August 12, 2004|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

Q: I use my computer for spreadsheet/word processing and my e-mail account. I was unhappy with Windows XP and reinstalled Windows 98. All folders for Outlook and the other stuff were moved to a D: partition of the hard drive. Now, Outlook is blank, without the contacts and saved e-mails (including confirmation numbers for my upcoming trip).

Is there a way for Outlook to look at the original directory and restore my files? I have tried to look into Tools and even the Help feature without any luck.

Some guidance, please.

A: I'll bet Microsoft would make even more money if it could get the word out about how its customers can restore their data, like e-mails, addresses and calendars, when moving to new computers or just rearranging an old one.

It's reasonably easy to do this, but it does take a bit of digging around inside the machine. The solution requires finding the Outlook data file on the D: partition and then moving it to the C: partition to replace the blank data file you wound up with after the switch.

First, you'll need to find the old data file by using the Search tool under the Start Menu.

Change the search location box you will see to the D: partition. Now select a search of files and folders and then use the file name Outlook.pst, which is the name given to the master file that holds data for the Outlook modules.

When the Outlook.pst file comes up, drag it to the desktop, which moves it from the D: to the C: partitions. Repeat the search on the C: drive. When Outlook.pst comes up, give it a right-click and pick rename. Call it something easy to remember -- I suggest xoutlook.pst.

Right-click again and select the choice to open the folder containing the file. Finally, drag the Outlook.pst file into the folder, along with its renamed cousin.

That's all you should need to do. But keep in mind that if something goes wrong, you can at least get back to where you are now by renaming the Outlook file to something else and changing xoutlook.pst back to Outlook.pst.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. James Coates can be contacted via e-mail at jcoates@

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