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- Marti -

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Backing up your data is an essential task when it comes to computers. You need to be prepared for the moment when (not if) something goes terribly wrong and it's time for a clean install. But don't forget to include your e-mail data in your backup. You don't want to lose all those messages or e-mail addresses, do you? We'll show you how to back up all your important e-mail data, such as the actual messages, rules, signatures, and address book if you're using Outlook Express (OE), one of the most popular e-mail clients for home computer users.

OE is part of the Microsoft Internet Explorer integrated package of software. These procedures should work with all versions of OE 5. If you find that you don't have some of the options listed here, you might need to update your software to a newer version.

Outlook Express Identities

When you set up OE, on a new installation of Windows, you create an identity. Windows assigns this identity a random 36-character GUID (Global Unique IDentifier). To find out your GUID, use Windows Explorer and look in this location:

C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Identities

When several members of a household want to use OE to work with just their own mailbox(es), you can create multiple identities. In other words, you can create an identity for User 1 (yourself), User 2 (your spouse), User 3 (your teenage kid), etc. When a user starts up OE, they will select their identity, enter their password if applicable, and will then be able to work with just their mail messages.

For more information about identities, refer to the OE help files or to this article: How to Create and use Identities in Outlook Express -

You'll see later on in this article why this is important to know.

Back It Up

Before you start, you need to think about where you will set up a storage location for your OE backups. You could set up a folder on your hard drive that contains subfolders for each identity, with subfolders for all of the various parts of OE. For example, you could create a folder named OE Backup. In this folder, create a subfolder for each identity, e.g. John Smith, Mary Smith, Susie Smith, etc. In each one of these folders, create a folder for OE rules, OE messages, OE accounts, etc.

Regularly back up all your OE data to this folder, then copy this folder to a backup media such as Zip, CD-R, or network drive.

It's a good idea to be working offline (that is, not connected to the Internet) while doing these steps. On the main OE toolbar, select File and then click on Work Offline.

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