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Saving OUTLOOK from disaster

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If you have never had your Outlook crash or suddenly lose messages, appointments, etc. you are fortunate.

No matter how carefully you monitor your system, those things WILL happen, and recovering your data from a backup is not always possible, whether because the backup isn't current or because what you need is buried too deep and is inaccessible without "restoring" other files that you don't want to restore.

I suggest you make a habit of doing a "copy" backup of your Outlook data files on a regular basis (maybe as frequently as every 2-3 days, but no less often that once a week if you use the program all the time).

To do this, locate the relevant files (normally "Personal Folders.PST" and "Archive.PST"). You may look first in your C: drive under  \\Users\[your name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. OR you can search for *.PST files on your system. (Don't be surprised if you find several; just look for the ones that have the newest dates.)

Create a new directory, either in the location where you found the PST files or in another location that works for you. Call it "Outlook Save" or any other name that you will remember.

Then, as often as you wish (or have time for), go to the Outlook directory where you found the relevant PST files, find the ones with current dates, and simply COPY them to the new directory. (Caution: you cannot do this while Outlook -- or any of the other programs that link to Outlook, such as Synchronization programs -- is running.)

Once you have done this the first time, then on following occasions you will be prompted to ask if you want to "Overwrite" or "Save both." Click on "Save both" (except as noted below), and the new copy will have a number added to the name to distinguish it from other versions.

The files will be HUGE (3,000,000 KB or more), so you may wish to start this process when you are on your way out to lunch, as it will take a few minutes.

But it will be worth it the next time you open Outlook and find that your Rules are gone or your Notes or Tasks files have disappeared.

One further caution: Do be sure that you don't get bogged down by saving a new iteration every time. After you have 2 or 3 of these "backup" files, you should begin to overwrite them (oldest one first, of course).
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Author:julieann01
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9 Comments

Expert Comment

by:hassanayoub85
Hello sir,
I go to the path u mentioned, however I just found a OST file not PST file!!!
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Author Comment

by:julieann01
hassanayoub85: Are you on a system using Microsoft Exchange Server? If so, you should contact your system manager before making any changes.

I am not sure how Exchange works, but I believe your OST file is already -- in a sense -- a backup of your mailbox files, so you may not need to be concerned about backing it up further.

Here is an explanation of the differences between OST and PST files: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/introduction-to-outlook-data-files-pst-and-ost-HA010354876.aspx
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Expert Comment

by:hassanayoub85
no, just outlook
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Author Comment

by:julieann01
Are you on a stand-alone computer using Outlook? Which version of Windows and Office are you using?
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Expert Comment

by:hassanayoub85
yes, desktop pc, win 7 and office 2010
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Author Comment

by:julieann01
OK, In that case I guess you should be able to treat the OST file the same as the PST. Do you have both "Personal Folders.OST" and "Archive.OST"?

If so, then you can follow the same procedure as described above, just using the OST file names.

Do you work at home or in an office? Are there other users in the same space/office?
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Expert Comment

by:hassanayoub85
No just me, and I want to synchronize things between office, home, and mobile.
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Author Comment

by:julieann01
I think if you want to sync between/among THREE devices, you'd be much better off using a software sync program. Here's one I found that sounds good: http://www.codetwo.com/outlook-sync/

To find more, just search "synchronize outlook on two computers"
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Expert Comment

by:hassanayoub85
Thx
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