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]

Norton Ghost Disappoints – Dantz Retrospect takes the lead

I’ve posted earlier of how using a tool like Norton Ghost 2003 and a Maxtor external hard drive creates a great backup solution for a drive-image style backup that retains all your settings.

Well, Norton Ghost 2003 used to work well. I got it as part of a bundle in Norton SystemWorks 2004 Professional. I also use Norton Internet Security 2004. Norton has a Live Update facility that is always patching your software. It sounds great in theory. Many tools in their offerings share common facilities / code components. They don’t seem to do this well however.

Recently, my Norton Ghost 2003 gleefully made system image backups that when I later went to check on, could not be opened (even though it did an “integrity” check on the original backup). Symantec support on this problem has been very slow and not very helpful. They recommended obvious things like “run live update until there are no more updates” which I had already done and stated to them in my original tech support request.

Ultimately, Symantec told me that if my hard drive was too fragmented, that this could be the cause. So I went out and purchased the best hard drive defragmenter (Diskeeper 9.0) and completely defragmented my hard drive, only to have the same problem.

What to do?

I had used a free version of Dantz Retrospect (Retrospect Express) that came bundled with my Maxtor hard drive and was impressed with it. So I downloaded their professional version (trial) which included a facility to do drive image backups like Ghost did. The backup part went really smooth and their process is far superior (uses incremental backups, you don’t have to leave Windows, etc.). I will test out the ability for it to read the backup data reliably and update this blog.

So far, my problems with Norton Ghost suggest that the winning horse is Dantz Retrospect Professional.