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Email Packrats: Another Way to Save

Email Packrats: Another Way to Save

The method mentioned above is great for individual emails, but what if you need to re-format your hard drive, change computers, or do a backup? Well, you can save the entire file using this method.

Saving from Outlook Express

The biggest trick (problem) is figuring out where your particular e-mail program keeps all your messages. Outlook Express uses small databases to store your information. Once you figure out where those databases are, you can copy them, back them up, or do whatever else to it your little heart desires.

If you are running a newer version of Outlook Express, it’s fairly easy to figure out where your e-mail databases are. Just hit the Tools menu, Options . On the screen that pops up, click the Maintenance tab, then click the Store Folder button. Outlook Express will show you where it’s keeping your e-mail databases.

Note that you can also change this location should you want it to be easier to find. I keep mine in a folder named ” outlook express ” in the “My Documents” folder. That way, all I have to do it back up my “My Documents” folder and I automatically have my e-mail backed up.


If you don’t have that option, don’t worry. Outlook Express usually keeps your e-mail database(s) in the following location:

C:\Windows\Application data\Microsoft\Outlook Express

If you have your computer set-up for multiple users, your Outlook Express mail is probably in:

C:\Windows\Application data\Identities\ID NUMBER\Microsoft\Outlook Express

Note that the “ID NUMBER” folder above will probably be a folder that uses an alphanumeric code for it’s name.

If for some reason you don’t see the Outlook Express folder in the above location, right-click your Start button , select Find (or Search), and enter *.dbx in the Named field (make sure you select your C drive from the “look in” drop down box). This will bring up these ” dbx ” files, which live in the folder you’re looking for. Note that on some older versions of Outlook Express, these may have been “mbx” files, so if you can’t find *.dbx files, try *.mbx .

Here’s a screen shot of a Win XP search:


Once you’ve located these files, keep in mind that all of this information may not fit onto a floppy. You may need either a zip disk or CD-R for storage. My e-mail files are 246 MB in size!

As for getting the e-mail restored, just copy and paste it back into whatever directory it’s stored in on the new (or newly formatted) computer. If for some reason your information doesn’t seem to transfer despite being in the folder, delete your Local Folders folder (on the new machine / install) and re-start Outlook Express. That should do it.

Saving from Outlook (not Express)

What you do is export to PST format. Click File , then click Import and Export and choose to Export to a File . On the next screen choose Personal Folder File (.pst). You can save your entire Inbox, Drafts, and Sent—but you have to individually select each. If your Inbox contains sub-folders, be sure to check the box that includes those (or you can archive each Inbox sub-folder separately).

If you’re setting up your e-mail on a new PC, it’s very easy to just import the PST folders and open in Outlook.

Web based e-mail is another matter though—the ability to save / backup varies from service to service, so check your help screens for something like “Export mail”.