According to a report from the Willis Towers Watson consultancy, human error was behind 90 percent of all data loss incidents.

When an important email is permanently lost due to user deletions, restoring it back to the account would be a time-consuming activity.

This becomes even more difficult when it comes to Outlook as Microsoft Office 365 has only limited features in terms of backup and restore solutions. Microsoft is not responsible for data loss due to accidental deletions, ransomware or malicious activity.

So, what are the options available to backup Outlook emails?

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Download the PDF.

Yes! Give me the PDF

Introduction to Office 365 Email Backup

Outlook is one of the most popular email services. According to ZDNet, Microsoft Office 365 had over 120 million active business users by the end of 2017 and the free web version of Outlook – – has around 400 million active users in early 2018.

Outlook backup takes a copy of your emails and stores them in a secure location say, cloud storage. This will become handy to restore your emails along with the label and other important data whenever there is a loss.  

Why Should You Backup Outlook Emails in Office 365?

Here are the 4 primary reasons why you should backup Outlook emails.

Section 1 - How to Backup Outlook Emails Using Native Office 365 Features / Desktop client?

There are different ways individuals who use the free version of Outlook can take a backup of their emails.

As mentioned, 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 – Backup Office 365 Emails Using Email forwarding
  • Option 2 – Backup Office 365 Email Using Export option
  • Option 3 – Backup Office 365 Email Using IMAP Settings – Auto Archiving

Option 1 - How to Backup Outlook Emails in Office 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 Setup Email Forwarding for Outlook on the Web?

1. Go to the Outlook toolbar, select ‘Settings’ and click on ‘Mail’

Email Forwarding-Mail

2. Navigate to ‘Accounts’ → ‘Forwarding’.

3. Click on the radio button ‘Start forwarding’ and type the email address to which a copy of your email has to be forwarded.

Start Forwarding
4. Check the box, ‘Keep a copy of forwarded messages’ to ensure that the original emails in your mailbox are not deleted after forwarding.

5. Click the ‘Save’ button.

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

How to Setup 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:

1. Launch Outlook and Navigate to ‘File’ and select the option ‘Info’ from the left pane.

Manage Rules and Alerts (1)

2. Click on the option ‘Manage Rules & Alerts’. This will open a new wizard to set up ‘Rules and Alerts’.

3. Click on the ‘New Rule’ option from the top left corner of the wizard page. This will open another pop-up to create a rule.

Rules and Alerts-New Rule

4. Choose the option ‘Apply rule on messages I receive’, available under the section ‘Start’  from a blank rule.

5. Click on ‘Next’.

Apply rule on messages option

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.

6. Click on ‘Next’ without selecting any condition as we are backing up the entire mailbox.

7. Next, check the box, ‘forward it to people’ or ‘public group’ and then click on the link people or public group under section step 2.

8. Click on ‘Next’.

Forward it to people or public group

9. Next, enter the email address to which a copy of your email will be forwarded to backup Outlook emails and click on ‘OK’.

10. 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.

11. 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.

Any deleted or lost emails can easily be recovered from the alternate email during data loss incidents caused due to accidents or malicious intentions.

Option 2 - How to Backup Outlook Emails in Office 365 Using Export Option?

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?

1. Launch Outlook desktop application.

2. Select the ‘File option’ in the menu bar.

3. Navigate to ‘Open & Export’ and select the option ‘Import/Export’. This will open the Import/Export wizard.

4. Choose the option ‘Export to a file’ and click on ‘Next’.

Import and Export Wizard

5. Next, select the desired folder – for example, Inbox –  that has to be exported and click on ‘Next’.

6. In the next screen, click on the ‘Browse’ button to choose the location in which you want to store the exported email(s).

7. Click on the button ‘Finish’. The selected folder –Inbox – will be exported as a pst file and will be kept in the specified location.

Even though manually exporting your emails and storing it in hardware might serve the purpose of a backup, this method has some serious limitations.

Pro-tip: You will have to regularly take manual backup to stay up-to-date with the emails. Also, older backups must be regularly deleted to save local storage space.

