In this article
  • Back up Outlook emails with native tools
  • Back up Outlook emails using third-party tools
  • Frequently asked questions on Outlook backup
  • Why you should back up Outlook emails

Top 5 Ways to Back up Outlook Emails

13 Feb 2019
22 min read
Blog Articles

How to back up Outlook emails

Five ways to back up Outlook emails

backup outlook - flowchart

How to back up Outlook emails with native tools

There are different ways individuals who use the free version of Outlook can take a backup of their emails.
Microsoft hardly has any feature that is specifically designed to take a backup of your emails and restore it back to your inbox. However, some features can function as an Outlook backup tool in a limited manner. These are:

  • Option 1 – Back up Microsoft 365 emails using email forwarding

  • Option 2 – Back up Microsoft 365 emails using export option

  • Option 3 – Back up Microsoft 365 emails using IMAP settings – auto archiving

How to backup Outlook emails in Microsoft 365 using email forwarding

An easy way of keeping a backup of your emails is to forward them to an alternate account. Once the forwarding feature is set up, even if you lose emails in one account, it will be available in the alternate account.

How to set up email forwarding for Outlook on the web

  • Step 1:  Go to the Outlook toolbar,  select Settings and click on View all Outlook settings.

View all Outlook settings
  • Step 2: Select Mail > Forwarding.

Mail forwarding
  • Step 3: Select Enable forwarding checkbox, enter the email address to which you want to forward your mails, and click Save.

Enable forwarding

Note: Select Keep a copy of forwarded messages checkbox if you want a copy of the original mails to remain in your mailbox.

Now all the emails you receive will be automatically forwarded to the specified email address.

Don’t have time to read the whole article?

How to set up email forwarding for Outlook desktop client

There is no exclusive forwarding option available in desktop Outlook. However, individuals can use the Rules and Alerts wizard to forward emails to another account.

Follow these steps to forward your emails:

  • Step 1: Launch Outlook desktop app. Navigate to File -> Info.

navigate to file and info
  • Step 2: Click on the option Manage Rules & Alerts. This will open a new Wizard to set up Rules and Alerts.

  • Step 3: Click on the New Rule option. This will open another pop-up window where you can create a rule.

New rule
  • Step 4:  Choose the option Apply rule on messages I receive, available under the section Start  from a blank rule.

Note: The next section is to set conditions for forwarding emails. For instance, you can create a condition to forward only the emails which are received from a set of people.

  • Step 5: Click on Next without selecting any condition as we are backing up the entire mailbox.

  • Step 6:  Next, check the box, forward it to people or public group and then click on the link people or public group under step 2. Click Next.

forward to people or public group
  • Step 7: Next, enter the email address to which a copy of your emails will be forwarded to backup Outlook emails and click OK.

  • Step 8:  Click on the Next button without selecting any checkbox as we do not need to create an exception in the forwarding rule to backup the entire mailbox.

  • Step 9:  Review the settings and click on the Finish button.

The forwarding rule is now added as an email rule in Outlook. Now, any message you receive will be automatically forwarded to the email address you specified.
The forwarding rule is now added as an email rule in Outlook. Now, any message you receive will be automatically forwarded to the email address you specified.


  • You will run out of space one day.

  • In order to store all your data in a separate email account, you will have to spend extra money on buying  new accounts for all your business users.

  • The secondary email account is subject to the same widespread threats as the primary one: ransomware, viruses, hijacking, accidental or intentional deletions and more.

How do you export emails from Outlook?

With the Import/Export wizard, individuals can manually backup Outlook emails and store it in local storage. This will come in handy during data loss incidents and unforeseen disasters.

Note: This Import/Export wizard is only available in the desktop version of Outlook and not in the web versions.

How to use the export option as an Outlook backup tool

  • Step 1:  Launch Outlook desktop application.

  • Step 2:  Select the File option in the menu bar.

  • Step 3:  Navigate to Open & Export and select the option Import/Export. This will open the Import/Export wizard. Note: If you have an older version of Outlook, the steps to find the Import/Export Wizard dialog box might be somewhat different.  On Outlook 2007, choose Import and Export;  On Outlook 2010, select Open-> Import; On Outlook 2013 / 2016 / 2019 / Office 365, choose Open & Export->Import/Export.

