Backup Your Contacts

Backup Your Contacts

Your contacts are important and with all of the sync problems users are experiencing lately, having a backup to restore your data can be invaluable. Previously in “Backup individual items” we discussed file types pros and cons along with how to backup each type of Entourage data (messages, contacts, events, notes, tasks).

Today we are going to discuss several options to backup your contacts.

  • Export Entourage archive (.rge) file using Automator
  • Export manually as .rge file
  • Export your groups
  • Export as tab-delimited file & save as .csv file
  • Upload to an online source

Create Automator Workflow for Entourage 2008 standard version

Entourage 2008 users will be able to do this using Automator and schedule it with iCal to run automatically. Automator comes free with the OS and can be found in the Applications folder. The Automator workflow in this example uses an action that is only available for Entourage 2008 users. The Home & Student 08 version does not come with Automator actions. Entourage 2008 H&S and Entourage 2004 users will need to do this manually. Entourage X only exports as a tab-delimited file. Categories are not saved in this file type.

  1. Open Automator –> select custom workflow
  2. Drag “Export Entourage Contacts” to the workflow pane
  3. Under Where, select destination folder.
  4. Optional: drag “Show Growl Notification”
  5. “Save as” iCal plugin
  6. When the event opens in iCal set the time you want it to run and how often. No need to quit Entourage to run.

I save my file in a folder with this folder action attached: FolderOrgX. This creates a folder by date for each backup. This is useful if you want snapshots. Otherwise, let it overwrite the previous copy.

Folder actions only work on internal drives or from an external that is booted.
Examples of file sizes of contacts saved as .rge files. As you can see they are very small.
900 contacts = 5.1 mb
3,474 contacts= 13.6 mb

Manually Backup Contacts

If you are using Entourage 2004 or if you use Entourage 2008 and just want to do this manually… Select File –> Export as Entourage archive (.rge) file…uncheck all but contacts.

Entourage X users can export as a tab-delimited file. Entourage archive (.rge) files were introduced in Entourage 2004.

Export your contacts as a tab-delimited file

A tab delimited file is a special kind of plain text file with a tab between each column in the text. A tab-delimited file be used by any text application and is cross platform friendly along with being small. Their biggest drawback is they do not export categories which most users rely on for syncing to their cell phones.
Export as tab delimited file:

  • File –> Export –> Select Contacts to a list (tab-delimited text)

You can then import the file into Excel and create a .csv file. Most online services that allow you to import your contacts are looking for a .csv file.
Save As….csv

  1. Open your Excel document and go to the File pull-down menu, then choose Save As….
  2. Change the “Save as type” or “Format” field to read: “CSV (Comma delimited)”.
  3. Enter a name for the document and click Save.
  4. To check the validity of your CSV file, open the new file from a plain-text reading program such TextEdit. Check to make sure there are no extra commas, other than between fields. Depending on what program you’re going to use the CSV file with, you may need to also remove any extra quotation marks or other formatting which Excel may have inserted.

Compare sizes: In my Address Book I have 900 contacts.
Entourage archive (.rge) file = 5.1 MB
Tab-delimited file = 136 KB

Entourage does not export groups

Entourage does not export your groups. If you want to save your groups, be sure each contact is in the Address Book and is assigned a category with the name of the group. To recreate your groups,

  1. Sort by category for that group
  2. Select all
  3. Drag into a new group window
  4. Save and assign the group category to the group

Exporting Entourage contacts as a tab delimited file gets all contacts. If you want to export a specific group as a tab-delimited file, you can export as an Entourage archive (.rge) first.

Export as an .rge file. Select the category for that group and export that category only. THEN create a new Identity in Entourage and import the .rge file. NOW you can export it as a tab delimited file.

Other Options to backup your contacts

Enable Sync Services in Entourage Preferences. This will sync your contacts to the Apple Address Book. The downside to this…if sync gets messed up, the Address Book will also be subject to the same problems as your Entourage Address Book.

Online Options

Plaxo for Mac is a freeware option to keep your contacts in sync between multiple accounts and computers.
Upload your contacts to your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL web account as additional backup.
Use Excel to create a .csv file for importing into your web accounts

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3 comments to Backup Your Contacts

  • Tom

    This is great Diane. Just what I was looking for to make weekly back ups to the server.
    We use goolge calendar in the office. Is it possible to run it from that? Or does run even if you don’t open ical?
    Could you email a reply please.
    Kind regards,

  • You need iCal to schedule it to run. It does not have to be open to run. You do need to set your computer to wake (Energy Saver in System Preferences ) so it can run or it runs the next time the computer is awake.

  • Anonymous

    You need i Cal to schedule it to run. It does not have to be open to run. You do need to set your computer to wake (Energy Saver in System Preferences ) so it can run or it runs the next time the computer is awake.