The Most Dangerous Common Backup Mistake (Outlook PST Backup)


In the more than 10 years that Storagepipe has been in business, we’ve heard more than our fair share of data loss horror-stories. It should come as no surprise that many people call us after it’s too late, wanting to put a proper data protection plan in place after the recent loss of some very important files.

But what might surprise you is that many of these data disaster victims weren’t negligent at all. A significant portion of our post-disaster inquiries come from people and organizations that had already implemented a backup process… but that an unexpected error had caused these backups to fail when it came time to recover.

These data loss incidents have a number of causes, which usually fall into one of 4 broad categories:

  • Human error
  • Mechanical failure
  • Poor planning
  • Lack of proper testing

When it comes to laptop and desktop users, there is one specific backup mistake which sticks out more than any other.

When most windows users back up their computers, they normally just copy the contents of their Desktops and Documents folders. This seems perfectly logical and safe, until the time comes to recover.

That’s when they suddenly find out that they’ve lost all of their old Outlook Emails. Given the critical nature of email information, this can lead to embarrassing situations and problems.

Part of the reason that outlook data is so poorly protected, is that this data resides in hard-to-find hidden folders.

In this video, I’d like to show you how to locate and save the email data that’s created by Microsoft Outlook. This way, you can protect your email data whether you’re using an automated backup service or you decide to back up yourself.

In this case, we’re using Windows 7 with Outlook 2007. But it will serve as a good basis for working with other software versions.

First, you’ll need to go into your Windows Control Panel. From the category screen, we’ll select “User Accounts”.

Here, you should see a listing that says “Mail”. When you click on it, a window comes up. Select the “Email Accounts” button. And you should find the location of your PST files under the “Data Files” tab.

Now there’s another problem. If you navigate to the folder outlined in this window, you may find that it doesn’t exist. This is because it resides in a hidden folder.

It’s ironic that these files are hidden to protect your email data, because it’s also the reason that most people forget to back up their emails.

In order to display this folder, we’ll navigate the “User” folder in Windows Explorer. Under the Organize tab, select the “Folder and Search Options” option. When the window pops up, click on the View tab and select the “Show Hidden Files and Folders” button from the Advanced Settings list.

Now, when you go back to the User folder, you’ll see that the App Data folder is visible. From here, you can easily navigate to the appropriate location and back up your Outlook Email data.

If – after all of the information outlined in this tutorial – you still can’t locate your Outlook data, we’ve also included some default locations for various software versions in the video description.

Of course, the best way to ensure that your PST files are protected would be to automate your backups using a service that is designed specifically with Outlook in mind. This way, you eliminate the possibility of human error or procrastination.

Whether you’re doing your backups by hand, or have them automated through a service like Storagepipe CDP, please make sure that all of your Outlook emails are safely and frequently backed up. And for maximum protection… remember to keep your backups off-site, and to test them at least once per year with a full recovery drill.

If you’d like more information about protecting your corporate email, please visit Storagepipe for cloud backup.

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