Oct
26

4 plug-ins for quick backup of Outlook e-mail messages, files, contacts, address book

May there be some situations when excessive caution and heed are superfluous? Quite possible, but not when it comes to creating backup copies of your data. Ask your friends if they lost any important data at least once. Do you think how many of them will answer “no, never”? And how many of those who never lost (if there are any) will say that they didn’t make any efforts to protect their data? I can bet there will be none. True, from time to time we happen to face some surprise or unexpectedness. But we are quite able to prevent at least half of such unpleasantnesses. As to preventing a loss of information, it will hardly take a lot of your time to periodically back up your most important data. So, in our today’s review we will have a close look at Outlook back up plug-ins.

Add-in Version Developer Price Supports
MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook 4.0.2.240 TechHit $49.95 Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007.
EZ Backup Outlook Basic 5.2 RinjaniSoft $9.95 No info.
MsgSave 4.3.4 Sarcophagus Ltd. $80 Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007.
Outlook Backup 2.6 BackRex Software $29.95 Microsoft Outlook 97, 98, 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook from TechHit

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2003, 2002/XP, 2000
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook web-site

The installation went with no surprises. No special options, but no problems either. A couple of clicks, a few seconds of waiting and the software is ready to work. The MessageSave icon is located on the main MS Outlook toolbar, and in spite of its tiny size, its look is self-explanatory and it’s absolutely clear what it is purposed for:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Icon
There will hardly be any users who could misinterpret the meaning of an envelope and a floppy disk on the icon. By clicking on the icon you get access to the mail window of the plug-in:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Main menu
Here you can find all you may need for quick back up of your e-mail. At this stage I have some criticism regarding the usability. The option for saving selected messages (for me this is the most in-demand option) is active only if you select the messages first, and start the plug-in second. Otherwise, you will have only the back up option for all messages in the Inbox folder (with the ability to save the messages in subfolders as well). The Save selected messages option becomes inactive. You will have to close the plug-in, select messages you want to save, then run MessageSave again, and only after that you will be able to save the messages form the Inbox folder that you really need. However, it is only the first few uses of MessageSave that will probably be that messy.

Now let’s go on to the settings (the Options button in the lower right corner on the screenshot above). As to file naming, the format of saved e-mail messages, the ability to execute some application, deleting original messages and printing, these options are available in a special area accessible by clicking on the Options button.

In File naming, the following options are available: sender name, sender email, message date, message time and recipient names. The same options are available for subfolders. Also, the user can overwrite any existing file which may be useful if you want to make your information up-to-date. If the overwriting option is not checked, the plug-in will create another file with a number added to the file name (for example, 1 will be added to the first file with the same name, 2 – to the second, etc.).

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Options
In addition, MessageSave can backup Contacts, Calendar and Tasks items. The plug-in provides a few variants of formats for saved e-mail messages:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Available backup file formats
The following types are available: Outlook msg, Plain text, Internet RFC-822, HTML, MBOX, vCard. MessageSave doesn’t trace your location, neither does it trace the item you are trying to save, nor its format. The list of available formats never changes. However, if you try to save the message in the vCard format, it will not work. No confusion happens and no backup either:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Backup report window
Nevertheless, the window with the destination backup directory does get opened.

The MessageSave plug-in has the built-in filter accessible by clicking on the Options button. But for some reasons, the Filter button is located in the upper right corner on the Options window. Such a solution can hardly be considered very comfortable for the user. The filter itself has the following look:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Filter
Such filtering capabilities can scarcely be considered comprehensive. There are some advanced filtering options, though, integrated with the Outlook’s Advanced Find dialog.

If to continue the theme of oddities, I noticed the following in the software behavior: if you performed an e-mail backup with the Options window opened, when you click on the add-in’s icon for the next time, the Options window will show up together with the main window of MessageSave. Also, it’s not quite clear why the Save Settings button doesn’t close the add-in.

Some additional options are available in a separate window by clicking on the More Options button:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Advanced options
Most of them are nothing special indeed. The only thing that is not quite obvious is that why the Add sender information option is in the General tab and not in the Naming tab.

The History tab offers the Reminder option which will tell you whether this or that particular e-mail has been already backed up.

