Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Friend of mine broke his Windows (doesn't boot). I will probably have to re-install OS. I want to mount his hard drive in my OS to back up some important files.

He said that he uses Outlook express in Vista OS. I'm not sure if it's Vista's Mail Client or Outlook.

What files I have to copy to backup mail and address book from Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Mail? Is it any good program for doing it automatically (for Linux or Windows)?

If there are tools or special procedures for other mail clients (for example Thunderbird) you can also name them to make this question more generic.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

while Outlook is fairly easy to recover if you have access to the hard drive (search for *.PST files), it's a bit trickier with Windows Mail (tricky because certain information such as account settings, message rules, etc. are stored in the Windows registry).

To backup and restore Windows Mail messages, make a copy of all the files in the directory that contains the message and database files. The default location is %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\

The contacts are stored in %USERPROFILE%\Contacts

In addition to backing up those files, export these 3 registry keys:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Mail

This is the most important registry key and contains nearly all the settings and rules for Windows Mail.


This key is kept for legacy purposes, but no longer contains much information. The Identities feature of Outlook Express has been removed in Windows Mail.


This key contains some information on the default accounts. In Outlook Express this key held all of the account information. In Windows Mail, most of the account information is now in .oeaccount files in the message store. See New Handling of Account Data on the Microsoft website. Note that when restoring a backed up copy, if Windows Vista has been reinstalled, the account passwords will need to be re-entered by the user manually.

Since the machine doesn't boot anymore, i recommend a repair installation first to backup these registry keys, then you may wipe the drive and go for a clean installation.

share|improve this answer
Thank You :). I will test it tomorrow. – Maciek Sawicki Jan 11 '10 at 0:30
you're more than welcome. – Molly7244 Jan 11 '10 at 1:11

My approach to restoring a downed machine: Slave the drive in another machine Take a image of the drive with Macrium Reflect (or at minimum secure the primary user accounts \users\*) Wipe the drive, restore the OS and all software recognized/needed. Patch the backup in as needed.

But in answer to your question. The location of mail on a windows vista xp machine. C:\Documents and Settings\ User \Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

"Automatic method" not sure, never looked for a professional method.

Joe is right, Sorry for the misinformation for some reason I wasn't thinking straight.

  • Vista or 7: c:\Users\ User \AppData\Local\Microsoft\outlook or Windows Mail
share|improve this answer
That path is wrong for Windows Vista. On Windows Vista Outlook is at C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and Windows Mail is at C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail – joeqwerty Jan 10 '10 at 4:21

This is the very reason that I recommend Thunderbird Portable Edition.

This means:

  • One folder contains application & data
  • Easy upgrade path and recover if upgrade fails
  • Not tied to a single machine and can be moved to another machine if required

I have just moved to TB3PE for my personal mail which has a 850Mb folder with emails spanning over 5 years.

share|improve this answer
I just use Gmail :) I think trusting them more then myself is very bad idea, but I'm lazy. And I will probably regret it. But anyway I think web mail storage is the safest option that I would recommend for less technical skilled users (that have to fight with viruses evryday). Anyway, It's not answare for my questions ;) – Maciek Sawicki Jan 10 '10 at 4:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .