Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Amit Bansal
In today’s digital age, our emails often contain critical information and valuable data.
This becomes particularly pertinent when thinking about transitions, such as how to save Outlook emails when leaving a job.
Ensuring the safety and security of our emails becomes a top priority, especially for many of us who use Microsoft Outlook to manage our email accounts.
One efficient way to secure our emails is by backing them up regularly. This safeguards against potential data loss, accidental deletion, or changes in employment status.
In this article, we’ll delve into the process of backing up Outlook emails.
This will help you create a reliable and accessible backup of your essential correspondence, including preserving necessary communication and documents when transitioning between jobs.
We’ll cover various methods, providing step-by-step instructions so you can feel confident in the safety of your email data.
By understanding how to back up Outlook emails, and specifically knowing how to save Outlook emails when leaving a job, we empower ourselves with the knowledge and tools necessary to preserve our digital communication with ease.
From manual to automatic backup options, we’ll explore the most effective ways to protect your email data while using Microsoft Outlook.
Let’s get started on our journey toward a more secure and better-organized inbox.
Understanding Outlook Data Files
In this section, we will discuss Outlook data files and their importance in backing up your emails. We will focus on two main types of files: PST and OST files.
Personal Storage Table (PST) files are a type of Outlook data file primarily used to store copies of messages, calendar events, and other items within Microsoft Outlook.
These files are saved with the .pst extension on your computer, often in the Documents\Outlook Files folder.
We utilize PST files to back up emails, contacts, and calendars for safekeeping or migration purposes.
When exporting items to a PST file, we can choose specific folders and elements, like inbox messages or calendar events, that we wish to include in the backup.
Then, we can transfer this file to another location for safekeeping or import the data to another Outlook account.
Offline Storage Table (OST) files, on the other hand, are another type of Outlook data file associated with Exchange and Microsoft 365 accounts.
These files store an offline copy of your mailbox on your local computer.
The .ost extension is used for these files, and they primarily serve as offline access to your emails, contacts, and calendar events when you are not connected to the Internet.
While PST files are explicitly created as backups or for data migration, OST files are automatically generated when you add an Exchange or Microsoft 365 account to Outlook.
However, if you want to back up your emails, it’s important to use the PST file format instead of relying on OST files.
To summarize, understanding the role of PST and OST files in Outlook can help us effectively back up our emails and other important data.
By relying on the PST format for backups and knowing the function of OST files as offline storage, we can confidently secure our email data.
Methods for Backing up Outlook Emails
In this section, we will discuss three different methods for backing up Outlook emails: Export to a File Method, AutoArchive Method, and Manual Copy Method.
Export to a File Method
One of the easiest ways to back up your Outlook emails is by exporting them to a file. To do this, open Outlook and follow these steps:
- Click on File tab available on the top left corner of the screen.
- Open & Export >> Import/Export.
- Select Export to a file and then click Next.
- Choose Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next.
- Select the email folder you want to back up and ensure the Include subfolders box is checked. Click Next.
- Choose a location and name for your backup file, then click Finish.
This method will create a PST file, which contains your emails, contacts, calendar, and tasks.
You can easily import this file to another email account or restore the data in case of loss.
Outlook offers an AutoArchive feature, which helps you automatically back up old items in your mailbox.
This method can be useful for maintaining a “clean” mailbox, syncing Outlook data among multiple devices, and storing data in a more permanent location.
Here’s how to configure AutoArchive:
- Click on File >> Options >> Advanced.
- Scroll down to the AutoArchive section.
- Click on the AutoArchive Settings button.
- Customize the settings according to your preferences, such as how often you want Outlook to run AutoArchive and how old items should be before they are archived.
When AutoArchive runs, it moves the items that meet your criteria to an archive folder.
You can access these archived items anytime without affecting your current Outlook data.
Manual Copy Method
Another way to back up your Outlook emails is by manually copying emails from your mailbox to an external folder or drive.
This method can be useful if you want to create a quick backup of specific emails without going through the export process.
To manually copy emails:
- Open both Outlook and Windows File Explorer.
- Navigate to the folder where you want to store the backup.
- In Outlook, select the emails you want to back up.
- Drag and drop the selected emails from Outlook to the folder in Windows File Explorer.
By using this method, you will create copies of the selected emails in the specified folder.
These files can be opened with Outlook, and you can also restore them if needed.
For all these methods, it is essential to be confident and knowledgeable about your backup process and requirements.
By backing up your Outlook emails, you ensure security and peace of mind regarding your data’s safety.
Backing up Additional Outlook Elements
In this section, we’ll discuss various elements that you might want to consider backing up along with your Outlook emails. These elements include:
Contacts and Subfolders
When backing up your Outlook emails, it’s important not to neglect your contacts and subfolders.
Contacts can be exported as a .csv file, which is compatible with most email clients and Microsoft 365.
To export your contacts, go to File >> Open & Export >> Import/Export. Then, select Export to a file and choose Comma Separated Values. Finally, select your contacts folder and choose a location to save the exported file.
Your mailbox subfolders can be backed up along with your emails in the .pst file. When you export your emails, the folder properties and hierarchy are also saved in the .pst file.
Signatures and Stationery
Email signatures and stationery are personal touches that you may want to preserve on a new computer or after reinstalling Outlook.
To back up your signatures, navigate to the following folder:
Here, you can copy and save your signature files for safekeeping.
For stationery, head to
This folder contains your stationery files, which can be copied and saved to another location.
Message Rules and Blocked Senders Lists
Message rules help keep your inbox organized by automatically sorting emails based on specified criteria. Blocked senders’ lists protect you from unwanted emails.
To back up these elements, go to File >> Info >> Manage Rules and Alerts. From there, click Options and choose Export Rules for safe storage.
Custom Forms and Templates
If you’ve created custom forms or templates in Outlook, you’ll want to back them up as well.
Locate the following folder:
%appdata%\Microsoft\Templates to find .oft files, which represent your saved templates. Make sure to copy these files and store them securely.
Custom form designs and configuration files can be found at
%appdata%\Microsoft\Forms. Copy the contents of this folder to back up your custom form configurations.
Following these steps ensures that you’ve taken comprehensive measures to back up your Outlook elements, making transitioning to a new device or recovering from data loss that much easier.
Restoring Outlook Data from Backups
Restoring your Outlook data from backups can be done using a few methods, depending on whether you have a backup in the form of a PST file or need to recover from an OST file.
In this section, we’ll cover both cases to help you recover your valuable data.
Importing a PST File
To restore your Outlook email, calendar, contacts, and other data from a backup, you’ll need to import an Outlook Data File (.pst) which was created when you exported to a file.
The process is simple and straightforward:
- Open Microsoft Outlook and go to the File tab on the top left.
- Click on Open & Export and select Import/Export in the options.
- In the Import and Export Wizard, choose Import from another program or file and click Next.
- Select Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next again.
- Click Browse to locate the backup PST file on your computer and choose the file (e.g., backup.pst).
- Pick the desired options regarding duplicates and click Next.
- Choose the Outlook folders you want to import, select the Import items into the same folder in the option, and choose your desired email account.
- Click Finish to complete the import process.
Your Outlook data is now restored.
Recovering from an OST File
If you don’t have an Outlook Data File (.pst), but you have an Outlook offline data file (.ost), recovering your data requires converting the OST file to a PST file first.
Note that this method may not recover all types of data, like calendars, but could be useful if you don’t have other backups.
- Close Outlook and ensure it is not running.
- Locate your OST file on your computer. It can usually be found in
- Use a professional OST-to-PST converter tool to transform the OST file into a PST file. A variety of these tools are available online, both free and paid.
- Once you’ve converted the OST file to a PST file, proceed with the steps listed in the Importing a PST File section above to import the data into Outlook.
Our outlined methods should help you restore most, if not all, of your Outlook data from backups, whether you use an Outlook Data File (.pst) or need to recover from an OST file.
Outlook Versions and Backup Considerations
In this section, we will discuss the various Outlook versions and their backup considerations, including Microsoft 365, Outlook 2021, 2019, and 2016, as well as Outlook 2013.
Microsoft 365, previously known as Office 365, is a subscription-based service offering a wide range of benefits beyond just access to Outlook, such as OneDrive, additional features, and regular updates.
If you’re using Microsoft 365, you should have the latest version of Outlook and will benefit from extended support.
Furthermore, your emails might be stored on a cloud server, allowing you to access them from any device with an internet connection.
To back up your emails, you can export them to an Outlook .pst file.
Outlook 2021, 2019, and 2016
Outlooks 2021, 2019, and 2016 are standalone versions of the software, and the primary difference between these versions and Microsoft 365 is the lack of a subscription model.
