How to Restore Outlook Express BAK Files

Written by jay leon
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How to Restore Outlook Express BAK Files
Recover backup files from the Recycle Bin. (a blue recycle symbol image by wayne ruston from

Sometimes Outlook Express files get corrupted, resulting in loss of e-mail messages that you did not delete. To protect against such loss, the program makes backup copies of folders during compacting. These backup files are kept in the Recycle Bin with file extension ".bak." If your mail folders are damaged for some reason, and you want to get your e-mails back, you may be able to fix the problem by restoring these backup copies.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Outlook Express
  • Recycle Bin

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Close Outlook Express.

  2. 2

    Double-click on the Recycle Bin to open it.

  3. 3

    Look for the Outlook Express BAK files that you want to restore.

  4. 4

    Right-click on each BAK file and choose "Restore."

  5. 5

    Launch Windows Explorer.

  6. 6

    Browse to the folder where your Outlook Express mail folder files are located. Check whether there are DBX files that have the same folder name as the BAK files you have restored. An example would be inbox.dbx and inbox.bak.

  7. 7

    Move the DBX folders with same names as the BAK files to another folder. You can create a temporary folder.

  8. 8

    Right-click on each BAK file. Choose "Rename." Change its file extension to DBX. Repeat for all the BAK files you restored.

  9. 9

    Launch Outlook Express. Your mail folders should now be restored. If so, you can delete the DBX files you moved to another folder.

Tips and warnings

  • Outlook Express should automatically create BAK files. If it does not do this, download and install the necessary patch from Microsoft's web site.
  • Make sure Windows Explorer displays file extensions, so you can rename the files properly.
  • You can locate Outlook Express's store folder within the program. In the main window, choose "Tools," "Options," "Maintenance." Click on "Store Folder" to view the destination folder for mail files. Or you can open the Recycle Bin and look under the "Original Location" details beside the BAK files.
  • File corruption may occur if Outlook Express fails to compact folders properly. To avoid this, let Outlook Express compact folders regularly and do not abort compaction once it starts. Delete files that you no longer need to keep the mail folders from growing too large.

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