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How do I back up my Email messages or folders using the Archive feature in Outlook 2013/2016?

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Note: With larger mailbox quota, you can now set up an archive on the server.  This article is for local archives.

One way to back up email messages is to use the Outlook AutoArchive feature.  Archiving means moving messages to an archive folder at regularly scheduled intervals.

The first time that you run Outlook, AutoArchive is turned on by default and runs every 14 days.  You can change how often AutoArchive runs, specify the Outlook data file (.pst) used to store archived items, and choose when items in your Outlook folders are subject to being archived.  Expired items are mail and meeting items whose content is no longer valid after a certain date, such as a meeting you had four months ago that still appears on your calendar.  Although an expiration date is optional, you can define it at the time you create the item or at a later date.  When the item expires, it becomes unavailable and has a strike-out mark through it.

Outlook 2013/2016

To change the AutoArchive settings:

  1. Select the File tab.
  2. Choose Options.
  3. On the left, select Advanced.
  4. Under AutoArchive, choose AutoArchive Settings.
  5. Select the Run AutoArchive every n days check box and specify how often to run AutoArchive.
  6. Select any other options that you want.  You can choose to have old items deleted automatically at AutoArchive.

  • If you change the archive file listed under Move old items to, this new file will be used each time that AutoArchive runs.
  • Set the default folder options first before customizing individual folder settings.  Otherwise, you may unintentionally change the default settings.
  • For more information about AutoArchive settings, see AutoArchive settings explained.

You can also manually back up and archive items in addition to using AutoArchive or as a replacement.  Manual archiving provides flexibility and allows you to specify exactly which folders are included in the archive and which archive Outlook Data File (.pst) is used.

 To manually archive Outlook items:

  1. Choose File > Cleanup Tools > Archive.
  2. Select the option Archive this folder and all subfolders and choose the folder that you want to archive.  Any subfolder of the folder that you select will be included in this manual archive.
  3. Under Archive items older than, enter a date.
  4. If you do not want to use the default file or location, choose Archive file > Browse to specify a new file or location.  Browse to find the file that you want or enter the file name and choose OK.  The destination file location appears in the Archive file box.
  5. Select the Include items with “Do not AutoArchive” checked check box to include any items that might be individually marked to be excluded from automatic archiving.  This option does not remove that exclusion from these items but instead ignores the Do not AutoArchive check box for this archive only.


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