Getting Outlook contacts from savefiles


I am currently working as a private support technician and today someone walked in with a Windows 10 PC that would not boot. After trying to repair Windows we decided to make a Backup from the whole hard drive and reinstall Windows. We reinstalled all his programs. Also Office. We set up the IMAP and SMTP Servers correctly but we are not sure if he was using Pop3 or IMAP we decided on setting up IMAP now. Everything fine. Now he has called us to complain that all his contacts are missing. So I went through the backup but can’t find any contacts. Where does Outlook safe contacts?

I tried
C:\Users\User\Contacts (Some contacts but not all, the customer says he saved the contacts once manually there to back-up.)

Is are there any other location they could be?

Thanks for reading

Contacts can also be stored in a PST file. Look in
C:\users\<username>\Documents\Outlook Files

And use the import option to see if the PST contains any


I could only find a .ost file. can I somehow work with this? its around 1GB so I suppose the mails are also stored within. can I somehow import this file into Outlook?

An OST is just an offline cache used with Exchange and IMAP accounts. This means his email was likely configured as IMAP before reinstalling Windows. There shouldn’t be anything inside the OST that isn’t already on the server. You can convert the OST to a PST and try, but I’m doubtful it will have his contacts. OSTs are usually only useful for exporting content that was accidentally deleted from the server.

Edit: Have you logged into his webmail and looked for contacts there? Is it possible Outlook just isn’t syncing contacts from his IMAP account?
Also ask him exactly how he accessed his contacts in Outlook. Was he opening his address book and selecting a contact from a list? Or did he just open a new email and use the auto-complete option when typing an address into the TO: field. I’ve had users who thought the autocomplete feature meant the contact was actually stored somewhere.


Tried Webmail and I think We struck gold. I have to ask him tomorrow but thanks you for all these hints I learned a lot.

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Outlook stores stuff in an .nk2 file, where it autocompletes people you previously have emailed


I’ve seen this too, people assume that if Outlook autocompletes their contact is saved but it isn’t, it’s just in an autocomplete database. NirSoft NK2View was/is a free utility to read these.