This post will describe how to easily backup your Outlook 2010 data file (PST file) that contains your e-mail, and then how to restore it in case you accidentally delete your mail or your data file is corrupted.
Backup your Outlook 2010 e-mail data file:
Backing up your PST file in this manner would be a smart thing to do before any big changes or updates to your computer, before you switch e-mail protocols (such as POP to IMAP), or just on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure your backups are recent.
First, we must first locate the storage file so that we can copy it.
Click on the File menu followed by Account Settings
In the Account Settings window, select the Data Files tab at the top. Then, select the account you would like to backup the data file for (if there is more than one), and select Open. Your account name will be different from the one in this example, and the actual location of your PST file will likely differ as well.
This will open up the directory that contains the data file in question. You should see something like this:
Now open your new backups directory, right-click in the window and select Paste. If you get an error at this point, Outlook is probably still open and actively using the file you are trying to create a copy of, so make sure Outlook is not running and you should be error-free.
Once the file copy completes, you will have a backup copy of your e-mail data file! If for some reason you lose your e-mail, you will be able to restore it from this backup. However, if your hard drive crashes, this backup will go with it, so I recommend copying this backup to a disc, external hard drive, or thumb drive so you can recover your mail in the event of a complete hard drive failure.
Restore a previously backed up Outlook 2010 e-mail data file:
Restoring a PST file that has been previously backed up is a piece of cake – it really is as easy as replacing the original PST with your backup file.
If you’ve followed the above instructions, then you have your PST file in a directory on your computer and on an external hard drive or disc. If the backup file on your computer was affected by the issue that caused your loss of mail (such as a complete hard drive failure), then you will have to use the external backup.
For this example, let’s say your hard drive didn’t crash and instead the original PST file was corrupted. Open your File menu followed by Account Settings, click on the Data File tab at the top of the new window, and note the location of your current, corrupt PST file.
In Outlook, click File followed by Exit, as you will need to be completely out of Outlook in order for the next steps to work. Then, navigate to the location of the original PST, as noted in the Data Files tab of the Account Settings. Right click on the original PST file and select Delete. Then, right click in that same window, select Paste, and the backed up data file that you copied in the previous step will be properly transferred to the original location. As long as it has the same name as the original Outlook PST file, Outlook won’t know the difference. When you open Outlook again, you will automatically be using the PST backup, and should be able to view your mail from the point at which it was backed up.
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