Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Your email and contact information should be backed up as part of your overall backup strategy. Or you may want to export them.

Hi, Leo. Where does Windows Live Mail, under Windows 7, store my contact details? I'd like to be able to back up those details.

In this excerpt from Answercast #11, I locate the directory where the contacts and email are stored, but then suggest another approach to keeping them backed up.

How to find the contact storage folder

So, I have two answers for you.

First, I'll actually answer your question:

  • They are in C:/Users/your-login-name/appdata/local/Microsoft/WindowsLive/contacts.

That folder contains the files that are used by Windows Live contacts to store your contacts.

Your full backup scheme

Another approach that I would suggest you do instead (and backing up those files is good - don't get me wrong - but to back up only those files for your contacts doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense):

  • Back up those files as part of a larger backup scheme for your entire computer.

A way to save the contact list

If you're just wanting to save your contact information, what I would suggest you do instead is in Windows Live Mail, when you're looking at your contacts, use the export function and export them as a CSV file. Comma Separated Values is what CSV stands for.

The reason I suggest that is because that is a generic text file format which can typically be read by other contact management programs.

In other words, the files that you might find in the folder I mentioned (Windows Live contacts) will work only with Windows Live contacts. Quite possibly, they will only work if you put those back in exactly the right place.

CSV is a common data form

On the other hand, a CSV file (containing all of the contact data) is something that you could use pretty much anywhere.

In fact, since it's a CSV file, you can read it in a program such as Excel or some other spreadsheet program, such as Open Office Calc.

So, for a more generic way to save your contacts, I strongly recommend the export model rather than try to find the specific data files. Windows Live contacts might be kept in an encoded binary format that really wouldn't be very useful for you to look at directly.

Back to - Answercast #11

Article C5242 - April 23, 2012 « »

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?

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.