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Backup Outlook Express email messages

Backup Outlook Express email messages

All email messages in Outlook Express are stored in a separate directory. This directory contains several files, one for each folder present in Outlook Express. As you would know, Outlook Express has five basic folders called Inbox, Outbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items and Drafts.

Not only is there a file for each of these folders, but if you have created additional folders (under the Inbox, for instance), there would be a file corresponding to them too. To create a backup of Outlook Express emails we need to essentially create a backup of all the files under the stored directory.

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For your information, each individual file of an Outlook Express folder contains all the email messages under that folder. These files have a special format as evident by the file extension – .dbx. In short, to backup Outlook Express email message we will copy all these files to another location. Please note, that we will copy the files NOT cut-paste.

These step-by-step instructions for creating a backup Outlook Express email messages have been dumbed down with relevant snapshots.
[The steps have been worked out in Outlook Express version 6]

  1. Start Outlook Express.
  2. Click on “Tools” in the menu bar and then click on “Options”
    Creating a backup of Outlook Express by first locating the stored folder
  3. This should bring up the “Option” pop-up window.
  4. Click on the “Maintenance” tab as shown in the image below.
    Outlook Express Options window with the Maintenance tab
  5. This brings the “Maintenance” option to the front. Now click on the “Store Folder” button as depicted in the image below.
    Finding the Store Location to create a backup of all files and email messages
  6. This will pop up the “Store Location” window, which displays the directory on your system in which Outlook Express stores the email messages.
    The Store Location directory that contains the email messages of Outlook Express
  7. Highlight the directory path, right-click and then select the “Copy” option.

    Copying the store location directory path to create a backup
  8. You have now copied the directory path onto the clipboard.
  9. Now click on the “Start” button and then on “Run”, which opens the small “Run” pop-up window.
  10. Paste the directory path in the “Open” text field and click on the “OK” button.
  11. The Windows Explorer window opens up displaying the contents of the “Stored Folder”. As I mentioned above, Outlook Express stores email messages in file with the extension .dbx and there is one .dbx file corresponding to each folder that you have.
  12. The next and the final step is to copy the files (DO NOT CUT) to another location. This creates a backup of all the email messages. For further safety, I suggest you burn the files on a CD or DVD.

You can repeat this process once a week – simply copy over the last backup.

Now if something does go wrong in future, like a virus/worm infection, you can simply “Import” the emails in Outlook Express through the “File -> Import” option and you be able to retrieve all messages segregated into their individual folders just as they were at the time you took a backup.

By the way, you can change the “Store Folder” in Outlook Express. This way, you will know for sure where the email messages are kept and can simply take backups from that directory instead of going through all the steps above. To set a new location for the “Store Folder”, click on the “Change” button (as shown in the image below) and browse to a specific directory on your hard-disk to change the folder location.

Changing Store Folder of Outlook Express so that we can backup Outlook Express quickly next time

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