Migrating Outlook Express To a New Computer

I was on-site yesterday visiting a client and discovered I needed to transfer their email and Address Book from their failing hard drive to the new hard drive I had setup for them. She uses Outlook Express, and it is not a simple process to migrate email data between hard drives or computers, especially when the data hasn’t been exported before the hard drive started to fail.

Once I had the new hard drive setup and working running Windows. I hooked up the old hard drive via an external hard drive USB enclosure to the new computer. I was thrilled that it was able to read it! I did some Google searches and found the exact locations of where Outlook Express stores its data, and the process in which to import it.

I opened up Outlook Express for the “first time”, and setup the client’s email account.

In my research, I found the the first thing to know in this process is that you can’t simply copy and paste the Outlook Express files from the old hard drive location to the new hard drive. The data must be imported through Outlook Express for it to be recognized.

Since these files are hidden, the first thing to do is unhide them. Go into the Control Panel -> Folder Options, and select the ‘see hidden files and folders’ option, and click ‘ok’.

In Outlook Express, Click on File -> Import -> Messages.

Navigate to the old hard drive and find the
C:\Documents and Settings\<User>\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\ {GUID}\ Microsoft\ Outlook Express folder.

Cick ‘open’. Outlook Express should find the files it needs automatically and import them.

To import your Address Book (contacts), open the Address Book program on your computer. It can be found by going to Start Menu ->Programs -> Address Book.

Next, go to File -> Import -> Address Book, and navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\ {Username}\ Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book and click ‘open’. All of your contacts should be automatically imported, and show up in Outlook Express as well.

This process honestly wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. I have honestly heard it can be a real nightmare. I suspect I got lucky when I found the right Google results. Most of the results pointed to articles describing the fairly simple process of exporting the correct way and then importing, not going to where the actual files are stored.

I can only hope this article helps many, and I strongly encourage you and potentially your clients to upgrade to Windows Live Mail after you finish setting up Outlook Express, and the latter is over a decade old.


One Response to Migrating Outlook Express To a New Computer

  1. John Clecak says:

    This is the first site I have hit that actually tells me something and gives some instructions that I can actually figure out.

    I beg your help for my problem, at least give me a price to stear me right.

    My situation is based on Windows XP failing on me one day earlier this year. I first attempted to format the hard drive which failed. So I attempted to reload XP which seemed to work. Alas, I soon discovered that it partitioned the hard drive & loaded XP as a “second” OS. When I boot up, it gives me a choice of which one to activate. The newly loaded one or the non-operating one. It took me awhile and I eventualy found most of my files and was able to transfere them over to the new partition. I could never find my old extensive Outlook contact files and archives. This is the first glimmer that it still may be possible.

    Can you help me find them on this old partion and teach me how I might transfere them?

    It was a real pain to locate all the old drivers I needed, download and install them, to make alot of my laptop work again. It would be wonderful to be able to purge the entire old OS and partition.

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