How to Restore or Open Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010 PST Data File

If you have previously backed up your Outlook Data and now you want to restore (or open) your Outlook backup archive – .pst file -to another computer, then read this article to find out how to do this. 

First of all, we remind you, that the best and most reliable way to perform a backup or restore of your Outlook data is to do that manually, and not by using the “Import / Export” capability given by Microsoft Outlook.

The reason for doing this manually and the suggested procedure to take a backup of your Outlook data are described in this article: How to Backup Outlook data.

If you want to restore or open Outlook data from a backup archive “.pst”  file – then follow the steps below:

How to properly Restore or Open Outlook pst archive (In Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010 versions).


Part 1. Restore Outlook data (pst file) to a new computer (new Windows Installation) *

Notice*: To open your OLD Outlook Data in a computer without losing its current Outlook data then read Part 2:

Step 1: Open Outlook without creating a new account

1. Open Outlook application and as Outlook is running for the first time, it asks you to create an account.

Bypass this step by choosing “No” and then “Finish” to continue.



Step 2: Locate Outlook Personal folders data file (.pst).

Now you must locate where Outlook stores its information (Data file). *

Notice*: To be able to view Outlook data file, go to Windows “Control Panel”, open “Folder Options” and under “View” tab, enable the “Show Hidden files, folders and drives” option.

Usually (by default) Outlook data files are stored in one single file (“pst”) at the following location on your computer:

Windows XP:

C:\Documents and Settings\<your username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Windows Vista or 7:

‘C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook


If you want to manually find your Outlook data files location, then:

Outlook 2003 *:

Click here if you are using Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010.

1. (From Outlook main menu), choose : “Tools“ > “Options


2. In “Options” window, choose “Mail Setup” tab.


3. In “Mail Setup” tab, choose “Data files”.


4. In “Data Files” window, choose “Open Folder”.


5. Continue to Step 3.


Outlook 2007 or 2010

If are you using Outlook 2007, 2010 and you want to find the Outlook personal folders location (.pst file), then:

1. From “File” menu go to “Info” > “Account Settings”.

Notice*: In Outlook 2007, go to Tools menu, click Options, click the Mail Setup tab, and then click E-mail Accounts.


2. In “Account Settings” window, choose “Data Files” tab and click to “Open File Location”.


3. Continue to the next step.


Step 3: Restore your Outlook Data files.

1. First close all open Outlook windows.

2. Then write down the name of the current Outlook data file. (The default name is: “Outlook.pst”)

3. Rename the current Outlook Data file (e.g. “Outlook.pst”) to any name you want (e.g. “OutlookEmpty.pst”).



4. Without closing this window, open a new Windows Explorer to find and copy here (at the Outlook Data files folder)  the Outlook backup file from your backup location.

5. Now inside Outlook data files location, you should have two Outlook Data files named:

a. Outlook.pst (your Outlook backup file) &

b. OutlookEmpty.pst

6. Rename – if needed – the Outlook backup data file to the name you wrote down previously.


7. Now open your Outlook application and you should have successfully restored your Outlook data.



Part 2: How to Open Outlook backup – pst file – to your currently working Outlook application.

If you want to open you Outlook backup archive inside your currently working Outlook application (if you are already working with Outlook) then follow the steps below:

Step 1: Copy Outlook backup data file to your computer.

From your backup location (e.g. your external hard drive) find and copy the Outlook data file (e.g. Outlook.pst) to a folder on your local hard disk drive (e.g. inside “C:\Documents and Settings\Admin\My Documents\OutlookData” folder).


Step 2: Open Outlook archive pst file from Outlook.

1. Open Outlook and from main menu go to: “File” > “Open” > “Data file”.


2. Locate Outlook backup pst file in your local disk (e.g. “Outlook.pst”) from the location you copied it in Step 1, (e.g.“My Documents\OutlookData”) and choose “OK”.


3. Now inside Outlook you should have two (2) “Personal Folders” under “All Mail Folders” section:


4. Expand the 2nd “Personal folder” to view your restored Outlook data.

Tip: To avoid confusing the folders with the same names, you can rename them to any name you prefer.

How to rename a mail folder in Microsoft Outlook:

1a. Right click” at the mail folder you want to rename and from the drop-down menu choose “Properties”.


1b. At “Personal Folders Properties” window, choose “Advanced”.


1c. At “Personal folder” settings properties, go to “Name:” section and type the name you want.

Then press “OK” (twice) and start working with your Outlook application again.


(Screenshot after renaming Outlook Personal Folders)


If this article was useful for you, please consider supporting us by making a donation. Even $1 can a make a huge difference for us in our effort to continue to help others while keeping this site free: