Backup Entourage

Backup your Identity

For any data that’s important, backup is key to good computing practices. Find an easy solution for your backup needs and DO IT! This series is going to talk about what and how to backup from the simplest method of manually copying your data to using third party software.

Microsoft Entourage installs the Microsoft User Data folder (MUD) in your User’s Document folder. Inside this folder is your Identity (named Main by default). All of your mail, contacts, etc are stored here. When you backup, you should backup your Main Identity folder.

Let’s start with the most basic option to backup…. make a copy your Main Identity folder. If you aren’t in the habit of backing up, you can set a Task in Entourage to remind you. No excuses for not backing up now. However, you will soon get tired of manually performing this chore so continue reading to see what other options you have along with keys to a good backup.

Keys to a good backup

  1. As a general rule you should shut down all Office programs (including Office Notifications) before any Entourage backups.
  2. It’s possible not to discover corruption and you could be backing up a corrupt file. This is why you should keep an archive and/or snapshot of older backups just in case.
  3. Save you backup on a different drive or burn to DVD.
  4. Select multiple options for backup when your data is important.

Consider the size of your database

Do you have emails going back for years in your Identity? It might be time to consider archiving your data. Not only will you not have to backup the old messages daily, it will not be in constant use and in jeopardy of being corrupted. See Options for end of year archiving on ideas to archive your old data. Don’t use your Main Identity in Entourage to store every email you’ve received since time began. 🙂

Entourage and Time Machine

Since Time Machine runs hourly, it’s not possible to quit Entourage and the Microsoft Database daemon prior to the hourly backup. The developers suggest you exclude your Main Identity in Time Machine. 

Backup Entourage to Time Machine nightly

Previously, in Alternative method to use Entourage and Time Machine we discussed how to use Automator and iCal to schedule quitting Entourage and the Microsoft Database daemon and scheduling the backup with iCal so Time Machine could have a copy that was safe to backup. This can be done daily (or however you scheduled) the workflow in iCal.

Download the workflow and edit for your computer or follow these directions. [Note there are some differences between Leopard and Snow Leopard actions. If you see a notice about older version, drag over the new to replace older version.]

  1. Create a folder in your Documents folder named “Entourage Backup”
  2. Open Automator and select “Custom”
  3. Select “Run AppleScript” in Utilities. Paste this script to quit Entourage into the workflow where indicated (* Your script goes here *) This script was edited April, 2009 to include all Microsoft applications. See link at end for more info.
  4. Select Files & Folders Drag Action “Get Specified Finder Items” to the workflow area on the right of the window. Add you Identity folder (Main is the default name)
  5. Select Files & Folders Drag Action “Copy Finder Items” to the workflow area on the right of the window. Select the folder “Entourage Backup” from the pop up. Check “Replace existing files”
  6. Select Utilities. Add action “Show Growl Notification” (optional)
  7. Save your workflow as “Backup Main Identity for Time Machine”.
  8. Next, Save As plug-in select iCal plugin/alarm. iCal will open and allow you to schedule your backup. Be sure to set the time to quit, frequency (I suggest daily) and you can add notifications if desired.

Don’t have Leopard for Time Machine backups?

For users that have not upgraded to Leopard, check out this tutorial on how to make a Time-Machine-like backup.

Backup your data as files

In addition to backing up your entire Identity, you can save your data in many formats.

  1. Entourage archive (.rge) files (can only be used by Entourage)
  2. MBOX files ( not only cross platform, but can be used by most email applications)
  3. tab delimited files, text (can be imported into Excel or opened by any text editor)

You can also select to backup specific folders and contacts as individual files. Using the export as Entourage archive, you can select by category and by type.

We’ll go into more detail on exporting as individual files and formats in one of the upcoming parts to this series. If you want to get a head start on one of the third party options we’ll be reviewing, download EagleFiler by Michael Tsai author of SpamSieve. Free 30-day, fully-featured trial.

Share your backup method

Please share your method for backing up in comments. If you have a particular method that you feel deserves an article contact me through the comments and we can arrange you to share your backup option.

Recommended Links:

I suggest reading the Take Control of Mac OS X Backups for general backup of your Mac.

Links to all backup articles

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19 comments to Backup Entourage

  • Sue

    I backup with Time Machine, using the approach in “Entourage and Time Machine.” But I made a minor addition to the workflow shown in the “View the workflow” link, which I find very useful: I added a “Show Growl Notification” action after the “Copy Finder Items” action. This enables me to know when the backup has been completed, which otherwise isn’t always obvious.

  • Great addition to the workflow. Do you need to check “Sticky”?
    I sent you a private message, be sure to check for subject “Your comment on the Entourage Help Blog”.

  • Peter

    Its true, backups are very essential to let you sleep peacefully at night. I found one piece of software at a site called pulse solutions. However instead of replicating to an external drive. It creates a backup via FTP. I found it at

  • Nice option! Thanks for sharing. I did notice that the program automatically zips and uploads your backup files at a daily scheduled so be sure that Entourage and the Microsoft Database daemon are quit when this action takes place.
    I can see this as a good option for users that don’t have the drive space to backup. BTW, what ftp service do you use, or do you have your own server?

