after you search, you may need to adjust the settings in Windows Explorer to show hidden and system files. Choose Tools | Folder Options, then switch to the View tab, and select Show hidden files and folders.

Personal Folders .pst files are among the files that are normally not included in a Windows 2000 (or later) offline files synchronization. However, you can edit the system policy that controls the file types so that .pst files can be included. See Error Message Files of This Type Cannot Be Made Available Offline.


Comments

  1. Susan says

    I deleted my cable in Florida and want to use my domain email addy now. I need to import my addresses but it's asking for a crv file. Where is that??????????????

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Was it a CSV? Did you export the addresses from your previous email account?

      If you used Outlook with the cable account, the addresses should be in a pst file on your hard drive. Look in My DocumentsOutlook files and also in
      %localappdata%microsoftoutlook
      (if using Windows 7 or Vista, copy and paste that line into the address bar of windows explorer then press enter.)

  2. Bruce Metelerkamp says

    Dianne. Your list of types of files on the Outlook 2010 backup page does not include QuickSteps. It appears there is no way to back these up for a user when refreshing their PC, especially when Exchange (2003) based?
    This post is about as close as I could come to seeing how to do it..
    h t t p: / / social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/office/en-US/295c2de6-ab86-40b1-8237-b591eaff0db9/can-users-share-quicksteps-in-outlook-2010-is-there-a-filesetting
    Thanks

    • Diane Poremsky says

      They are stored in the data file - if you use exchange, they'd be in the mailbox and available on all computers you use the profile on. As long as you have the mailbox (or original pst file, if using a pst), then you'll have the QS. QS only work in the data file they are in.

      Exporting/importing a pst does not include the QS, you need to open the data file they are in.

  3. Darren says

    Hi Diane - thanks for a great site full of really useful tips.
    I support a number of single person businesses who use Outlook 2010 as a POP3 mail client and I'm looking for a better way than just copying the .pst file to a thumb drive or external USB HDD. There are several commercial Outlook backup products on the market, and I was just wondering if you had a preference. Ideally, I want to capture all the settings so if the worst happened, and I had to reinstall everything, the Outlook archive would just restore all registry and other special settings at the same time.
    I think you had a batch file which may do this - it's not as elegant as single piece of software, but was interested in your opinion please.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Copying the pst to a thumbdrive is really all you need - not elegant, but it works. Or copy it to a cloud service (but because of the size, it's not always practical).

      If you want to save settings, you need to export the registry (which you can do with a command line in a batch file) and will probably want to backup files like signatures, custom.dic etc. The instructions to use a batch file are here - http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/config/backup-outlook-data-files-using-batch-bat/

      To export the registry use something like this to get office settings. The profile is under windows messaging subsystem and should only be restored on the same computer.
      REGEDIT /e %USERPROFILE%/Documents/backup.reg HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\

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