One of the rules IT strives to follow: backup, early and often. This rule should apply to any file you can’t live without, but today we’ll show you how to apply it to your email archives (which are not backed up by default). Placing email in an archive removes it from the server meaning the only copy of that email is your archive. If you haven’t already I recommend familiarizing yourself with just what an Archive is and checking out how to setup an archive.

Once you have an archive setup the way you want it, you’ll want to back it up occasionally.   The easiest way I’ve found is with Personal Folders Backup. Personal Folders Backup is a handy addon for Outlook that waits until outlook closes and asks if you’d like to backup your archive. Here’s how to set it up:

  • Close Outlook
  • Download pfbackup.exe
  • Launch pfbackup.exe by double clicking on it
  • Click through the installer

Once the installer finishes you can open Outlook again. You should notice that there is a “backup” option in the file menu if it has installed correctly. To configure your archive backup you’ll want to:

  • Open Outlook
  • Choose Backup from the File menu

  • Click on the Options button
  • First set it to remind you every 7 days by checking the box under Reminder Optionally you can change it to remind you less or more frequently
  • Next under Backup these personal folders files: (a list of archives on your computer) check off your email archive(s) The one you want is probably just named archive
  • Now click on the Browse… button. This will let you specify where you want to backup your archive to.
  • Navigate to your U:\ (or if your offsite maybe an external hard drive or USB key)
  • Name your backup archive (I’ve creatively dubbed mine archive backup.pst) and click OK

  • Press OK. Nothing will happen but next time you close Outlook it will ask you if you want to backup your archive, after that it will only ask once a week. 

A couple of important notes:

  1. You should not use Archive directly to your network drive (U:\) because network storage is slower than your computers hard drive. This slight difference destroys Outlook’s self esteem and makes it act very strangely
  2. If your Outlook is acting oddly; don’t wait, its your inbox: get help at ex 109 or helpdesk @
  3. Archiving is admittedly a weird and somewhat of a techy concept. If you feel uneasy setting up an archive or backing an archive up have an IT staffer give you a hand. You don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help with this stuff; it’s tricky enough that IT uses it for some of its more fiendish interview questions. I’m still plotting suitable revenge…
  4. Personal Folders Backup requires a hotfix to work with Outlook 2010. Download and run the hotfix after installing Personal Folders Backup
  5. This only works with Windows (sorry no OSX support)
About the Author
James Curran