For many individuals, archiving and backing up old emails is difficult and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be, particularly if you use Outlook.
Microsoft Outlook saves emails in a data file known as a PST or OST file. PST is an abbreviation for Personal Storage Table, whereas OST is an abbreviation for Offline Storage Table. These files in both situations include all of the emails you’ve sent or received from the accounts you’ve added to your Outlook client.
Setting up Outlook to archive old emails to a particular file and then setting up a schedule to archive those files to a secure place for long-term preservation is all it takes. This post will demonstrate how easy this procedure is.
Using Outlook Exclusively
You could live your whole life using just online email applications like Gmail and Yahoo, never utilizing a desktop email program. However, if you’re a busy person with little time to clear up your online accounts, it won’t be long until your Inbox is clogged with thousands of emails.
The benefit of a software like Outlook is that you can dump those online accounts by importing all of their emails into Outlook. The following are the advantages of doing so:
- Even if you never use your Outlook client, your emails are still saved in your online account and accessible from your mobile device.
- When you open an email in Outlook, it is downloaded and saved in a local data file.
- Once the emails are in Outlook, you may archive them using Outlook’s automatic functions.
This may free up storage space in online accounts such as Google and Yahoo, avoiding you from exceeding data storage restrictions and perhaps having to pay for more storage.
You may add these accounts to your Microsoft Outlook client by going to File>Account Settings and then selecting the Account Settings option from the drop-down menu.
You may add as many email accounts as you like to the E-mail tab, as long as you know all of the account’s POP3 or IMAP settings (or the Exchange server).All of that is beyond the scope of this post, although Brad recently addressed how to configure your Outlook client to be more productive with emails.
Create Automated Email Archives
Assuming you have many email accounts feeding emails into your Outlook client, the next step is to archive older data.
In this example, I’m going to archive all MakeUseOf emails older than a year. To do this, go to File >Account Settings, but this time click on the Data Files tab instead of the Account Settings one.
Click Add… and give your new data file a name. This is where you’ll save your old archived emails.
If you wish to safeguard those old emails so that no one can come snooping around and access the file, tick the password protection box. This is a smart idea, particularly if the emails include sensitive business information or personal information about individuals you know.
There are two methods for configuring AutoArchive for old emails. The first option is to go to File>Cleanup Tools>Archive…
Select the mailbox where you want to archive emails, specify the age beyond which you want to archive, and then go to the archive data file you prepared in the previous step.
The second method is to simply right-click on the Inbox inside the Outlook client, choose Properties, and then go to the AutoArchive tab.
You may also set a threshold in months in this window to determine whether to archive emails in the Inbox. ChooseMove old stuff to… and go to the data file you produced in the previous step.
Archiving a Newly Imported Account
Anyone reading this will instantly install Outlook, add all of their favorite accounts to the client, and import thousands upon thousands of emails that have accumulated in those online accounts over time.
Great! Except… it won’t work.
Here’s the thing: AutoArchive is intended for all emails received after you set up AutoArchive. This is due to Outlook’s usage of the email’s “modify” date. And just wait till you import those 10,000+ emails from your internet accounts. Every every email receives a “modified” date of today.
So, what are you going to do about those emails? You may manually transfer them into the archive data file.
Simply go to the Inbox where you have all of the old emails you wish to archive, highlight them all, and then click and drag them into the archive you made for them.
Depending on how many emails you want to archive, it might take a long time. However, you will get a status window similar to the one below, so go have a cup of coffee and give it some time.
Manage Your Archives
Once you’ve finished archiving those emails, you have many choices depending on how you wish to arrange your email archives.
- Option 1: When naming archive files, use the name of the previous year. Close the archive (see below) and generate a fresh archive file at the end of each year.
- Option 2: Create a single archive file, configure AutoArchive to continue archiving everything older than 6 months to that archive, and then ignore it.
Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages. The second option is ideal for archiving a small number of emails since it is simple to set and forget. However, it will come back to bother you if you run out of storage capacity for the archive file. With the first option, you must remember to end the archive by right-clicking on the Archive file in your Outlook client every year.
The PST file may then be moved to another place for safekeeping. Outlook’s data files are stored by default in the /Documents/Outlook Files/ folder.
You may either relocate the closed archive file to /Documents/Outlook Files/2014 Archives/, or you could delete it. – or, even better, transfer those old archived emails to an off-site cloud storage account like Dropbox or Google Drive. This is an even better alternative since you won’t lose those old emails in the event of a fire (or if your PC hard disk is otherwise damaged).
If you ever need to access those archived emails, simply copy them back into the /Documents/Outlook Files/ directory, open Outlook, and use the Add.. button in the same Data Files tab where you created the data files to browse to that stored archive file and add it back into your Outlook client, where you can browse through all of your old emails again.
Only a Backed Up Email Is a Safe Email
The trick here is to acquire control of your internet accounts, and Outlook can assist. Connecting your Outlook client to those online accounts is the first step. The next step is to manually put all of those old emails you’ve been saving into an archive file and save that file somewhere secure.
The last step is to set up AutoArchive in your Outlook client to keep your inbox clean and your client running smoothly by automatically archiving older emails to a separate data file. Working from a smaller data package keeps your inbox moving quickly and efficiently.
Have you ever used Microsoft Outlook as your primary email client? Will you give it a try now that you know how simply it can help you back up your most essential, stored emails? Please share your ideas in the comments area below!
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