Despite the growing prevalence of enterprise instant messaging (IM) services, email continues to be the predominant method of communication. These email services allow you to communicate with friends and colleagues, and create user accounts on popular web services, making them essential for all web users.

One popular option, especially in the enterprise, is Microsoft Outlook. This email service is available through the Outlook website and the more powerful desktop application version with Microsoft Office.

Backing up emails on the desktop version of Outlook 2010

When using the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook, your emails are stored locally on your device. While your Exchange Mail server may have its own copy of your mailbox, there are circumstances where a local backup is beneficial.

To get started, load up your version of Outlook 2010 by clicking your desktop icon. You can also load Outlook 2010 by pressing Windows + R on the keyboard and typing outlook.exe into the run window.

The application will load, and you should see your Inbox appear.

We need to go into the settings window to backup our Outlook 2010 emails. Start by clicking File in the top left corner, and going to Options. A window titled Outlook Options will appear.

Next, go to the Advanced tab. You should see a button called Export. Click this to continue.

INFO – We are going to be creating something called a .pst file. This stands for personal storage table and is the backup format used by Microsoft Outlook.

You should have a window titled Import and Export Wizard. Choose Export to a file in the actions selection box, and click Next. As mentioned, we are going to create a .pst file, so select the Outlook Data File (.pst) option.

This next section allows you to specify the folder you wish to export. You can export a single folder like your Inbox, or the entirety of your email account by clicking on your email address. For now, select Inbox and click Next.

Next, you need to choose the save location. Click Browse and choose the location where you want the file saved. In our example, we chose the Desktop. You can also change the File Name by deleting backup and typing your desired name. Make sure that the file extension .pst remains at the end; otherwise, Windows will not be able to identify the file type. Now press OK.

You also have three options for dealing with duplicate entries. Select Replace Duplicates if you want to overwrite your .pst with a new backup while retaining any other files already contained within the backup. If you click Allow duplicate items, you will retain duplicate copies, albeit with a (1) as the names cannot be exactly the same when saving. Finally, Do not export duplicate items will detect any existing files that match, and skip over them during the backup process.

Now click Finish.

Outlook will prompt you to create a password for this backup.pst file. This password is optional, but we recommend using one to stop unauthorised access to your emails. If you want to skip creating a password, just click OK. Otherwise, type a password and then click OK.

Now the .pst file will save, and your backup will be created. Check the save location specified earlier to ensure the file has been created successfully.

WARNING – By not setting a password, anyone with access to this .pst file can import your emails, and read their contents. Again, we reiterate the importance of setting a password, as this poses a security risk.

Restoring your backup using a .pst file in Outlook 2010

Your .pst file is a backup of your chosen email folder, and you may wish to restore it in the event of data loss.

To do this, start by clicking File in the top left and go to Account Settings.

In this window, you should see a tab called Data Files. Click the tab, and select the Add… option. This allows you to add your .pst file back into Outlook 2010.

Browse for the location where you saved your .pst file, and click OK with the file selected.

If you set a password, you will need to type it in the Outlook Data File Password window that appears. If you did not set a password, you can return to the main Outlook 2010 window.

If Account Settings is still open, click Close to return to your mailbox.

You will see a new Outlook Data File has appeared in the left-hand side of Outlook 2010. Click on the file, and input your password again if you have one set.

Now, click the small arrow to expand your Outlook Data File. You should see all of the contents from the backup you just made.

From here, you can click and drag any items you want to restore to your mailbox. Do this by selecting Inbox under the Outlook Data File, and dragging them into the folders under your email address above. You will notice that the files are moved, rather than copied. Continue until you have restored the items you need, and then we can remove the Outlook Data File.

Go back to File in the top left, and select Account Settings again. Go to the Data Files tab and select the Outlook Data File. Click Remove, and select Yes when asked if you want to remove the file.

Now, you have restored your emails from the .pst file and cleaned up your Inbox ready for use.

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