How to download your Outlook messages to a personal folder file?

If you rely on Outlook for managing your mailbox you might dread losing your inbox due to some kind of hardware malfunction or issue with your email service of choice. The easiest way to deal with the consequences of these unwanted events is ensure that you regularly backup your mailbox into an Outlook personal folder file (.pst).

This simple tutorial will guide you through the initial creation of a personal folder file into which you’ll be able to store your Inbox mailbox. The procedure above applies with minor changes to Outlook 2013, although it’s not majorly different in Outlook 2007 and 2010):


  • Hit File and then select Open & Export.
  • Now select Import & Export
  • Your next step will be to select Export to a file.
  • Hit Next.
  • Then select Outlook data folder (pst) and hit Next.
  • Now select the folder you would like to export and Next. Note that you are able to export also subfolders.
  • Your last step will be to specify the location of your folder. You are able to download your mailbox to an already existing data folder (if doing incremental updates, you might want to skip duplicated items to save on disk space).
  • Once done, hit Finish.
  • Last but not least, ensure that you retain a copy of your data folder in an external hard drive (a simple USB stick with more than 16GB will do for most home users).



Once you have setup your .PST file as shown above, you might want to configure an automatic process that will take care of periodically archiving your Outlook mail. For that you’ll use the Auto Archive capability, which we’ll cover in one of our next tutorials.

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