How do I backup Outlook emails and other files?

Backing up your data more frequently than “never” is essential because disasters do happen and normally at the busiest time of the month. 

Outlook emails (as well as calendars, contacts, tasks, and notes) are stored within the Outlook Data File (.PST) file, some other files and settings such as account settings, signatures, templates, custom forms are stored in separate files. Therefore, make sure to back up these files as well. 

How to backup Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016

To backup emails in Outlook 2013 and 2016, perform the following steps.

  • Open your Outlook, and click File > Open & Export > Import/Export.
  • The Import and Export Wizard will start up, you select Export to a file, and click Next.
  • Select Outlook Data File (.PST), and click Next.
  • Select the email account that you want to back up, and make sure the “Include subfolders” box is selected. This will export the contents of all folders, including mail folders (Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, etc.), Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, and Journal.

  • If you are exporting to an existing .PST file, choose the desired option for duplicate items. The default Replace duplicates with items exported works fine in most cases.

Note. If you’ve previously exported your Outlook data, the previous folder and file name will appear. To prevent overwriting the previous backup, be sure to type a different file name before clicking OK

Back up Outlook rules

All Message rules are stored in a .PST file. So, copying a .PST file makes a backup of the rules, and the correct migration of the backup to a new profile restores the rules. The only adjustment that you will have to make is to remap the “Move to folder” and “Copy to folder” rules. 

To do this, open Outlook, click Manage Rules and Alerts, select the rule, click the folder name in the bottom pane, and click OK to confirm the folder.

Back up Outlook signatures, templates, custom forms and settings

Apart from Outlook emails, you may want to back up other items and settings. Here is a list of places where Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016 store them.

Signatures (.rtf, .txt, .htm)


C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures

Stationery (.htm) – Outlook theme

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\ Microsoft Shared\Stationery

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Stationery

Outlook Templates (.oft)


C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

Navigation Pane settings (.xml)

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Outlook\profile name.xml

C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\profile name.xml

Custom forms


C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Forms

Note. Be sure to close your Outlook before copying any of the above files.

A Final Word

Backing up your data more frequently than “never” is essential because disasters do happen and normally at the busiest time of the month. If you need any help with an Outlook problem, contact ABACON IT and one of our experienced team members will help you.

For more information contact the author, Ryan Danvers at 072 601 2858 or email him at