Customize Outlook's archive settings

Though it's no substitute for a full backup, tweaking the archive options in Outlook 2007 and 2003 can have some real benefits.

Dennis O'Reilly Former CNET contributor
Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.
Dennis O'Reilly
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You never know when you're going to need an Outlook message that was archived long ago. In a comment on a previous post about moving Outlook mail to local folders, Cliff Brandt asked how to move a file from the archive to one of his main Outlook folders.

Doing so is a breeze, but keep in mind, an archive relocates only Outlook data of a specific age and is intended primarily to keep your Outlook.pst file a manageable size. A backup copies all your Outlook data and allows you to restore all your messages, contacts, tasks, and calendar entries.

The best way to back up Outlook is to use Microsoft's free Personal Folders Backup, available in versions for Outlook 2007, 2003, and 2002. Microsoft's Help and How-To site provides instructions for backing up Outlook 2003. More information on backing up and restoring .pst files is available on the Microsoft Support site.

Create an Outlook archive
In Outlook 2007, click File > Archive, select the folder you want to archive, and choose a date in the drop-down menu next to "Archive items older than." If you want to store the archive in a location other than Outlook's default folder, click Browse and select the location of your choice. Once you've chosen your archive options, click OK.

Microsoft Outlook 2007 Archive dialog
Outlook 2007's Archive settings let you choose a name and start date for your archive and change its storage location. Microsoft

Instructions for creating an archive in Outlook 2003 are on the Microsoft Office Online site.

To open an archive in Outlook 2007, click File > Open > Outlook Data File, select the archive file you created previously, and click OK.

Microsoft Outlook 2007 Open Outlook Data File dialog
Select your the archive file you want to open in Outlook and click OK. Microsoft

The file will appear in Outlook's left pane. Choose the folder containing the message you want to retrieve, and then drag the file from the right pane into the folder of your choice in the left pane.

To enable or disable Outlook 2007's AutoArchive feature, click Tools > Options > Other, choose the AutoArchive button, and check or uncheck "Run AutoArchive every." The AutoArchive dialog box lets you choose how often to archive, the age of the archived entries, and the name and location of the archive file. Make sure "Show archive folder in folder list" is checked before you click OK.

Microsoft Outlook 2007 AutoArchive settings
Outlook 2007's AutoArchive options let you decide how often to archive Outlook data and the age of entries to be archived. Microsoft

The Microsoft Office Online site lists the steps for auto-archiving folders in Outlook 2003.