The problem you have described is one that endless Outlook users have
come across at some point or another, and so it is very well
Assuming that you wish to archive these messages so that they can be
loaded back into Outlook at a later date, the following information is
meant for describing how this is done.
Microsoft has designed the *.PST file format (also known as the
Personal Folder File) as the means by which Outlook can perform
function on email messages (it can actually do a lot more with the
other elements in Outlook but I will focus on email messages as that
is what your question focused on). Each installation of Outlook
creates a default PST file where where sent/received messages are
stored. Each time Outlook is opened, it will attempt to retrieve this
specific file as it is integral to the operation of the program.
Furthermore, this file format is capable of seperating messages into
the folder structure you see in Outlook.
EXPORTING EMAIL IN OUTLOOK
Outlook XP (as well previous versions of Outlook) have the ability to
extract email by manipulating the main PST file for a given
installation. This is know as the Import/Export function - using the
export portion of this feature will allow you to select specific
folders that you want to extract to a file for archiving. This will
not affect the state of your messages within Outlook since you are not
changing the main PST file, but simply creating a new one.
The steps for exporting email using the Export feature (complete with
screenshots) are laid out step-by-step in this article provided by
Texas Tech University:
ARCHIVING YOUR PST FILE(s)
The result of exporting certain folders and messages is a file
(something like mybackup.pst that you've specified) that is stored in
a known location on your system. From your question, it seems that
this file will be very large if you export everything at once, so you
may want to segment the export process so that you end up with
manageable file sizes (these options are available during the export
process). From this point, you can treat this file just like any other
file you may want to move - you can either move the file(s) onto some
sort of media (such as a CD or zip disk), or directly onto your
external hard drive if it is connected to your system.
You may be wondering how to view the contents of PST files without
actually bringing them back into Outlook. I've come across a useful
utility, MailNavigator, that will show you what is contained within an
Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of not only how to
archive email in Outlook XP, but also the underlying structure behind
it. If you have any problems understanding the information above
please feel free to post a clarification and I will reply in a timely
Google Answers Researcher
PST "file format specifications"
"outlook xp" export folders