Where is my Microsoft Outlook data stored? Where are my contacts? How do I backup my calendar?
Those are common questions Outlook users ask.
Everything in your Outlook folders are either in a mailbox on an Exchange Server or Outlook.com or in Personal Folders .pst files, or if you use IMAP, they might be in "this computer only" folders on your computer.
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 2013/2016 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 in the newer versions of Outlook.
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 > Open > Outlook Data Files 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. Note: you need to use the ForcePSTPath key, not ForceOSTPath key with IMAP accounts in Outlook 2013, even though they use OST files now.
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 File Locations | Personal Folders Files | Offline Folders File
Other Files | Accounts | Tools | Notes | More Information
Windows File Locations
Where do you find these files? You can always start by using Windows Search to locate the particular file types. You may need to browse to Windows Explorer's Organize | Folder and Search Options | View tab and select Show hidden files and folders. In Windows 8, look for the Show Hidden files setting on Windows Explorer's View ribbon.
New Personal Folders Files (*.pst) are created in the Outlook Files folder in your My Documents folder.
You'll find Outlook stores the *.ost, *.oab, and extend.dat, in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.
POP3 data files can be moved easily be moved to other locations, while you need to use specific steps to move Exchange, Outlook.com, and EAS data files. 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: Type or paste the following lines into Windows 7's Start menu "Start Search" field or in the address bar of Windows Explorer to open these folders:
To access the folder holding the toolbar, VBA, send & receive settings, and nickname files, copy and paste:
To see the *ost, *.oab files, copy and paste:
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 My 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 folders used by Exchange server, Outlook.com, and IMAP.||.ost||Local\Microsoft\Outlook|
|RSS feeds in Outlook 2013||.sharing.xml.obi||X||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. Also stored in an autocomplete stream file in the Local\Microsoft\Outlook folder.|
|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||.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|
|Outlook 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.|
Personal Folders Files
If you are not connecting to Microsoft Exchange Server or Outlook.com, your Outlook data is stored in one or more Personal Folders (.pst) files. If you use IMAP accounts, you can use a personal folders file for calendar and contacts or folders in the IMAP ost file.
Outlook 2013 (and newer) 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.
Offline Folders File
If you use Microsoft Exchange Server in cached mode, Outlook.com, or an IMAP account, you have an offline folders (.ost) file, one for each account. You don'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 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 QAT customizations 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
Personal Address Books are not supported in Outlook 2013. If you have a PAB, the contents need be imported into your Contacts folder.
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.
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.
Account information is held in the user's Windows registry, not in a file, at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Profiles. Note: Outlook 2013 moves the profile from Windows Messaging Subsystem.
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 exactly the same when you restore it, the profile will be corrupt.
A free tool to back up a single Microsoft Outlook folder whenever needed. Create an almost instant Outlook folder backup or restore selected Outlook folder data straight from the Outlook toolbar. Restore Outlook folder to the exact state of any previous backups. Back up Outlook folder in just a few clicks, the program will proceed even is Outlook is closed. Instant backup and recovery of a selected Outlook folder in just a few clicks. Restore only those items that have been removed or updated.
Using Safe PST Backup, you can back up your Outlook in any situation. Use Safe PST Backup for migration and the whole Outlook data files you have created will be backed up to the last date. Back up Email archive, Contacts, Calendar and other folders automatically. Incremental backup will be done regardless if Microsoft Outlook is running or not. Updated Safe PST Backup 3.00 allows to filter data by more parameters. Added single panel to set backup rules without configuration file
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 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.
Save all your Outlook settings including Emails, Contacts, Tasks, your Calendar, Notes, Journal entries, Email accounts, Outlook rules, Signatures and many more
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.
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.
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.
Syncsi for Outlook allows synchronizing, share or backup Outlook data in an easy way. Use portable storage devices (USB flash drives, memory cards, external hard disks) to transfer Outlook data.
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.
The .PST File Has a Different Format and Folder Size Limit in Outlook 2003
Synchronizing Outlook on two machines -- including links to web-based services that can store your Outlook data online
Housekeeping and Message Management Tools for Outlook
Outlook and Exchange/Windows Messaging Backup and Dual-Boot
Moving Outlook to a New Computer
How to create a new profile (Video Tutorial)
I found the article very useful, but have one question: where is conditional formatting for certain e-mail senders and recipients stored? I create conditional formatting groups and assign a different color to each group. This makes it easier to tell at a glance if my In Box contains important e-mails. Since the settings have to be created individually for each sender in the In Box and each recipient in the Out Box, they represent a lot of work. Hence my interest in having a backup.
Diane, you mention using Microsoft Personal Folder Backup utility for Outlook 2013 32bit, However, the link you provide appears to be saying it doesn't work on OL 13. Could you clarify? I'm using OL 13 on Windows 8.1, both 64-bit versions. Is it possible to use the backup tool?
it will work with outlook 2010 and 2013 as long as you set the registry key.
I imported the registry key above, then tried to install the backup tool and got the following error:
Setup has detected that you do not have Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, or
Outlook 2003 installed on this machine. Before this download can be
installed you must first install Outlook or an Office family product that
includes Outlook. To find out more information about Microsoft Office
go to https://www.microsoft.com/office/.
Unfortunately, if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. You'll need to use another solution - the pst files are stored in the My Documents folder and it's easy enough to copy the pst file while outlook is closed.
(I'll double check it again and verify if it works-I bet i tested it with the MSI install and not the C2R install which most people have. In any event, I'll retest.)
ok... thank you.
As I look to automate my outlook data backup process, If I included my ost files in my automatic hard drive backup process... and I wish to open one of the old ost files (so I could find information that I may have updated at some point in error... like over-writing a correct contact phone number or I may have accidentally deleted an attachment within a task)... You mention I could open the old ost if I had the account that created it (I'm not sure what you mean exactly) and I'd need a commercial program to export the data to a pst (do you have a program you'd recommend?).
Again, thank you so much for your help and experience.
Close. Outlook is funky about opening an old ost file. It's possible to switch out the ost file in a profile, but but outlook will complain about it not being in sync and may start to sync it. It should work if you set outlook offline before renaming the current ost and dropping the old ost in the file. If the profile doesn't exist or you don't want to swap out, you can convert the ost to a pst file using 3rd party software. See OST to PST for additional information.
How do you recommend backing up the data on my Hosted Exchange Account. I realize it's usually the administrator's job... but I'm concerned with two things:
First - what if the company hosting my Exchange Account shuts down.
Second - what if I accidentally delete or change data that I'd like to retrieve from an earlier date.
Currently, each week, I export each of my Hosted Exchange Accounts to a .pst file. I personally hate manually doing it... and I'm not sure if its the best solution.
- Rich364 -
As long as you are using Cached mode, you should be fine if the servers are down, they go out of business, or you leave your company - you can go offline and export to a pst.
Accidental deletions can generally be recovered within a few days, often up to 30 days later, when you use exchange - using the Recover deleted items command.
Otherwise, manual is the only way to do it when you are using Exchange. The ost can only be opened by the account that created it - if you copy it as a backup, you'll need a commercial program to export it to a pst.