How-To Geek

Backup Windows Mail Messages and Contacts in Vista

If you’re running Vista and using Windows Mail to manage your email, you might want to back things up before upgrading to Windows 7. Today we take a look at how to backup your Windows Mail messages and contacts in Vista.

Backup Messages

Open up Windows Mail and go to File \ Export \ Messages.


Select “Microsoft Windows Mail” and hit next.


Browse to a location to store the messages and label it something that will let you know what it is.


Next you can choose to backup all folders, or hold the Ctrl key and click each folder you want to backup.


That’s all there is to it, click finish to close out of Windows Mail Export.


Backup Contacts

The process to backup email contacts is relatively the same. Click on File \ Export \ Windows Contacts.


Select the format you want to save the contacts as.


Select the fields you want to export with the file.


Restoring Contacts and Messages

If you need to transfer the data to another machine or from a reformat restoring the Contacts and Messages is a simple import process.


Windows 7 no longer includes a mail client but you can download Windows Live Mail which is part of the Live Essentials suite. The process is the same in Live Mail too, just follow the import wizard and point it to the backed up contacts and message files.


To be safe you might want to backup your contacts and messages in Windows Mail before going through the upgrade process. Of course you can use this method to backup your mail at any time to a flash drive or CD stored in a safe place.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 10/13/09

Comments (8)

  1. Anthony

    I tried importing message folders in Windows Vista and got the following message.

    “No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open. Please select another folder or try closing applications that may have files open”

    I don’t know what to do. Can you help.

  2. Andy

    I had this error with a friend when creating a backup over a network. To get around this I chose the local desktop as the destination for the export. Once complete manually copied to the network resource. This error also might apply to USB connected devices.

  3. Bobby


    Check file attributes. If you want to import messages all files shouldn’t have read only attribute.
    Just check it, clear it if read only is enabled and you are ready to import :-)

  4. xinurat

    You must copy folder outlook express to0, not just file
    then folowing the step one by one

  5. Cathy

    I exported by windows 7 email folders but when I opened the folders, the emails appeared with tons of numbers. I exported to MS windows mail format. What went wrong?

  6. Chuck "The Irish Hot Rod"

    I have Windows Vista and would like to print my email address box but can not find away of doing it. I do not have Outlook Express. It’s just plain old Windows Vista.
    “The Irish Hot Rod”

  7. Jane

    I’ve been having some trouble with my desk top windows vista lately and now for some reason I’m not getting my incoming emails. I can send though because I sent one to my laptop which has a separate address. I wanted to see if it would go through and it did but it still keeps telling me it was unable to send every time I click on the email icon. What must I do to get my mail coming back into this computer? I used the laptop to see if I had mail, which I knew I had because I get mail every day and it showed 140 messages that didn’t come through. It keeps showing the box is empty.

  8. Craig

    What if the computer will no longer power on. I dont even see the contacts folder in the app data windows mail. local folder, just inbox and all that?

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