September 23, 2004

I've lost all the data for my Outlook calendar because of a system crash while upgrading from Windows 98 to XP. I backed up all my data files except Outlook.

I use the Outlook calendar only. Do you have any idea what file to back up?

Also, I used to be able to get it to auto boot, but the instructions for doing it don't seem to work in XP. Any idea how to get Outlook to auto boot in XP? I have XP Home.

Since you use only the calendar module in Outlook, backups will be easy to make in Windows XP, and setting your computer to run Outlook each time your computer is turned on is easier still. Both require the same tool, the Search command in the Windows XP Start menu.

You need to search for the Outlook software and then make a shortcut for that program to store in the list of programs that start when the machine is booted.

To do this you need to call up the Search command, type in Outlook.exe and click OK. This will call up a window with a line pointing to the program. Right-click the line and select the Make Shortcut option in the pop-up list. This will create an icon pointing to Outlook and place it on your desktop.

Now, with nothing else running, right-click on the Start button and select Explore. This brings up a window with a list of all the folders on your machine with one called Start Menu highlighted. Click it open and then click the + sign alongside Programs. In this display you will find an icon for a folder called Startup. Drag the icon for your new Outlook shortcut from the desktop into that folder and the program will run each time the machine runs.

Use the same drill for backups. Just type in Outlook.pst in the Search box to call up the default master data file for Outlook. Give that line a right-click and select Copy. Now go to the desktop and right-click and select Paste. The new icon will be a copy of your calendar, ready to drag to a floppy disk, a CD-R, a thumb drive or whatever other medium you use for backup storage.

That's my way. There's also the Microsoft way to make backups, which is more complicated than the solution I offer. People with more complicated Outlook setups should check it out at

Q and A

James Coates of the Chicago Tribune may be reached via e-mail at jcoates@

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