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Archive or back up your mailbox

Set up AutoArchive

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If you don’t want to take the time to clean up your mailbox manually, you can let Outlook do the work for you, by setting up AutoArchive. Here’s how.

Set up AutoArchive

Email can fill your Outlook inbox quickly – new messages, replies, and forwards. Before you know it, you could have thousands of messages. Keep your Outlook Inbox and its folders under control by moving older items you want to keep to an archive. Use AutoArchive to do this automatically.

You can change how often AutoArchive runs, where it stores archived items, and how long Outlook keeps items before archiving them.

  1. Click FILE > Options > Advanced.

  2. Under AutoArchive, click AutoArchive Settings.

  3. Click the Run AutoArchive every in days box and specify how often to run AutoArchive.

  4. Choose any other options you want, such as having Outlook delete old items instead of archiving them.

    Archive and AutoArchive might not be available if your mail profile connects to an Exchange Server. It is also possible that your organization has a mail retention policy that overrides AutoArchive. Check with your system administrator for more information.

Want more?

Archive older items manually

It is a good idea to periodically remove old items from your mailbox, especially if your email account has a size limit. You can delete things, or you can move them to a personal folder where they are stored locally in an Outlook Data File. But if you don't want to take the time to clean up your mailbox manually, you can let Outlook do the work for you by setting up AutoArchive. Here is how that works.

Click the FILE tab, and Options.

Click Advanced and AutoArchive Settings.

AutoArchive is similar to exporting to a file except it runs automatically, and uses an aging period to determine what to archive.

You'll see how that works in a minute. Also, exporting copies files where AutoArchiving moves them, so they no longer exist in their original location. First, turn on AutoArchive by checking Run AutoArchive every, and entering a time period.

Then, decide if you want to check Prompt before AutoArchive runs.

Next, decide what Outlook does as it runs AutoArchive.

In most cases, you'll want to check Delete expired items (e-mail folders only). Make sure Archive or delete old items is checked.

If you want to quickly access your archived items, check Show archive folder in folder list. Next, decide the default folder settings starting with the aging period.

The default is six months which means any mailbox item older than six months will be archived. You can change that if you want and choose months, weeks, or days.

Finally, you choose whether to Move old items to an Outlook Data File or Permanently delete old items. In most cases, you'll choose the first option, and then click Browse to find a location, and enter a name for the archive file.

Click OK.

Finally, you click Apply these settings to all folders now, then OK, and OK.

Now, the default settings are applied to all the folders in your mailbox.

The only folders that aren't archived are your contact folders because typically it doesn't make any sense to archive contacts based on aging period.

After you determine global default settings, you can modify settings for individual folders.

For example, let's say you don't want to archive deleted files.

Right-click Deleted Items and click Properties.

Then, click the AutoArchive tab. Because we apply the default settings to all the folders, this option is selected Archive items in this folder using the default settings.

But, if you don't want to archive deleted items, you can select Do not archive items in this folder.

Or, you can select Archive this folder using these settings if you want more options.

For example, you can enter a different aging period for a folder. May be, you want deleted items archived every month. Finally, you can decide what Outlook does with the archived items, move them to the default archive folder, move them to a different data file. May be, you want to save the items, but just not with the others, or permanently delete them.

We'll choose that option.

Notice that this is different from simply not archiving the folder. When you are done, click OK. Now, the first time AutoArchive runs, the archived items are moved from your mailbox to the archived file, which then appears in the folder list as a personal folder.

If archiving doesn't appear to be working on a corporate email account, check with your IT administrator. A retention policy may apply to your company mail.

Up next, a way you can initiate archiving manually.

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