Logging, as follows from its name, allows you to create a log file of message backups.

The Custom Field tab enables the custom file name field. Also, you can use it for further inclusion in the filename, or subfolder name. I cannot tell you for sure what it actually may be needed for, considering the fact that the plug-in doesn’t support creating of multiple profiles and rules.

Sheduler, in view of the unavailability of a fully-functional filter seems no more that a pleasant decoration.

Naming options in contrast to the previous settings also look a bit far-fetched and not that necessary:

MessageSave for Microsoft Outlook: Filenaming
Thus, what do we have, as they say, in residuo? No doubts, this Outlook plug-in copes with its main task. Moreover, it can create back up copies not only for mail folders, but for Outlook tasks, contact, and calendar, backup e-mail together with attachments. In contrast to that, frankly poor automation settings, and some usability drawbacks.

EZ Backup Outlook Basic from RinjaniSoft

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2003, 2002/XP, 2000
  • Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

EZ Backup Outlook Basic web-site

Firstly, this Outlook tool is not the add-in but rather a full-value standalone application. Secondly, in view of these specificities, the backup process with Backup Outlook Basic looks totally different.

In fact, Microsoft Outlook itself doesn’t participate in the back up process at all. This software needs Outlook’s data only. Moreover, when Backup Outlook Basic is running, its vender strongly recommends having Outlook closed. Let’s see in detail how this software works. Upon installation, you will see the following window:

EZ Backup Outlook Basic: Welcome screen
Here we have a brief description of the main functions, some peculiarities of the trial mode, and the price. By clicking on the Next button, you go on directly to the backup operation:

EZ Backup Outlook Basic: Welcome screen

Backup Outlook Basic creates a self-extracting archive with backup copies of your e-mail, the Outlook address book and settings (PST files).

Upon completion of the backup process, the tool shows the following window:

EZ Backup Outlook Basic: Backup report
If you draw your attention to the name of the backup file, you may notice that it contains the current date (the Append Date to backup File option). The option of creating the file name by the user is not available. Maximum that you can do is to place files into different folders. Otherwise, backup data will be overwritten.

The file, as promised, was saved to the desktop, where it appeared in the form of this icon:

EZ Backup Outlook Basic: Shortcut
As mentioned above, it is a self-extracting archive in the .exe format. On its start, the restore wizard should run as well. However, restoring of data is available in the registered version only. The truth is that, it is the kind of proposal I am unlikely to accept. I am unsure how this tool will behave in restoring data in MS Outlook: will it just overwrite the existing data with its own, or will it synchronize them somehow? I didn’t find the answer either in the software, or on the vendor web-site.

EZ Backup Outlook Basic: Restoring your Outlook data
In any case, you won’t be able to restore your data unless you buy a license of EZ Backup Outlook.

MsgSave from Sarcophagus Ltd.

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 or above.
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 or above.

MsgSave for Outlook web-site

The installation of this plug-in will not bring any surprises either. A few second of waiting, and you can use the add-in.

The MsgSave button took its place on the Microsoft Outlook toolbar, and besides the icon it also has the add-in’s name on it. When you click on the icon, you will see the window that tells you how many days of trial are left. From this window you can purchase the add-in, install the key or continue using the software in the trial mode.

MsgSave: Add-in button

The last is exactly what we are going to do now.

The main window, the first tab, Save Options:
MsgSave: Main window

Along with usual, must-have settings (such as Save currently selected messages, Save all messages in current folder, etc. ) there is an interesting feature, Import Emails from Disk to Current Folder, which immediately brings the idea of using it for a backup with full-value restoring and synchronization. The Save Attachments Only option is of interest to those who work with attachments (the best attachment plug-ins were reviewed in the previous post).

The Configure Folders tab gives you access to mail folders the content of which you want to backup. As shown in the screenshot below, the user has access to Outlook mail folders only. Also, there is an option for adding some text to the file name, and the option for removing attachments. All current settings are displayed right here, in the Settings window:

MsgSave: Configure folders
The name of the saved file can be created in the Filename Format tab. The following name elements are available: date, to, from, subject, user defined text. They can be used in different combinations and order. Separators can also be selected by the user:

MsgSave: Filename format

Now about the last tab, which is About. All is mainly as expected: the current version, vendor address and web-site, and in my case the number of trial days left:

MsgSave: About add-in
Summing up: the add-in offers a well thought-out system for working with mail folders with the ability to assign a separate destination backup folder for each Outlook folder. Plus, the ability to save or remove file attachments.

