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Protecting your electronic data before leaving an employer

By Edited Dec 24, 2013 0 0

While in full time employment, we accumulate a lot of data, which is not proprietary information of the company's.

For example:

  • Your contacts lists will typically have your personal and old (pre this employer) contacts
  • Appointments in you outlook calendar
  • Emails that are personal
  • Favourite websites
  • Then there are all the Word documents and other information you have collected


Having just been through this transition, I have the following tips to help collect this data. I was employed with a company for 3 years and all of my contacts I had prior to the company were merged into my new email account on an MS Exchange server.

Now the thing to be aware of with an exchange server is the data is replicated somewhere in your company's servers and can be deleted so next time you log on, a synchronisation occurs and you local copy is also erased. To avoid this occurring,

I would do the following before submitting your resignation.
The following assumes you are using Outlook as you email client

  1. Create a location to copy your data to
    Outlook Data files

    In Outlook select tools->account settings->data files tab
    Click Add and create a new .pst folder, noting its locations, which could be a USB key if you desire.

    Name the folder something logical that you will recognise in the Outlook files list. "My Data" for example.

    Close the Account Settings box
  2. In the main screen of Outlook (2007 is the version I am working from) at the bottom left
    Outlook Folders
    click the yellow folder Icon to show your folder list.

    The new data folder you just created should be at the bottom of this list.

    Now it is just a case of dragging folders from the main account, which should be at the top of the list, to the new folder at the bottom.
    If you want to leave a copy in place in the original folder, hold the control key before you drop into the new folder. You will get a + symbol on the icon to signify you are making a copy.
  3. Repeat this for contacts, calendar and notes.
  4. For emails unless you want to copy every email currently in your in box, is a little more time consuming

    In your new data file (the bottom one) right click and create a folder called
    emails or similar name.
    For every email you want to copy, drag it from your email account to this folder.
    You can use the control key to select multiple emails by clicking on them while holding the control key.
  5. To backup your website favorites
    On the start menu, type RUN %USERPROFILE%

    This should open Windows Explorer showing all your personal folders.
    Locate the one called favorites and drag it to your USB key to make a copy.
    Do the same for any other files in "My Documents", "My Music, "My Downloads" and others you may need.
  6. If in step 1 you did not make the folder on a USB key or removeable drive, make sure you copy the entire folder across.
  7. On your new PC, in Outlook you can  select tools->account settings->data files tab and open folder to see all the Outlook data you backed up.

Good luck with you new career.
For me it was a move to spend time with my young family by establishing an online business providing advice on video surveillance design, which allows me to work from home.


It is illegal in most companies to take the intellectual property of the company. This basically means any contact made while at the company, price lists, non public documents etcetera.
Ensure if you are taking information, that it is legally yours to take.
I would recommend not deleting non personal information from your work PC as this will be viewed as malice.  



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