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Outlook Backups

Mar 14, 2023

Welcome to another Tips & Tricks!

This one might be a bit too technical for some but I think it's worth talking about!

Backing up Outlook Files Before Making Changes

If you use Outlook as your mail client and you use your own domain name to send your emails, if you decide to make changes to your mail servers, in other words change your email service provider, it's always a good idea to make backups of your Outlook files, BEFORE you make any changes!

I was helping a friend with switching from her existing mail service provider to Microsoft as she had decided to switch to a Microsoft365 Business account, which gave her exchange server functionality and a booking calendar.

In short, that makes it easier for her to see her mail on multiple devices but also gives her the ability to access her calendar or electronic diary across devices. If you don't use exchange server functionality, your diary/calendar is only visible on one device and can't be made available on multiple devices!


1. Exporting your Existing Mailbox Info

If you are already using Outlook as your mail client and you're using your own domain name for your email but it's currently hosted with a different service provider, export all the Outlook information for your email account.

The steps to use are the following:

  • In Outlook from the menu go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export.
  • Choose Export to a file.
  • Select Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next.
  • Select the mailbox you want to export and make sure you tick Include subfolders. Click Next.
  • Browse to the folder where you want to save the file, so you can find it when you need it and give it a sensible name. The file extension will automatically be .pst.
  • Select Replace duplicates with items exported.
  • Click Finish and enter a password or leave that blank and wait for the export to complete.


2. Accessing the Existing Mail Through a Webmail Client

Before you start the switch over, make sure that you can still access the existing mailbox through a webmail client so that you can still check this mail online until you stop that service.


3. Switch Over the Mail Servers by Updating the MX Record

I'm not going to go into detail of how to do this step but in order for your mailbox to point in the right direction you need to update the MX record through the DNS management of your website. Once that's been switched over to the new provider, Microsoft in this case, the email will be redirected through the new service provider.


4. Reimporting Your PST File

If for some reason the same thing happens as what happened to me and Outlook deletes all the mail and subfolders from your email account, you can reimport your PST file by going through the reverse process listed above. So, the steps would be the following:

  • In Outlook from the menu go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export.
  • Choose Import from another program or file.
  • Select Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next.
  • Browse to the folder where you saved your .pst file. Outlook will automatically navigate to an Email Backup Wizard folder but just navigate to where your files has been saved and select it. Click Open
  • Select either Replace duplicates with items imported or Do not import duplicates.
  • Click Finish and wait for the import to complete.


5. Regular Backups

As a general rule it is good to backup all your data, not only your mail data on a regular basis, either once a week or through continuous synchronization of local files to cloud storage somewhere like a Google Drive or through a Microsoft OneDrive.

Hope you find this useful and as always if you have any questions, please send me a message!


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