Migrating from #WinXP Can Be Painful – #OutlookExpress

I have been working off and on for the past week installing a new desktop for a client. The new desktop replaces an older small form-factor HP desktop running Windows XP. After seeing enough “unsupported” messages from applications like Microsoft Security Essentials, the time was right to bite the bullet. The user previously stored and managed their email using Outlook Express. Using an installed email client for non-corporate users is a bit outdated, but there are some valid reasons for having important emails stored locally rather than in the cloud and managing email through a web browser. You don’t need an internet connection to get to archived messages and you don’t really have to worry about mailbox limits.

Since Outlook Express is no longer available or supported, I needed to migrate to a new email application for the desktop. Sticking with the Microsoft theme, I went with Outlook 2013 that coincided with the Office license that was purchased. Getting the client to get used to Outlook 2013 will take some training. I started with some free videos provided by Microsoft. I captured all of the Outlook Express .dbx files from the hidden user profile directory (C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{12345678-1234-ABCD-EFGH-1234567890AB}\Microsoft\Outlook Express) and was ready to use the import feature in Outlook. It was then when I didn’t see that the option was available. After much floundering and rummaging through the Office Ribbon, I resorted to Google to find that the 64-bit version of Outlook does not support importing Outlook Express address books or messages. Why the 32-bit version does work, I haven’t the foggiest.

In order to solve this, I installed an old version of Outlook on the old Windows XP machine, imported the Outlook Express .dbx files into a blank .pst Outlook data file. I then was able to use the import feature from Outlook 2013 to import the old .pst file. After already removing the old desktop from the client’s location, a few remote assistance tools and cloud utilities helped move the process along. I used Team Viewer to remotely connect and control the client’s desktop and used Google Drive to move the .pst from the old desktop to the new desktop. Long gone are the days of what I like to call the “SneakerNet”, the process of moving files between machines by floppy disk (or CD, DVD, Zip Disk, or USB).

In the end, all the emails are in Outlook 2013, but not without a couple extra hours worth of work. My advise continues to be to not upgrade too early and risk getting all the glitches and bugs. On the other hand, don’t wait too long. You’ll end up having to find duct tape ways of migrating data between applications and risk real desupport all together.

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