Moving Microsoft Outlook to another computer [solved]

I recently bought a new computer and was faced with the incredibly challenging task of moving my Microsoft Outlook email archive and email account settings from the old computer to the new computer.

A search with Google found lots of answers about transfer wizards in Office 2003 (unfortunately I have Office 2007 and that feature’s gone, if it was ever there), about using “file export” (it doesn’t export or import email accounts, and if it does the function is extremely limited), and about copying and creating Windows Registry entries (an incredibly complicated and dangerous thing for most users to attempt).

I thought “there has to be an easier way to do this!” And of course, there is … but you have to dig long and hard before you find it. Here’s the way I did it, and I hope it will help others.

  • Step 1: Create an email archive – you do this in Outlook (go to “File | New | Outlook Data File” and save is somewhere you can easily find it again (like on your desktop). I called mine “Tony’s archive” so I could spot it easily.
  • Step 2: Move all the emails from your Inbox to the “Inbox” folder in the new email archive. Then move all your emails from the Sent folder to the “Sent” folder of the new email archive. Your Outlook “Personal Folders” should now be pretty empty except for “deleted items” (which you don’t want) and perhaps any special folders you’ve created there (which can be moved in the same way).
  • Step 3:  Close Outlook. You won’t need it any more.
  • Step 4: Download a product called “BackRex Outlook Backup” from http://backsettings.com/order.html – the product costs only US$29.90 and it’ll save you so much time as well as giving you a backup and restore capability for your email data in the future (in case your hard disk fails, for example, or your computer gets stolen).
  • Step 5: Install and run BackRex. It’s very easy to use but if you have a very large email archive I recommend you uncheck that option for now and just copy your email archive PST file across to the new computer instead. You can easily open that from Outlook directly. It’s the account settings that are hard to transfer.
  • Step 6: Install BackRex on the new computer and “restore” the settings file you created on the old computer (you can do this across a network or wireless connection, or just save the PST and backup files to a thumb drive or CD-ROM).
  • Step 7: You might need to reboot the new computer before doing this, but all that’s needed now is to copy the PST file to your new computer, open Outlook (all your account settings will be there now) and use “File | Open | Outlook Data File”, locate your PST archive and open it.
  • Step 8: When you first open Outlook and do a “send and receive”, you will need to re-enter your email passwords because they are encrypted in Outlook and cannot be transferred automatically.
  • Optional: If you don’t want to keep using the archive file, just move or copy the emails from “Inbox” and “Sent Items” back into your “Personal Folders”, close the archive file and you can then delete it. I keep mine as a last resort recovery option on another hard disk.

That’s it – it’s as simple as that. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.

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