How to back up data in Outlook 2016 for Windows

Many reasons exist for why you might want to backup and save your Microsoft Outlook email to an archive file. Maybe you want to transfer that mail to a new Outlook account or a new PC. Or perhaps you want to a back-up copy, to help prevent data loss.

Here's how to create and save a data archive file using Outlook 2016 for Windows.

How to export an Outlook backup file

  1. Open the Outlook 2016 desktop app.
  2. Click the File tab in the top-left corner of the Outlook screen.
  3. Click the Open & Export option in the blue vertical column that appeared on the left side of the page.

  1. Select the Import/Export box to launch the Import and Export Wizard.
  2. Choose the Export to a file option using your mouse or the arrow-up and arrow-down buttons on your keyboard.
  3. Click Next.

  1. Navigate to and highlight the Outlook Data File (.pst) option.
  2. Click Next.

  1. Select the information you want to back up.
    • If you want to back up and archive your entire Outlook account, select the name of your account (often your email address).
    • If you're looking to backup only specific Outlook folders or data, such as your inbox, contacts, calendar or notes, pick the specific folder. You should also make sure that the Include subfolders box below the menu is checked if you want to back up all data within each folder. (Note: You must create individual Outlook backup archives for each folder, unless you back up your entire account. You cannot, for example, create a single backup file for both the Inbox and Calendar folders.)
    • Use the Filter button below the vertical menu options to access advanced back-up filtering features. You could, for example, use the filter to back up only messages in your inbox that include the words "Windows Central." Or you could choose to only back up your unread messages

  1. When you're ready to create your Outlook back-up archive, click Next.
  2. Name your document in the Save exported file as: field.
  3. Choose the location to which you want to save your backup by hitting the Browse button and navigating to your folder of choice.
  4. Next you see options that let you manage duplicate item, if you already saved Outlook backup archives in the past.
    • Replace duplicates with items exported overwrites any existing data with the new data, even if it's the same.
    • Allow duplicate items to be created does not overwrite any existing data and it creates new data, even if it's the same.
    • Do not export duplicate items detects duplicate information and does not export and save any data that already exist.

  1. Click Finish and you'll see a final prompt that asks you if you want to protect your archive with a password. If so, enter and confirm your password and then click OK.

  1. If you don't want to use a password, leave the fields blank and click OK. Your shiny new Outlook data file will then save to your pre-specified location, but be patient, because the process can take a while if your account includes a lot of data.

For more Office for Windows tutorials, check out:

Al Sacco is content director of Future PLC's Mobile Technology Vertical, which includes AndroidCentral.com, iMore.com and WindowsCentral.com. He is a veteran reporter, writer, reviewer and editor who has professionally covered and evaluated IT and mobile technology, and countless associated gadgets and accessories, for more than a decade. You can keep up with Al on Twitter and Instagram.

12 Comments
  • Microsoft should implement a basic save function (cloud/flie) for users because this procedure is a bit complicated for beginners or people who are not interested in tech/OS world
  • Agree 100%, it's ridiculous to do this in this day and age. It should be a one-click "save Outlook file to OneDrive"...
  • You do not need this unless your email provider still uses old POP technology.
  • All you have to do is tell Outlook to leave items on the server until they are deleted from your Outlook, then you always have your email no matter what.  Personally I prefer POP to imap, never much cared for imap.
  • Great mail is on server, what about contacts, calendars and tasks?
  • Agree. Save to OneDrive.
  • Are you really ready to put 2GB+ to onedrive?
  • Archive functionality was with outlook since 2007 and possibly even before.
  • I have Microsoft Office with Outlook 2007 and use their auto-backup utility that you can download. You can set it to automatically backup your .pst at any interval you want. https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Back-up-Outlook-data-with-the-Microsoft-Outlook-Personal-Folders-Backup-tool-7ef27bac-6088-4f03-a9f7-34165d885883
  • It will work if Outlook is open and with personal folders (pop3/imap) only. Will not work with latest hotmail/outlook.com. check out free safepst.com
  • remember the old days...photocopy it put it in a draw - saved.
  • Google "safe pst backup". It's free and works even Outlook is closed.