  • Step 4:  Choose the option Export to a file and click on Next.

export to a file
  • Step 5:  Click Outlook Data File (.pst) and then click Next.

outlook data file
  • Step 6: Next, select the desired folder – for example, Inbox –  that has to be exported and click Next.

Note: You can apply Filter to further refine what you export. Also, you can export the entire mailbox by clicking on your email account at the top and checking the option Include the subfolders.

  • Step 7: In the next screen, click on the Browse button to choose the location in which you want to store the exported email(s)

  • Step 8: In the same window, choose one of three options regarding duplicate files.

choose option for duplicate files

Note: Usually, you’ll want to choose Replace duplicates with items exported. If this is the first time you’re exporting the email account, or if this is a new export file, there won’t be any duplicates to worry about.

  • Step 9:  Click on the button Finish. The selected folder –Inbox – will be exported as a .pst file and will be kept in the specified location. Note: The files will be exported in .pst format. You may be prompted to set a password for this .pst-file. If you don’t want to set a password, leave the field blank and click Ok. Close Outlook and copy the exported file to a safe location. In this way, your Outlook emails will be saved in a PST file on the hard drive. This PST file can be imported into any Outlook or Microsoft 365 account.


  • Inability to set up a regular backup option: You will have to regularly take manual backups to stay up-to-date with the emails. This means if you forget to back up your recent data and then get affected by ransomware, unintentional or malicious deletion, or an account hijacking, all your current files will be gone.

  • Older backups must be regularly deleted to save local storage space.

  • Outlook does not export meta-data such as folder properties (views, permissions, and AutoArchive settings), message rules, and blocked senders lists.

  • The Import/Export wizard is available only on the desktop version of your Office 365.

How to backup Outlook emails using IMAP settings – Auto Archiving

How to set up Auto Archive in Outlook

  • Step 1: Launch Outlook Desktop application.

  • Step 2:  Click  File-> Options.

  • Step 3:  Click on the option Advanced -> AutoArchive Settings.

Advanced auto archive settings
  • Step 4: Click on Run Auto Archive every and choose the frequency of the archiving. By default, it will be set for 14 days. You can change it according to your need.

  • Step 5: Click on Clean out items older than option and set a time period to move your files from Inbox to the Archive folder.

  • Step 6: Click on the option Move old items toand type a file name for the archived items to be transferred to, or click Browse to select from a list. Click OK.

Move old items to a location

Depending on the time period, all your emails will be stored in the Archive folder, unless you delete it from there.

Note: How to determine the age of an item

When does the aging period start for:

1) An email: The received date/time or the time when you last changed or saved the email, , whichever is later. Marking a message as read or unread is an example of a message change.

2) A calendar meeting, event, or appointment: The date when you last changed and saved the item, whichever is later. Recurring items are not Auto Archived. Only Calendar items that have already happened will be archived, regardless of the last save date.

3) A task: The completion date or the date when you last changed and saved the task. Tasks that are not marked complete are not Auto Archived. Tasks assigned to other people are archived only if marked complete. (Source:

You can view the Archived emails by clicking on the Archive option.

Archive folder

How to backup Outlook emails using eDiscovery in Microsoft 365

The eDiscovery tool helps in searching and locating data that could be used as potential evidence in litigations. It can retain critical business data for as long as needed.

Note: Only those who have subscribed to the Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans have access to the eDiscovery tool.

This tool comprises four modules:

Case: A way to organize data and restrict the held data to a certain set of users.

Hold: Protects important data from modifications or deletions.

Search: Lets the administrator search for specific email among the held data.

Export: Exports discovered data as a PST file.

Search and Export options are used to search and export the data that has been held by the user. This comes in handy when you need to recover deleted Outlook emails.

How to create a case in eDiscovery

  • Step 1:  Log in to Microsoft 365 admin center.

  • Step 2:  Navigate to the  Admin centers section on the left pane -> Click on the Security option.

  • Step 3:  You will be redirected to the  Admin Center page for Security and Compliance. Navigate to eDiscovery and select the eDiscovery option from the drop-down menu.

