Backing up Outlook data by saving .PST files

Posted on 2008-10-05
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I have mail stored on a Linux mail server. I connect to that server using a WebMail client to read the mail.
I want to backup all the mail on that server.
Here's the method I want to use for this, I believe it will work fine but I wanted to check with some experts.

I have a test machine in my lab running Outlook 2003.  I have cleared out all mail from that machine. I'm going to connect to the mail server using Outlook  and POP and download all the mail on the server (having Outlook remove the mail from the server when it downloads it because the mailbox is getting quite large).  Then I was going to save the  Outlook.pst file in a secure location.

I will be doing this periodically so I will have several Outlook.pst files saved eventually.

My questions:
1. Is the Outlook.pst file ALL I need to save in order to preserve my mail?
2. Will I be able to restore/import several Outlook.pst files into my Outlook 2003 cllient should I need to view my archived mail?



Question by:michaelshavel
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Accepted Solution

lasax earned 300 total points
ID: 22644453
1.  Yes, the Outlook PST file will do the trick, but just make sure you do the following to capture all of the items (calendar, inbox itemts, etc...  Create the PST file, or open it if you have it already available.  Right click the main "Mailbox-{username}" item in Outlook, and right click\drag it to the PST file.  Select copy for contents (I never do the move option, just in case something goes wrong during the copy).  This will copy the Mail/Calendar/Contacts, etc... to the PST file, and duplicate the Mailbox contents.
2.  In the PST file's properties, I'd select "No Encryption" otherwise you may have a file with data you can't access (assuming that you're archiving mail for the users in your organization or lab test).  Finally, check the permissions on the PST file, and make sure that "everyone" or at least your "administrator" has write access to the file.
Then you can safely move the pst file to wherever you like.  For example, at our organization, I archive user's PST files to DVD/CD when they leave the company - so that if their Outlook Inbox data is needed, it can be easily restored for whoever needs those contacts, calendar items, email etc...

Author Comment

ID: 22644768

Thanks for the quick response.
I understand what you said in #2 but I'm not sure what you mean in #1.

You said, "Right click the Mailbox(username) in Outlook and drag it to the PST file".
Maybe I'm dragging the wrong thing, but whenever I do it, I just get an alias shortcut created to the Mailbox name. Could you clarify please?


Expert Comment

ID: 22644883
No problem.
Long ago, I used to create the pst file, then manualy copy each folder (inbox, sent items, drafts, etc, into the PST file.  I then discovered that you can copy the entire mailbox file (the root item, usually named "Mailbox-{username}.  I'm using Outlook 2003 & 2007, but the concept is the same for both cases.  
If you simply click (normal left click) & drag the mailbox item to your archive folder, I think it will copy by default, or for the root, maybe just create the shortcut as you described.
By Right-clicking it, it should ask if you'd like to "move" or "copy" the item to your PST folder.  Select "copy" to duplicate all of the mailbox contents to the new PST folder.
When you copy the mailbox to the PST file, I think it will create a folder called IPM_SUBTREE in the pst folder.  When you expand that folder, you should see all of the content folders from the original inbox, and messages should be duplicated there.
If you then go to the Calendar, or Contacts tabs of Outlook, you'll see the option to select which calendar or contacts list you want to view (Mailbox, or an item representing the new PST file that you've just created).
Let me know if that clears it up a bit.  
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Expert Comment

ID: 22644889
Once you've copied all of the mailbox folders to the PST file, you may want to rename the "IPM_SUBTREE" folder to something more user friendly (like "Username_Mailbox_Archive") so that a non technical user will not have to figure this out on their own.
LVL 97

Assisted Solution

war1 earned 200 total points
ID: 22644893
Hello michaelshavel,

1.  PST file is all you need for emails.  If you want to save rules, you need to export rules as RWZ file.  If you want to save the auto complete cache, you need to save .NK2 file.  The names are kept in a NK2 file.  With Outlook close, search for *.NK2 and rename the file.  When Outlook opens, a new one should be created once a user types a name in the To field. In Windows XP, .these files are located in
C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder. It is a hidden file. Go to any folder and select Tools > Folders Options > View. Check "Show hidden files and folders".  Click OK.

In Windows Vista, file is located in C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook

2. You can easily open the archived PST file as another set of Personal Folders. Go to File > Open and navigate to where the archived PST file is stored.  You should test this as sometimes backup PST can get corrupted.

Hope this helps!

Author Comment

ID: 22645122

Thanks for the additional info. I think I know what you mean now.
What I was doing earlier was dragging my mailbox tree root (with left click) to the PST file on the actual file sytem. Your talking about doing this all from within Outlook and not physically dealing with the Outlook.pst file on the actual filesystem, correct? What made me understand was when you were talking about IPM_SUBTREE getting created in the PST "FOLDER".  When I was dealing with the single Outlook.pst file on the filesystem there  are no folders, just a single file.
I don't believe this is necessary in my particular case though. I just did a test. I downloaded all my mail into a 'clean' Outlook.pst file via POP. Then I  copied that Outlook.pst file into another file. Then I deleted everything in my mailbox and verified it was gone. Then I moved the copy of the Outlook file I just made into Outlook.pst.  Opening up Outlook showed me all my mail (I don't need to copy contacts or anything else).


Expert Comment

ID: 22646009
Hi Mike,
Yes!  That is what I was referring to (doing all of the manipulation within Outlook).  I know that it is possible to drag messages or contact items to folders on the hard disk directly, but generally, I've found it easier to manipulate from within Outlook.  Looks like you got what I was trying to explain anyway.  I also didn't kow that you were using POP mail with exchange.  Normally I do this with Exchnge, to drag the data from the mail server and into PST files.

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