Backup Outlook Messages or Folders Using Archive

One way to back up e-mail messages is to use the Outlook AutoArchive feature. Archiving means moving messages to an archive folder at regularly scheduled intervals.

The first time that you run Outlook, AutoArchive is turned on by default and runs every 14 days. You can change how often AutoArchive runs, specify the Outlook data file (.pst) used to store archived items, and choose when items in your Outlook folders are subject to being archived. Expired items are mail and meeting items whose content is no longer valid after a certain date, such as a meeting you had four months ago that still appears on your calendar. Although an expiration date is optional, you can define it at the time you create the item or at a later date. When the item expires, it's unavailable and has a strike-out mark through it.

Outlook 2010/2013

The AutoArchive settings can be changed.

  1. Select the File tab.
  2. Select Options.
  3. On the left, select Advanced.
  4. Under AutoArchive, click AutoArchive Settings.
  5. Select the Run AutoArchive every n days check box, and then specify how often to run AutoArchive.
  6. Select any other options that you want. You can choose to have old items deleted automatically at AutoArchive.


  • If you change the archive file listed under Move old items to, this new file will be used each time that AutoArchive runs.
  • Set the default folder options first, and then customize individual folder settings. Otherwise, you may unintentionally change the default settings.
  • For more information about AutoArchive settings, see AutoArchive settings explained.

You can also manually back up and archive items, in addition to AutoArchive or as a replacement. Manual archiving provides flexibility, and allows you to specify exactly which folders are included in the archive, and which archive Outlook Data File (.pst) is used.

To manually archive Outlook items, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab
  2. Click Cleanup Tools.
  3. Click Archive.
  4. Click the Archive this folder and all subfolders option, and then click the folder that you want to archive. Any subfolder of the folder you select is included in this manual archive.
  5. Under Archive items older than, enter a date.
  6. If you do not want to use the default file or location, under Archive file, click Browse to specify a new file or location. Browse to find the file that you want, or enter the file name, then click OK. The destination file location appears in the Archive file box.
  7. Select the Include items with "Do not AutoArchive" checked check box to include any items that might be individually marked to be excluded from automatic archiving. This option does not remove that exclusion from these items, but instead ignores the Do not AutoArchive check box for this archive only.

Outlook 2007

The AutoArchive settings can be changed.

  • Go to Tools and choose Options. Click on the Other tab and choose AutoArchive. You can change when the AutoArchive function runs and you can have it prompt you before it runs.
  • You can also change the settings for each folder, right click on the folder in the folder list and choose Properties. Click on the AutoArchive tab and create the archive policy.

To Manually archive a folder:

  1. On the Go menu, click Folder List.
  2. Click the folder that you want to archive. On the File menu, click Archive.
  3. Click one of the following options:
    Archive all folders to their AutoArchive settings Allows you to use your AutoArchive settings to archive messages in the top level folder.
    Archive this folder and all the subfolders Allows you to archive the folder and all of its contents using the options available in the Archive dialog box.
  4. In the Archive items older than list, choose a date from the date picker.
  5. To include items that you previously selected not to archive, select the Include items with "Do not AutoArchive" checked check box.
    Note: To see if items have the Do not AutoArchive this item check box selected, open the item. On the File menu, click Properties. On the General tab, verify that the Do not AutoArchive this item check box is selected.
  6. To archive the folder to a file other than the default Archive.pst file, click Browse, and then specify a different file name (i.e. the folder name), and a location (i.e. My Documents).
    Note: The default location for Archive.pst is C:\Documents and Settings\ user name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\. A Personal Folders file (.pst) is an Outlook data file that stores items such as e-mail messages, contacts, calendar data, tasks, and notes.
  7. Click OK.
    The items in the folder are moved out of the folder and into the .pst file that you specified. To view the folder items again, open the .pst file.

Another way to make a backup file, involves exporting (copying) the contents of the message folder to a Personal Folders file (.pst) , a data file that stores your messages and other items on your computer, using the Import and Export Wizard. This creates the backup .pst file. You can then copy the .pst file onto a CD or DVD for safekeeping or to move the data to another computer with Outlook installed.

To create & export a Personal Folder File for your mail:

  1. From the File menu, select Import and Export.
  2. Select Personal Folder File (.pst).
  3. Select the folder you wish to export from under the list of folders (if you want to include subfolders check the box marked as such).
  4. Under the option "Save Exported File As:" type the path and name of the file you wish to save as the exported file.
  5. Select Do not Export Duplicate Items.
  6. Create a file name & enter a password for the file. THIS PASSWORD CANNOT BE RECOVERED IF IT IS FORGOTTEN. You can leave the password blank if you would like. Files with passwords can only be recovered IF you know the password.
  7. Click Finish and then enter your password. This will save your Mail, Journal, or Notes folder as a Personal Folder file in the given path.
  8. *By default, the file will be saved to C:\Documents and Settings\"user account"\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\backup.pst

IT Help? Try...

.    or    .

Contact Us

Department of Information Technology Services

877 Madison Ave
Memphis, Tennessee 38163
Phone: 901-448-2222
Fax: 901-448-8199