Outlook is a program that repeatedly handles important data in many dimensions. Many people have the misconception of Outlook being just an e-mail application. Although its being used mainly as an e-mail application, it handles data in various forms, namely as in messages, contacts, appointments, tasks etc.

Microsoft Outlook is the most widely used e-mail client within businesses, where web based mail programs are restricted. Most important data like contacts and important conversations must be backed up with hard copies, while general Outlook data may be backed up using .pst files and saving them externally as soft copies.

What is a .pst file

.pst file or personal storage folder is used to save, back up and restore data in Outlook applications. The system automatically recognizes how and where Outlook has to save data, but external backing up and restoration is down to manual handling.

Outlook storage methods

According to the configuration, Outlook saves data either in the local hard disk or the Microsoft exchange server if available. By default .pst files are automatically stored onto to the configured location. If the mailbox is located on a server, by default Outlook saves the data in that particular mailbox.

Why back up data

Software and operating systems are very fragile and breaks down easily due to the smallest of reasons. so backing up of data is crucial regardless of the purpose of usage, whether its business or personal. .pst files are the most convenient method of handling Outlook data. Having backed up data helps in situations where hardware components of a system fail too. For example when a hard drive fails in a PC all the data within, may be erased and only a back up can come to the rescue.

.pst portability

Backed up Outlook data in the form of .pst files are portable, in the sense they can be moved across different hard drives and computers as required. This makes just a few clicks and using of import and export features within Outlook to experience portability. pst files are portable not only across different computers, but also across different versions of Outlook.

Microsoft exchange server

When working with networks, usually within business organizations, Outlook mailboxes may be located on a server, typically the Microsoft exchange server. Working with servers makes the back up tasks more easier since just backing up the server data covers all the users configured on the server.

Using of .pst files and backing up methods are virtually identical across Outlook 2002, 2003 and 2007. The mostly used feature with .pst files is the import/export tool within the file tab in Outlook, as it is used to save and retrieve data in Outlook compatible mode.