ABF Outlook Backup from ABF software Inc.

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 – 2003.
  • Microsoft Windows 98/Me/NT4/2000/XP/2003.

ABF Outlook Backup web-site

This representative of backup tools also constitutes a stand along application. First of all, I was pleased to find so many languages of interface supported:

Outlook Backup: Setup language selection
From all the add-ins I’ve dealt with, this one has the best options for interface localization. The following languages are available: German, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Polish.

The Shareware reminder window will remind you about the number of trial days left:

Outlook Backup: reminder window
The mail window of ABF Outlook Backup looks like this:

Outlook Backup: Backup settings
You can decide yourself where to save backup Outlook data, and supply your backup file with proper description (date, profile, computer mane will be added and saved automatically).

The following items can be backed up: data files, options, templates, custom scripts, stationeries and favorites. After clicking Backup, you will have to wait for a while:

Outlook Backup: Backup progress bar
The tool saves backup copies in Microsoft Outlook in its own *ob format.

The Restore tab allows restoring data from backups, and you can use previously written descriptions to remind yourself the circumstances of backuping. All fields that are inactive in the screenshot below are such exceptionally due to trial version limitations. And sure, there are no such limitations in a registered version.

Outlook Backup: Restore settings

Adding here the ability to select desired items for backup, easiness-to-use, and also considering the fact that ABF is a pioneer of solutions for backuping Outlook data, this add-in seems the right choice.

Outlook Backup from BackRex Software

Supports:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2002 (XP), 2000, 98, 97.
  • Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista.

Outlook Backup web-site

After completion of the installation and start of the add-in, the welcome wizard will take over the helm and guide you through the program:

Outlook Backup: Setup

First, you select the desired action:

Outlook Backup: Wizard
This may be backup, restore, rollback (available in a registered version) and scheduled backup. As seen in the screenshot above, this is the first step. Then, quite unexpectedly, Outlook Backup gave a warning about my Firefox being run:

Outlook Backup: Alert
I find it a bit weird, because it is an Outlook backup tool. Well, though it is the first software of the four reviewed today that is so overscrupulous, let’s cherish it and close Firefox.

At the next step, you specify the destination folder and the backup file name.

Archive can also be self-extracting and has the verify option. In a registered version, there is an option for creating password protected archives:

Outlook Backup: Select a folder
The next screen shed light on the request to close the browser that was given at the first step:

Outlook Backup: Select a folder
In addition to numerous back up options, you can create backup copies for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and MS Outlook itself. In Internet Explorer you can back up settings, history, favorites, autocomplete, and dialup. The Firefox item has no backup categories. For Outlook, backups are available for personal store, account settings, auto archive, signatures, stationery and preferences.

After the backup process is complete, you see the following window, informing you that the backup copies were successfully created and saved:

Outlook Backup: Report
In the destination folder, Outlook Backup creates a folder with the following content:

Outlook Backup: Backup folder
That is, besides the .exe file that you can use for restoring a backup copy, in the same folder you can see the help file that tells you how to do it. The restore operation presents no difficulties for the user and is analogous to the backup operation:

Outlook Backup: Restore your Outlook data
You select Restore instead of Backup and then you specify the path to the folder with a back up copy. That’s it.

In fact, the ability to back up browsers’ content doesn’t seem to be of much use, especially considering the fact that decent browsers can do it themselves. As to Outlook backuping, if you appreciate the simplicity of work (just creating a backup copy without going into nitty-gritty details), this back up plug-in is worth your attention. It creates all-sufficient backups, and taking into account a built-in help system, it’s hard to imagine that any difficulties might arise.

In our today’s review it hardly makes any sense to create a final rating table, because too different approaches to creating all these back up plug-ins were used. Except for some blunders in MessageSave, it’s scarcely possible to pick out any drawbacks in the reviewed plug-ins. All actually depends on your needs and preferences.

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