However, the backup process for emails remains the same for these versions – exporting emails to a .pst file.
You can follow Microsoft’s guide on backing up email for detailed instructions.
Outlook 2013 was released as part of the Office 2013 suite and has reached its end of support in Windows 10.
Although the backup process for Outlook 2013 is similar to the newer versions, the settings, and options may be slightly different.
To access these settings, open the Control Panel in Windows 10, and follow the steps to find and transfer Outlook data files.
In conclusion, it’s essential to back up your Outlook emails regularly regardless of the version you are using.
Microsoft provides various resources, such as training courses and community forums, to help users learn more about Outlook and back up their data.
Outlook Account Types and Backing up Emails
In this section, we’ll discuss different account types in Outlook and how to back up emails for each of them.
IMAP and POP Accounts
For both IMAP and POP3 accounts, emails are stored in a Personal Folders (.pst) file. It is essential to regularly back up these files to prevent data loss.
To do this, open Outlook, go to the “File” tab, and select “Open & Export” >> “Import/Export“.
Choose “Export to a file” and click “Next“. Then, select “Outlook Data File (.pst)” and click “Next” again.
Choose the email folders you want to back up and follow the prompts to save the backup file to your desired location.
For Microsoft Exchange Server accounts, emails are stored in an Offline Outlook Data File (.ost).
In most cases, Exchange Server handles backups through a feature called AutoArchive.
This feature automatically archives older emails into a separate Outlook Data File (.pst).
To set up AutoArchive, go to the “File” tab, select “Options” >> “Advanced,” and click “AutoArchive Settings.”
For Outlook.com accounts (previously known as Hotmail, MSN, or Live), emails are stored on Microsoft’s servers, providing a level of redundancy.
However, it is still good practice to back up these emails.
You can accomplish this by connecting your Outlook.com account to the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook using the IMAP or POP3 settings and following the backup process mentioned earlier for IMAP and POP3 accounts.
In summary, backing up emails in Outlook depends on the account type you are using.
Make sure to regularly save your .pst files for IMAP and POP accounts, enable AutoArchive for Microsoft Exchange accounts, and connect your Outlook.com account to a desktop version of Outlook for additional backup.
Always use a secure password and store backup files in a safe location.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I export Outlook 365 emails to local storage?
To export Outlook 365 emails to local storage, follow these steps:
Open Microsoft Outlook on your computer, click “File” in the ribbon, and then select “Open & Export” >> “Import/Export.” Click “Export to a File,” select “Outlook Data File (.pst),” and choose the mail folder you want to back up.
Finally, select a location and name for your backup file, and then click “Finish.” More details can be found in this Microsoft Support article.
What are the best practices for saving Outlook emails when leaving a job?
Before leaving a job, it’s essential to save only the necessary content and respect company data policies.
You can export personal emails, contacts, and calendars to an Outlook .pst file. Make sure to select the correct email account before exporting.
It’s also good to do a mailbox cleanup and manage your mailbox size. Keep in mind that, by default, Outlook is set to download email for the past 1 year.
Further information can be found here.
How can I automatically archive emails in Outlook?
We recommend using Outlook’s AutoArchive feature, which automatically moves older items to an archive folder to help manage the size of your mailbox.
You can customize the AutoArchive settings to choose the folder to be archived, the frequency of archiving, and the age of the items to be archived.
More information on how to automatically archive emails in Outlook can be found on Microsoft’s support page.
Can I back up my Outlook emails to an external hard drive or memory stick?
Yes, you can back up your Outlook emails to an external hard drive or memory stick.
Export your emails as an Outlook Data File (.pst) as described earlier, and then choose the external hard drive or memory stick as the destination for your backup file.
Make sure to safely copy the file to avoid data loss or corruption.
What methods are available for backing up Office 365 webmail emails?
For backing up Office 365 webmail emails, options include exporting to a .pst file, using built-in mailbox backup solutions, or third-party email backup tools that may offer additional features and flexibility.
Some users may prefer to forward crucial emails to a personal email account as an extra measure.
These methods are discussed in more detail in this SysCloud Blog article.
Is there a way to download multiple Outlook emails in bulk without using PST files?
While using .pst files is the most common method for backing up Outlook emails, another option is converting the emails into PDF format.
Some third-party tools can perform bulk exports of emails from Outlook into PDF files, which can then be stored on your computer or an external drive.
These methods may vary depending on the specific tool you choose.