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Backing up your Outlook Express email can be done with a few easy steps.

How do I backup my Outlook Express email?

Backing up is important, we all know that. And in many cases, one of the most important things to be backed up is your Outlook Express email.

Now, of course, you should be backing up your entire machine. But there are can certainly cases where all you want is to backup you email. The good news is that it's easy to do.

Outlook Express stores your email in a set of ".dbx" files, one per folder. To locate where those files are located:

  • Click on the Tools menu

  • Select the Options... item

  • Click on the Maintenance tab

  • Click on the Store Folder button

The resulting dialog will indicate which directory contains your email folders.

Exit Outlook Express, and simply backup the entire contents of that directory.

Article C2161 - August 20, 2004 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Scott Simonson
August 31, 2004 6:34 AM

I take backing up Outlook Express a step further. I move the store folder location to another drive(if available). To do this I create another folder on another drive("My Outlook Express" for instance) and simply change my store folder location to this newly created folder on another drive. I then simply use Outlook Express to import the original messages into the new folder. Than I backup "My Outlook Express", which is a bit more clearer. I hate having such stuff buried in the "Documents and Settings" folder. It may not be secure but I am the only one using this PC.

June 20, 2005 1:26 AM

Excellent help!

December 2, 2005 3:34 AM

Hi. First Question: When you say "simply back up the entire contents of that directory," do you mean to put in a disk and copy that directory to the disk? Second Question: I tried to open items in the folder, but got a message that couldn't be opened. Needed to know what created it. I tried opening by using Microsoft word, but now I get symbols that I can't read. Also all the documents in the stored email folders have been switched to M so when I open anything it just looks like symbols. Thank you very much. Teri

November 30, 2006 8:46 AM

I have indeed been backing up my Outlook Express address book and .dbx files. I am about to migrate from a PC to an iMac, which will run Windows XP (as well as Tiger). I will download the newest version of Outlook Express and will import the address book. However, what is the procedure for telling the new Outlook Express to use the backed-up .dbx files (of which I have hundreds in scores of different folders).

Please send me an e-mail to let me know when you answer, as this is time critical. Thanks.

March 28, 2007 7:49 PM

Hello, I'm about to backup my Outlook Express AND everything else in my computer (if I can) for the first time, so right now I'd like to know if there are more places in my computer to backup besides the ones I listed below?:

All files and folders of OE
MS Word
Corel WordPerfect8

Thanks so much for letting me know if I'm missing anything to backup. :o) Adela

Leo Notenboom
March 29, 2007 7:06 PM

Hash: SHA1

There's no way for me to know all the places that might be important to how you
use your computer. In general, the safest thing to do is to backup everything.
- From c:\ on down.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


May 27, 2007 3:03 AM

Tried following your instructions for finding where my emails were, but my 'Doocuments and Settings\Owner' directory does not have a 'Local Settings' folder. Nor can I find any *.dbx files or folders. I am using Windows XP. Can you help?

July 4, 2007 9:58 AM

I have installed a MAXTOR ONE TOUCH III, USB 2.0 and instructed it to back up my C:drive; but I don't think it backs up Outlook Express emails PLUS all attachments to those emails. How can I be sure that my emails+attachments are being backed up on a regular basis? Do I need something other than a Maxtor?

July 4, 2007 10:05 AM

I tried your directions for locating Outlook folders, but when I click on "Tools", then "Internet Options", I do not see a "Maintenance" tab. Am I in the wrong 'options' box?

November 5, 2007 10:27 PM

Are my Outlook Express emails stored on my hard
drive or in memory? I have over 8,000 unread messages.

Leo A. Notenboom
November 6, 2007 1:31 PM

Hash: SHA1

Hard drive. Anything "stored" only in memory is lost when you turn off yoru


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


C. Gillette
January 6, 2008 5:16 PM

Gave me the missing .dot information needed to find missing emails.
Thank you.

October 14, 2008 8:18 PM

For some strange reason I am no longer able to delete any of the messages in my "INBOX" the delete button seems to be broken and I cannot use the keyboard either, nor right click to delete. What did I do to cause this and how can I repair it?

pat gunn
November 14, 2008 10:06 AM

to see local settings folder, you have to view hidden documents/tools/folder options/view/show hidden folders. then click ok. then you follow as above instructed by leo and youl see the outlook expres folder containing your email files. hope that hellps .

all the best

Pat Gunn.

March 23, 2009 7:16 AM

I backed up outlook express and it saved the files as .tib, I cannot open them. nothing I do will work. I build my own PC's so I do know a bit about software...etc. some of those files are over 2gbs, so I am talking about alot of emails!
please help. seems that MS gave up on those .tib extentions and left alot of us in the dark.
I really hate BILL!!!!

April 7, 2009 11:03 PM

there is no maintance tab in the tools menu

michael shuster
May 13, 2009 9:01 PM

I have been working on this issue for more than a week and close to hanging myself (not really)

1. a week ago my outlook express crashed and compacted all my folders--the folders were left but all the emails were gone

2. I found all the dbx files in tact and tried to reimport them several ways

*from creating a new identity and moving them there (after deleting folders.dbx, etc)

3. outlook reads my folders--but not my emails

4. today outlook decided to delete all my inbox emails which i also found as dbx file

5. downloaded thunderbird to say bye bye and convert dbx files into eml files (but the programs they suggest do not work)

6. downloaded some restore programs that show some of the dbx folders and all emails while others say--no emails (even though the corresponding dbx files are huge and obviously have the emails)

I am very desperate and have no idea what to do anymore. I am not a techie and just going nuts trying to figure out solution

I literally followed like 20 how tos from different forums an dnothing helps

If someone out there can be kind enough to really find a way for this to work, please let me know (including any open source or free dbx to eml converters so i can use thunderbird)

June 29, 2009 1:29 AM

Thank you for your post.
I want to know how can i restore this file in windows mail at Windows Vista.

Ronak Shah
December 2, 2009 11:18 PM

I do not found "Maintenance" tab as you guided...

March 29, 2011 8:17 AM

Go here to backup & restore Outlook Express

Egbert Zijlema
March 29, 2011 8:37 AM

I backed up my Windows Address Book (WAB-file) in the same way, but when trying to use it on one of my other machines, OE showed up with an empty-looking address book. So I had to import the addresses. No problem, of course, but after this process my WAB-file had doubled in disksize. In other words the addresses were already there, but OE did not display them. Can one explain this weird behaviour? Both machines run ons XP, albeit one Home and one Pro version.
BTW: Out of curiosity I copied it back to the old machine and yes: the address book contained 2 items of every single address.

Robert Wild
April 20, 2011 7:52 AM

Changing over computers and wanting to save the email records other than hard copy. Thanks for the tip. I still prefer XP than to upgrade to 7 at the current time.

Lee Cromwell
July 11, 2011 7:38 AM

How does one turn off or stop the pop up window in OE from opening 10 to 50 times a day about wanting to compact OE? I did this once and it deleted all my saved emails. Before this last reinstall when ever I compacted it did more of a compress but I never lost my emails that were saved in my saved folders. Some have said they are still on my comp but I cannot find them?

Willa Cummings
October 29, 2011 8:19 PM

My gosh...please go into detail! I went to another site and found detailed instructions.

Since this article was written my opinion has changed: the best way to backup Outlook Express is to move to a completely different email program: Why Outlook Express Must Die

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