Betty from Southern California writes:
My hard disk recently crashed. Fortunately I had several different back-up systems in place so I lost none of my documents, pictures, and music. I did lose all my email contacts and saved email. I use Outlook 2010. Under my Outlook Inbox I had many folders into which I would drag the email messages I wanted to save. I had assumed that these would be in my documents directory, and would be saved with my other files and backed up. I now know that is wrong, and that my files are gone. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again – but can’t find where Outlook saves my contacts and saved emails! Can you tell me where to look? What is the best way to save these items?
Considering how important email communication has become, both for personal and work use, it’s a strange oversight that the Microsoft Windows backup program doesn’t automatically save your Outlook messages or contacts by default. If you have a large number of contacts and important messages that need to always be available, even in the event of a hard drive crash, there is a way to backup this data, however.
Navigate to the “File” menu at the upper-left corner of Outlook and click the “Open” button at the left side of the window. Although it may seem odd, you actually reach the exporting options by clicking the “Import” button, which is marked with an icon of two arrows pointing in different directions.. If you are using the earlier 2007 edition of Outlook, instead click “Import and Export” in the “File” menu.
When the import and export wizard pops up on the screen, click the option labeled “Export to a File” and select the “Next” button.
If you want to back up all your email messages, or even just messages in one specific folder, select the “Outlook Data File (PST)” option (this is instead labeled as “Personal Folder File” in Outlook 2007). To backup your contacts rather than actual email messages, choose the “Comma Separated Values (Windows)” option. Click “Next” to move to the next screen of the export wizard.
Select which folder or type of file you want to export in the list of options at the center of the window. For instance, click “Contacts” to backup all your saved email contacts, or instead click “Inbox” to save all the messages saved in that folder. If you’ve created various sub-folders in your Inbox that contain messages you need to save, be sure to select the check box labeled “Include Subfolders.” Click “Next” after choosing the appropriate option.
Click the “Browse” button and then double-click the folder where you want your messages or contacts to be saved. While you can back up the data to any folder on your computer, you should instead save the file to an external location, such as a USB flash drive. Click “Finish” to back up your Outlook data.
If you later experience a problem that causes you to lose your emails or contacts, return to the “Import” screen in Outlook and select “Import From Another Program or File” instead of “Export to a File.” Double-click the backup file you saved previously to restore your email messages or contacts.
~ Ty Arthur