Option 3 - How to Backup Office 365 Emails Using IMAP Settings - Auto Archiving?

How to set up Auto Archive in Outlook

Launch Outlook Desktop

1. Click the ‘File’ tab and select ‘Options.’

2. Click on the option ‘Advanced>AutoArchive Settings’
AutoArchiving Settings

3. Click on ‘Run AutoArchive every’ and select how often you want it to run. By default, it will be set for 14 days. You can change it according to your need.

4. Click on ‘Clean out items older than’ option and set a time period to move your files from Inbox to the Archive folder.

5. Click on the option ‘Move old items to:’ and type a file name for the archived items to be transferred to, or click Browse to select from a list.

AutoArchiving Options

6. Click on ‘OK’.

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

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

Section 2 - How to Backup Outlook Emails Using eDiscovery in Office 365?

eDiscovery tool helps in searching and locating data that could be used as potential evidence during a legal procedure. 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 of four modules:

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

Hold: Protects important data from user 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. To know more about these options, click here.

How to Use eDiscovery Tool to Backup Your Outlook Emails?

1. Log in to Microsoft 365 admin center.

2. Navigate to the ‘Admin centers’ → on the left pane → and click on the ‘Security & Compliance’ option from the drop-down menu.

Security and Compliance (1)

3. You will be redirected to the page, ‘Security and Compliance Admin Center’.

4. Navigate to ‘Search & Investigation’ – on the left pane – and click on the ‘eDiscovery’ option from the drop-down menu.

Search and investigation (1)
5. Next, click on the button ‘Create a case’ to hold the user data.

Create a case (1)
6. Enter the Case name and Description.

7. Click on ‘Save’.

8. Next, click on the ‘Open’ button, to go to the case created.

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?

1. Navigate to ‘Hold’ in the Toolbar and click on ‘Create’.

Creating Hold
2. Enter the hold name and description.

3. Click on ‘Next’.

4. Click on ‘Choose users, groups, or teams’ under the ‘Exchange email’ option to choose the user accounts to be preserved.

Choose locations

5. Search for users to be added, in the new window that will open.

6. Select the desired username and click the button ‘Choose’.

7. Click on the ‘Done’ button on the next page.

This will take you back to the ‘Create a New Hold’ page.

8. Click on ‘Next’.

9. Click on the ‘Add Conditions’ options to filter the emails using conditions like sender name, receiver name, sent date, and so on – only if needed. Click on ‘Next’.

Add Conditions

10. Review your hold settings and click on the button ‘Create this hold’ to complete the process.

Now that you have put the user on hold, in future the administrator can search for the user data even after user deletions or modifications. To know how, click here.

Section 3 - How to Backup Office 365 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 the top trusted cloud storage solutions like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform 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 Cloud Backup Tools to Backup Outlook Emails in Office 365?
Using third-party cloud backup tools like SysCloud, you can:

Option 1 - How to Backup Office 365 Emails Using SysCloud?

1.Launch SysCloud’s application using this link

2. Log in to Office 365 using your admin credentials.
Logging in will take you to the home page of the SysCloud application.

SysCloud Homepage

3. Navigate to ‘Backup’ in the menu bar and select ‘Start Backup’ from the drop-down menu.

4. Next, select the accounts of the users you want to backup.

5. Click on the ‘Add button’ on the right side of the screen.

Selecting Users

This will add the selected users to the backup list.

6. Click the button ‘Start Backup’ to start the backup progress.

Start Backup
The progress can be seen in the ‘Archive & Restore’ page.

Archive and Restore

Now you have a second copy of your data safely stored on the cloud and you can retrieve it when needed.

Limitations of Using Native Features and eDiscovery as a Backup Solution

You can eliminate all these limitations by using SysCloud to backup your Outlook data.

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Outlook Emails in Office 365?

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 articleHow to Recover Permanently Deleted Outlook Emails in Office 365?

Try SysCloud’s Backup Solution

Start Free Trial

Leave a Reply