  • Patrick

    Our recommended backup application is IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager. In order to assure a successful backup, we suggest that users logout of their user account each night, giving TSM unfettered access to the Entourage database.

  • Kenneth Taylor

    I think having a regular backup plan is really important (learnt that when I started using MobileMe) so this series is excellent.
    However, there is one issue I cannot resolve. How to retain Calendar Categories in backups. Can anyone suggest an efficient way for me to backup and restore my local Calendar in Entourage 2008. If I make an Archive I notice that the Address Book contacts will restore and retain their categories but the Calendar does not.
    Any solutions?

  • The next series is going to be about exporting individual items like this. The only solution which isn’t a very good one, is to export Calendar events by category. Depending on how many calendar events categories you have this could be a real pain. I’m going to research other options.
    BTW, Tasks and Notes don’t retain categories either.

  • Nigel

    I quit Microsoft applications and copy the Main identity every night using an Applescript, as you suggest. What would be very helpful is if the script could first run the Database Utility app and do a Verify and a Compact before the backup, quitting the script with an alert if the Utility found a problem. But I am not sure that the Database Utility is scriptable to do this. Do you know? If not, could the MBU be persuaded to add the appropriate Applescript dictionary – I can’t imagine that it is a lot of work!

  • First, it is NOT recommended that you compact your database unless it is absolutely necessary to regain space on your hard drive.
    The database will be left with ‘wasted’ space in it every time you delete something. However, this is not all bad, since the wasted space is used up with new data as it is added. This way, over a period of time (assuming that you are deleting stuff as you go) the database will probably reach an optimum size, after which the stuff you delete is roughly equal to the stuff you add, and no further growth takes place.
    What you are asking to do is just not possible in a script. If you want a quick and easy way to verify your database, I would use the export as Entourage archive (.rge) file for all items. If that exports and imports into a new Identity without problems, then your data is good.

  • Lisa Marker

    I used the steps above, 1-7 to establish a backup for Entourage.
    Just a comment: please remember that not all of us are true techies.
    Unless I had looked at the preview of the script, I would not have known to remove the parentheses and asterisks from the script (which does not read the same as what is in the Cut and Paste script). Also, and this was even more important, I searched for a very long time before I discovered that “Files & Folders” was inside the Automator Library folder.
    Basically, assume no knowledge on the part of your readers, and do a key-by-keystroke instruction.
    I did finally figure it out, but I have to wait overnight now to see if I really wrote it right.
    Thanks for having this available, though – I did finally figure it out.

  • I found a cool program called “Email Backup Pro” that will quit Entourage for you, then backup contacts and email to a folder, even a network volume, like a shared or server volume. After backup, it re-launches Entourage. It costs $10 U.S., but they have a free version that does a bit less called “Email Backup.” I don’t work for them, just think they have a cool product. Their product works with Mail. Entourage v.X, 2004 and 2008. Saves writing scripts and stuff.
    Works with OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6.
    It has a scheduler so backups can be done unattended and automatically.
    For those that want more info., here are the links to each product;
    I found them when looking for an Entourage backup solution for a client.

  • Ivan Sellers

    Hi, I followed instruction for Apple Script but I think there might be a problem saving to a firewire external drive. My Script opens at the designated time but does not “run”. Could there be another explanation for this? Great info though so thanks. Ivan

  • Without more details, I’m not sure exactly what you are doing. How are you running the script? Are you using the workflow in Automator? Did you create your own workflow or did you download the example?

  • Mel Solon

    Hello Techie Genius:
    How do I duplicate my Main Identity into another identity/account?
    I’m in 2008. I’ve already upgraded from 2004.
    I simply want a backup of my Main Identity in a different identity in case my main identity gets corrupted and I have to rebuild it as I have a number of times, mostly, if not all, in 2004. I don’t think I’ve done it since I’ve upgraded.
    The manual speaks of exporting first and merging identities, but that doesn’t sound like what I want to do.
    With bated breath, I await your reply.
    PS. Happy holidays.

  • Simply duplicate it in the Finder. It will be renamed Main Identity Copy. You can also drag it to another volume to copy it.
    Often a newly imported Office 2004 Identity will have problems. If you export the data as .rge file and/or MBOX files and create a new Identity that will clear up the problems that were imported.

  • Ola Wetterberg

    I have followed the instructions in “Entourage and Time machine” above. But I cannot figure out how to find the “save as plug-in” command? etc.
    Help me please. Is this a command in automator (its not listed) or just a Save as- command (plug-in is not an option).

  • If you are running Snow Leopard, the directions have changed. You start by selecting iCal Alarm. When saved it makes the same iCal plugin.

  • Hello,
    I wondered if anyone can assist. We have backed up a terminated employee’s Mac (262 GB total) via Toast backup software. Due to the large sizes of the entourage databases, the disk burning software spanned the data – breaking up the database itself. Entourage now does not recognize, and no way I am aware of to consolidate those spanned databases back to one. Running Office 2008.
    Am I out of luck here?
    Thank you,