E-Mail Backup for Outlook Express (with a comment re Vista)

Would you agree that e-mail is the most - used application for most computers? I thought so. I'll bet many computers are used for little more than e-mailing.

This means that a periodic backup of your address book and some of your messages is vital.

Fortunately, it is EASY and quick and you don't need to buy any software nor download any freeware for the job. Follow my steps and make your own notes and you'll save yourself mountains of grief.

As Outlook Express is probably the most common e-mail program, and that's the one I use, that is what these notes are about.


Here is the situation:

1. I want to back up my entire address book (I tried, once, to print it out but it took about 500 pages, most being wasted)

2. I keep all my "important" messages in a folder I call "KEEPMAIL." This folder has 200+ messages covering about 200+ subjects that is a reference database for me. I want to back that entire folder up as well.

3. I want to back up all the information/data that Outlook Express needs to be "set up" to run properly

(I assume your computer has a CD burner; if not, you can make the backup on a ZIP disk or an external Hard Drive or a Thumb Drive)

I assume also that you do know how to use Windows Explorer; the "File Manager" in your computer.

As far as backing up the KEEPMAIL folder, you can use that same method for whatever folders of messages that you want to back up.


FIRST: backing up the Address Book:

1. In Windows Explorer, make a new folder: C:\OE_backup_Feb_8_2006. (no dot on the end)

2. In Outlook Express, open the Address Book.

3. File | Export | Address book (WAB)

4. A dialog box opens, allowing you to browse to that new folder; save the Address Book there with a name indicating its date.

5. You'll get a note telling you that it has been done.

At this point it would be good to go to that folder in Window Explorer, to make sure the addresses all are there. There will be one item, a WAB file, in the folder; double-click it to see all of your addresses.

DONE!

If you were not going to back up any mail folders, then you could now copy the new backup file to a CD or diskette or ZIP disk or a Thumb Drive and store it away from your computer. You can carry a Thumb Drive on a strap around your neck; I do.


SECOND:

backing up Mail Folders:

1. In Outlook Express, go to the KEEPMAIL folder (or whatever folder you are backing up)

2. File | Folder | Compact (this cleans blank spaces out of the folder, left there by items you have deleted)

3. Assuming you have made the new folder: C:\OE_backup_Feb_8_2006. (no dot on the end)

4. IN that folder make a new folder called "KEEPMAIL" (or whatever folder you are backing up)

5. NOW the fun part:

- open Windows Explorer and drag its edges so that it takes up the left side of your screen

- open Outlook Express a the KEEPMAIL folder and drag its edges so that it takes up the right side of your screen

It should now look like this:

email backup

6. In the Outlook Express window, select all the messages with Edit | Select all.

7. With your left mouse button, click on any one of the selected messages, KEEP the button depressed and drag the messages to the new "KEEPMAIL" folder in Windows Explorer. Drop them there.

8. Wait a few moments for the job to be done. (if there were folders within the KEEPMAIL folder, they won't be copied)

9. Check the result by double-clicking the new KEEPMAIL folder to see the messages there; each message should be an .eml file.

10. You can test this by double-clicking any of the eml files there; the messages should open as they do in OE.


THIRD:

backing up the data for your "accounts" (which tell Outlook Express HOW to operate)You will also want, no doubt, to back up the settings for sending and receiving emails and do so for each and every email address which you are using.

To back up the settings for an email address:

1. In Outlook Express, click "Tools" and then "Accounts."

2. In the "Internet Accounts" dialog box, click on the address you want to back up.

3. Click the "Export" button and in the "Export Internet Account" dialog box which pops up, browse to where you want to save the backup, e.g. "C:\OE backups - account abc" (if the address was "abc....")

4. Click the "Save" button to save the .iaf file.

5. Close the "Internet Accounts" dialog box.

That saves the backup of that email address account.


USING your backups:

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a major computer crash and have to reinstall Outlook Express, you can reverse the above process to import the address back into OE or the emails back to various OE folders.

Similarly, you can copy from the backup to OE in a different computer.

To use the backup of the "accounts" data:

In Outlook Express, click "Tools" and then "Accounts."

In the "Internet Accounts" dialog box, click the "Import" button.

In the "Import Internet Account" dialog box which pops up, browse to the .iaf backup file, click on the .iaf file and click the "open" button.

In the "Internet Accounts" dialog box which pops up, which now shows the new address, click "Close."

Test to be sure it is running OK.


A word if you are unfortunate enough to be using Windows Vista ;-(

I got a new laptop with Vista Home Premium installed. I hate Vista but had little choice. This was my "main" computer so I have my email addresses in it. I wanted to copy that same address list into my Good Old XP machine. With help from the good folks at the CNET forum, I wrote these notes to remind myself if I have to do it again:

BUT, for me, this did NOT do a good job; I blame VISTA for that.

A. Export the "Contacts" list (the address book) from Vista's "Windows Mail:"
In Vista's "Windows Mail" do this:
- File | Export
- Windows contacts
- choose "CSV" and "Export"
- enter a name for the file, e.g. "Oct1207addies" and click "Browse"
- save the csv file where you want it

B. Import the Contacts into Windows XP's "Outlook Express" address book:
Open Outlook Express
Open the address book and delete all the addresses (if you are not sure, make a copy first)
File | Import | Other Address Book
from the list of 7 that appears, choose the last one: "Text File (comma separated values)"
Click "Import"
Browse to the saved csv file and import it.


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