  • Step 4:  Next, click on the button Create a case to hold the user data.

create a case
  • Step 5: Enter the Case name and Description Click on Save.

enter case name and description
  • Step 6: Next, click on the Open button, to go to the case created.

open the case

This will redirect you to a new tab with settings specific to the case selected.
The next step is to create a Hold.

How to create a hold in eDiscovery

  • Step 7: In the redirected page, navigate to Holds -> +Create.

create hold
  • Step 8: Enter the Hold name and description. ClickNext.

hold name and description
  • Step 9: Click on Choose users, groups, or teams to choose the user accounts to be preserved, and click Next.

choose users, groups, or teams
  • Step 10: In the new window that opens, search for users to be added. Select the desired username and click Choose-> Done. This will take you back to the Create a New Hold page.

  • Step 11: Click Next. Click on the Add Conditions option to filter the emails using conditions like sender name, receiver name, sent date, and so on – only if needed. Click Next.

Add conditions
  • Step 12: Review your hold settings and click on the button. Create this hold to complete the process.

Review hold settings


  • Each user has a limited storage available. If you delete emails to stay within the storage limit,  deleted emails cannot be recovered. Also, if the user account is deleted, then the backup data is lost forever.

  • eDiscovery feature is available only for users who have subscribed to Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 or E5 plans.

How to back up Outlook emails using third-party tools

There are third-party tools designed solely for backup purposes. One among the cloud backup solutions is SysCloud backup solution.

SysCloud offers a fully automated cloud to cloud backup and restore service which uses a trusted cloud storage platform like Amazon Web Services (AWS) to store data.

With SysCloud, IT administrators can backup and restore data in just a few clicks. Moreover, administrators can define retention rules that allow you to back up data for an unlimited period.

Why should you use third-party cloud backup tools to backup Outlook emails in Microsoft 365?

The following are the advantages of using third-party tools like SysCloud to back up your Outlook emails:

Account Deletion Keep a safe copy of organizational data even after the user accounts are deleted. This happens mostly during employee exits, thus saves on license costs.

Access Data During Outages Access your Outlook via the online backup service even when Microsoft 365 suffers an outage, which is not very uncommon.

Backup with Attachments Take a backup of all your emails along with the attachments.

Saves Time Save time in managing backup for large teams.

Added-Security Gain added data security with increased admin control and in-built protection for ransomware attacks.

Automatic/ Scheduled Backup Request a daily backup schedule (daily once/daily thrice) when you sign up with SysCloud. Once configured, backups are automated.

How to backup Outlook emails using SysCloud

  • Step 1: Launch SysCloud’s application using this link

  • Step 2:  Log in to Office 365 using your admin credentials.

  • Step 3: Navigate to Backup in the menu bar and select Start Backup from the drop-down menu.

backup outlook emails using SysCloud - start backup
  • Step 4: Choose if you want to back up the entire domain or specific users and teams. Click Next.

backup outllok emails using Syscloud - select users and teams
  • Step 5:  Locate the respective domain and click on Add Users & Teams.

backup outlook emails using SysCloud - add users and teams
  • Step 6: Select the users you want to back up and click on Confirm.

Backup Outlook emails using SysCloud - select users and confirm
  • Step 7: Click Next to select the apps to be backed up.

backup Outlook emails using SysCloud - click next
  • Step 8: Since we are backing up only Outlook emails, choose Mail among the listed apps.

backup Outlook emails using SysCloud - choose mail

You can see the progress of your backup in the Archives & Restore page. Once the backup is set up, SysCloud will automatically back up the Outlook emails for the selected users everyday. Now you have a second copy of your data safely stored on the cloud and you can retrieve it whenever needed. This article explores in-depth about the different ways in which you can backup Outlook emails. But backup is just one part in securing your business data. At the end of the day, the reason we backed up was so that we could recover permanently deleted Outlook emails with all the folder structure intact. Learn how to do this in our article How to Recover Permanently Deleted Outlook Emails in Office 365

Frequently asked questions on Outlook backup

1) Does Microsoft back up your emails?

No, Microsoft does not back up your emails and they recommend backing up your Microsoft 365 data including emails using third-party apps. It is stated in their terms of service.

