My Tech Guys Mailbag

We often get questions sent to regarding a whole range of topics. In this new feature, we will be sharing some of these questions and our responses.

Hi there,

This likely drives many of your customers crazy…. backing up most files on a pc is relatively easy, but backing up Outlook Office email files is a different story! Is there any easy way to back up all my email files onto a desktop portable hard drive?

signed, MTG Customer who would like to remain anonymous.


Hi MTG customer,

It’s a great question, I’ll take you up on that offer and include this in the newsletter.

This advice only really applies to PC users where they do not have an easy option to take incremental images of their hard drive such as with an Apple Time Machine, the built-in program for Apple computers.

When you add an email account to Outlook, a local copy of your information is stored on your computer. This feature allows you to access your previously downloaded or synchronized email messages, calendar information, contacts, and tasks without an internet connection. Certain types of accounts, such as POP accounts, store their information in Outlook Data Files (.pst files). Outlook 365 accounts, Exchange accounts, IMAP accounts, and accounts to store their information in Offline Outlook Data Files (.ost files).

The offline Outlook Data File (.ost) is saved on your hard drive under the path: drive:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. In addition, there is a file type called .nk2 which hold all of your Outlook autocomplete data (when you start typing an email address into your to: email field and it autocompletes) which is certainly also worth backing up.

The way to make sure it is being backed up is to include the above folder in your backup procedure. Outlook stores pst files in my documents by default but can store it in other places if using a version older than 2010 or that has been upgraded from older versions.

Doing this will, of course, vary depending on what backup program you are using but most will allow you to choose certain files to back up. Often Then, if there are issues, this data is accessible for import into the same destination on your new install. Using IMAP means the emails are backed up on the server “automagically” and if using Gmail you can actually revert to a previous date if your account is hacked or you delete emails by accident.

The above clearly covers some more technically complex stuff so, often this is something we do on a customers behalf. If you would like to make sure all your data is being backed up correctly or to get this set up for you then come into our stores or call us on 250-890-1065.

Thanks again for reading the newsletter and for asking!

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