After last week’s piece on the Personal Folders Backup tool for Outlook, someone asked me about backing up Outlook Express.
If you use Outlook Express for your e-mail, my advice is—DON’T. Like Microsoft Internet Explorer, Outlook Express is the mail program most targeted by (and vulnerable to) the makers of viruses, worms, and other forms of malicious code.
However, if OE is what you use and what you’ve been using, you do still need to know how to back up your mail.
This, it turns out, is not as straightforward as with Outlook. Instead of keeping its mail and contact information all in one place, Outlook Express divides it across several different files. Microsoft provides detailed instructions for backing up and restoring Outlook Express data.
Here is the short form of the article.
To backup Outlook Express data:
- Copy mail files to a backup folder
- Export the Address Book to a file
- Export the mail account to a file
- Export the news account to a file
To restore or import Outlook Express data:
- Import messages from the backup folder
- Import the Address Book file
- Import the mail account file
- Import the news account file
There’s also an article about backing up and restoring the Outlook Express Blocked Sender List (which serves in place of the highly effective Outlook 2003 spam filtering system) and Mail Rules. Doing this involves exporting/importing part of the Registry—something that is best left to your tech support person, so that at least you can blame them if it results in a disaster.
In summary, backing up Outlook Express is a lot of work. Recognizing this, several companies have produced third-party Outlook Express backup products. If you do a Google search on “backup outlook express”, you’ll find several, some with free trials. They cost less than buying the full version of Outlook, but then again, all they provide is the ability to back up OE—they don’t include the integrated calendar, tasks, contacts, spam filters, mailmerge capabilities, etc of the full version of Outlook.
If all you want to back up are the actual messages, you can drag and drop them into a folder on your external hard drive, or put them onto a CD. I’ve done this before when transferring data from one computer to another. It’s not very sophisticated, but it works.
If you prefer your mail client just to do e-mail, but want an alternative to Outlook Express for purposes of internet security, try Eudora, PocoMail, or Mozilla Thunderbird. All have free or ad-supported versions. They are not necessarily easy to back up, however.
For those who use Netscape mail, Harvard University has provided handy backup guides:
You can find a list of Windows e-mail backup utilities here.
Now that I’ve overwhelmed you with tasks and links, I’ll leave you to your backups.