Backing up your Outlook email/contacts and Clearing out the Original

Are you moving off a computer that’s not going to be yours any longer, such as one at the office? Do you have a mixture of personal email and personal address book contacts in Outlook at work that you need to both back up for keeping with you as you move on and removing from the source at work? Here’s how.

First, it’s worth noting that Microsoft Outlook stores all the email, address book, calendar and memo information it has for you, in one file: the outlook.pst file. Generally, it moves older contents (old emails, old tasks, old appointments) automatically to another file, archive.pst. Both of these files are usually found in the same directory.

So, what you should do is:

  1. Copy your outlook.pst and archive.pst to you external/portable back drive.
  2. Open Outlook on your office computer and through Microsoft Outlook, select all of the emails and contact entries you wish to remove. You may wish to select them all and delete. That’s your call.
  3. Delete the archive.pst file on your office computer.
  4. Empty your computer’s recycle bin.
  5. Close Outlook and restart it to be sure the stuff really does look like it’s gone.

To access the contents of your archive.pst and outlook.pst from Outlook on your home computer, have your home version of Outlook (should be equal or later version than the one at the office) open the PST file from your external hard drive (you may wish to copy it over locally first, your call). The guidance for that is here.

Links related to the material above:

  1. How to Back Up or Copy Your Outlook Mail, Contacts and Other Data [About.com]
  2. Where is my Outlook “PST” file located? [Ask-Leo.com]
  3. Outlook Archiving and the Archive.pst file
  4. Open Your Existing Outlook Data Store [Outlook-tips.net]