How to Restore Microsoft Outlook Contacts


Whether you're upgrading to a new computer or recovering from a crash, you may find it necessary to restore your Outlook contacts at some point. Fortunately, Microsoft Outlook saves all of this information automatically, so as long as the files can be accessed on your hard drive, restoring your contacts is actually a very simple procedure.

By default, Microsoft Outlook stores all of your personal data--messages, contacts, calendar items, and tasks--in a personal storage folder, or a .pst file, which is saved on your hard disk drive. This .pst file can be used to either restore or move your Outlook data in the event that you unexpectedly lose data, experience a hardware failure, or if you need to transfer data from one computer to another.

In addition, you may have a personal address book that contains contact information not included in your Outlook Address Book or contact list. While the Outlook Address Book is stored in a .pst file, the personal address book is saved in a separate file on your hard disk with a .pab file extension.

Restore a .pst File

  • Right-click on your .pst file and go to "Properties." Ensure that the "Read Only" attribute is not selected. If the file is set to "Read Only," the restore process will fail. The .pst file may be saved either on your local hard drive, or on some type of portable media (for example, a CD-ROM or a USB flash drive).

  • Open Outlook. On the File menu, go to "Import and Export." Select "Import from another program or file," and click "Next."

  • Click "Personal Folder File" (.pst), then click "Next."

  • Enter the path and name of the .pst file that you want to restore, and click "Next."

  • Select the folder that you want to import. If you wish to import everything in the .pst file, select the top of the hierarchy, and click "Finish."

Restore a .pab File

  • Run a Windows search for files with the .pab file extension. Copy the .pab file to the same location that contains your .pst backup file. This can be used either to restore your personal address book or to transfer it to a different computer.

  • Close all messaging programs (in this case, Microsoft Outlook). Open the Windows Control Panel, and select "User Accounts."

  • Double-click on the "Mail" icon. Then click "Show Profiles." Select the appropriate profile, and choose "Properties."

  • Click "Email Accounts." Select "Add a New Directory or Address Book," then click "Next." Choose "Additional Address Books," then click "Next."

  • Select "Personal Address Book," then click "Next."

  • Enter the path and the name of the personal address book (.pab) file that you want to restore, and click "Apply." Click "OK," and your personal address book should now be restored.

Tips & Warnings

  • Note that the information above applies only to Microsoft Outlook, not Microsoft Outlook Express. In addition, it does not apply to corporate environments that utilize a Microsoft Exchange Server.

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