2) Does exporting Outlook emails delete them?

No, exporting Outlook emails does not delete them from your Inbox, rather it exports a copy of your emails to another location. However, when you archive a mail in Outlook, it will no longer be visible in your Inbox. It can only be accessed from the Archive folder.

3) How do I download all emails from Outlook 365?

To download all emails from Outlook,  you can use the Import/Export option in Outlook desktop application Learn how to do it.

4 How can I back up Outlook emails to an external hard drive?

You can back up Outlook emails to an external hard drive using the Import/Export Wizard. Connect the external drive to your computer.

  • Step 1: Open Microsoft Outlook and log in > Click File-> Open & Export->Import/Export.

  • Step 2: Select Export to a File option in the Import and Export Wizard and then click Next.

  • Step 3: Click Outlook Data File (.pst) -> Next. Select the desired folder to be backed up and click Next.

  • Step 4: Click Browse. Select the external drive from the list of storage devices and then create a name for your backup file. Click OK.

  • Step 5: Click Next->Finish. To secure your mails, enter a password when prompted-> Click OK. Otherwise, click Cancel.

5) How do I move my Outlook emails to a new computer?

To move your Outlook emails to a new computer, you need to first transfer the mails to an external hard drive, following the previously mentioned steps.  Now, connect the external hard drive to the new computer and copy the PST file to the computer’s hard drive. Before importing the PST file into Outlook, ensure that Outlook is installed on the new machine.To import the PST file to Outlook ,follow the given steps:

  • Step 1: Open MS Outlook and click File -> Open & Export->Import/Export.

  • Step 2: Select Import from another program or file -> Next.

  • Step 3: Click on Outlook Data File (.pst) -> Next.

  • Step 4: Click on Browse to navigate to the PST file location-> Click Next

  • Step 5: Select folders that you need to import.  Click Finish to complete the import process.

6) How can I restore my Outlook backup?

There are different ways in which you can restore your Outlook backup. Learn how to do it in our in-depth article on recovering Outlook emails.

Why you should back up Outlook emails 

Microsoft is not responsible for backing up your data and they recommend backing up your Microsoft 365 data using third-party apps. Don’t take our word for it; here is an extract from their Services Agreement (Section 6.b).


Here are 6 other reasons why you should take a backup of  your Outlook emails.

User errors: According to Data Center Knowledge, 70 percent of data loss incidents are caused by user errors or accidental deletions.(a)An employee in your organisation might accidentally delete important mails while trying to free up storage space(b) A careless click on a phishing email could expose Outlook credentials resulting in account takeover and data loss.

Data Loss from Ransomware Attacks: Bitdefender’s Mid-Year Threat Landscape Report 2020 announced a seven-fold spike in the number of ransomware attacks in 2020 when compared to 2019. In the event of a ransomware attack, Outlook users who do not have an off-site backup could lose critical emails.

Business Continuity: According to CRN, on 7th October 2020, Microsoft servers suffered outage for the third time in 10 days. The incident follows a five-hour outage on September 28 and a four-hour outage on October 1.Backing up your emails can help you access them even if Outlook is not available in the event of an outage which is not very uncommon.

Internal Threats: Steve Durbin, Managing Director of the Information Security Forum explains that the massive shift to a work from the home model (as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) may cause employees to become disgruntled or resentful due to lowered remuneration, reduced promotion opportunities and uncertainty about the future.A disgruntled employee could permanently delete critical business emails with attachments.

Limitations of Native Retention Settings: The native retention settings offered by Microsoft do not serve as an effective data recovery option. This is because the retention copies are:(a) only stored for 30 days in a separate hidden folder within the users account, beyond which it is permanently lost.(b) stored along with your live account data. In the event of a ransomware attack, all your Microsoft 365 data is compromised, including the retention copies. Having an independent backup of your data stored off-site is an effective bulwark against such data loss incidents.

Legal Compliance and Litigation Purposes: Most companies are required to comply with several state and federal regulations. A backup strategy can help in supporting compliance requirements.

In this article
  • Back up Outlook emails with native tools
  • Back up Outlook emails using third-party tools
  • Frequently asked questions on Outlook backup
  • Why you should back up Outlook emails