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Preventing Data Loss in MS Outlook

You may be backing up your Outlook files frequently so that you can recover the data – emails, contacts, calendars, tasks, and more – whenever you reinstall MS Outlook after a format of System Drive. This article offers you a tip that will allow you to set up your MS Outlook once and forget about backing up the contacts, emails, etc.

NOTE: This tip is applicable only for MS Outlook 2007 and MS Outlook 2010. Also, when I refer to “system drive”, I am referring to the drive where you installed the operating system(s).

Creating a New File on a Separate Disk/Partition

First, you need to create a new PST file for Outlook where you will copy all your existing data – mails, contacts, tasks, and more. You will create this file on a separate partition or on a different hard disk. To do this, follow these steps:

1 Open File and click on Export/Import in MS Outlook 2007. In MS Outlook 2010, you will find the Export option under File>Options. Click on the Advanced option and then click on Export

2 In the window that appears, select Export to a File and click on Next.


3 In the next window, select Outlook Data File (*.pst) and click on Next.


4 In the next window, select the topmost option that says Outlook. You also see a triangle preceding it. If you click the triangle, you can see what all is being copied to the new file. Towards the bottom of the window, you can see an option saying Include Subfolders. Check that box, so that all data is copied to the new file. Click Next to continue.


5. In the Export Outlook Data File window, click on Browse to select a location that is not on your system drive. Select a different partition that you think you will never need to format. If you have a secondary hard disk only for data storage, it is an even better option. Create a new folder named Outlook and save the file as Outlook.pst. Click on Replace duplicates with Items exported and click Finish.


This explains how to set up copying all your MS Outlook items to a different drive so that you do not lose any data even if you lose access to the system drive. Now you have to set up MS Outlook so that all the new mail and other data is stored to this file by default.

Setting up MS Outlook to Store Data to New File on Other Hard Disk/Partition

Once you have formatted the system drive and reinstalled MS Outlook with your email accounts, you can go ahead and change settings so that MS Outlook stores all future data to the new, remote file created in the above section. Follow these steps:

1 Open MS Outlook and click on Add New Accounts. Select the Data Files tab. You can see Outlook.pst and other files related to your email accounts. Remember that this Outlook.pst is not the one we created in the above section. This one is stored in the system folder, under your user profile. You can see the path in the dialog (ref to the image below). You can see a check mark next to it. This means that all new data will be added to this data file (But we will change this setting as we want all our future data to be delivered to the file we created).


2. Now you have to remove this Outlook.pst so that MS Outlook stores all data to the new Outlook.pst file you created on a separate partition/drive. Click on Add and browse to the location of new file. Select the new Outlook.pst and click on OK. This adds the new Outlook.pst to the Data Files dialog. At this point, the window will look something like this:


3. For all new data – contacts, task, pop mails, etc. – to be stored in this new Outlook file, you need to make it default. Select the new Outlook.pst (You can tell the difference by seeing its location in the window) and click on Set as Default. Close the window.


4. Now you have to remove the Outlook.pst created by MS Outlook as it is of no use and will confuse you. To remove it, you need to close and reopen MS Outlook. After restart, open Add Accounts and again click on the Data Files tab so that you can view the data files. You can see that your new Outlook.pst is now the default (there is a check mark next to it). To remove the older Outlook.pst created by MS Outlook, select it and click Remove. MS Outlook will present you with a warning. Ignore it and click OK.


That’s it. You are done configuring MS Outlook to deliver all new POP messages to the new Outlook file that you created on a different drive/disk. Any new task, contact, schedules you create are added to this new Outlook file. Thus, you can forget about backing up the contacts, mails, etc as they are not being stored on the system drive anymore.

~Arun Kumar