Back up and restore your Outlook Express data quickly and easily

Seem Software developed Express Assist 2.2 to fill some perceived gaps in Microsoft Outlook Express' functionality. Express Assist works with your email folders, attachments, newsgroup folders, and address book files to back up, copy, and restore data in Outlook Express. The product also compresses the data while backing it up, using the industry-standard Zip format.

Express Assist's setup program is flexible and easy to use. The program places two icons on your desktop: Express Assist and Express Assist Fast Backup. After you've used Express Assist at least once to back up your Outlook Express folders, you can use the Fast Backup icon to save time. This shortcut will simply reuse the settings from your most recent backup job. In this respect, Fast Backup is similar to your telephone's redial button.

Express Assist presents a simple, uncluttered user interface (UI) with two buttons: Make a Backup/Archive and Restore/Copy Folders. When you click Make a Backup/Archive, Express Assist locates all Outlook Express mail folders. In my case, Express Assist found 54 folders, one news account, and 17,278KB of data, and also provided an estimated archive size, as Screen 1 shows. As soon as the wizard completes its automatic discovery process, you can select or deselect each listed item.

After the Make a Backup/Archive wizard completed, I opened the Zip file through WinZip and found several individually backed-up .mbx and .nch files, as well as my .wab file. At that point, I tested the integrity of the data by restoring it to another user profile I created on my Windows NT Workstation 4.0 laptop.

The Restore/Copy Folders wizard began with a choice of two options. I could restore either Selected Folders or All Folders. I chose All Folders. The wizard proceeded without a hitch. Within a minute, the software copied my 54 individual Outlook Express folders, newsgroup settings, and address book files into the Outlook Express data stored on the newly created NT Workstation 4.0 user profile.

I tested the Make a Backup/Archive and Restore/Copy Folders a second time. This time, I used the Fast Backup icon to perform my backup job, using the settings I supplied on the initial run. Once again, all folders, newsgroups, and the address book files copied over to the other user profile flawlessly.

The 20-page hard copy documentation accompanying the product was not useful, and its presentation was not professional. The company devoted roughly half of the manual to sales pitches, ordering details, and licensing information. Fortunately, you can find additional help in the software's online assistance, which you access through the drop-down Help menu. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Express Assist's user-friendliness. I didn't touch the manual or the online Help during the entire backup and restore procedure, because I found both wizards to be highly intuitive and easy to use.

Express Assist is a valuable, easy-to-use utility program for users who rely heavily on Outlook Express for day-to-day communication. Although you can replicate most of its functions by creating batch files and integrating WinZip commands, Express Assist does an excellent job of compiling several related functions in a clean, affordable package. At $29.95, Express Assist is a solid value that pays for itself in increased Outlook Express data portability and protection.

Express Assist 2.2
Contact: Seem Software * 877-733-6669
Web: http://www.seemdirect.com
Price: $29.95
System Requirements: Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 9x, Microsoft Outlook Express