Your computer’s email archive probably holds more important information than any other program on your computer. From passwords to business documents to family photos, it is essential that you backup your email archive on a regular basis. I know that I would literally have a heart attack if I lost my important e-mail archives where all my precious information is stored.
How to backup your email archive depends on which email program you use. We’ll cover Microsoft Outlook and Google Mail (GMail) in this post.
How To Backup Your Outlook Email Archive
If you use Microsoft Exchange, you should contact your server administrator for information about backing up your email archive as there is a special procedure for server-based backups. Plus, if your server administrator makes regular backups, there’s nothing you need to do.
Users with a personal copy of Microsoft Outlook have several backup options. The easiest and cheapest way to backup your email archive is with Microsoft’s Personal Folders Backup for Outlook, a free download for all licensed copies of Outlook. Personal Folders Backup backs up your Outlook .pst files on a regular basis.
Backup Your Outlook Email Archive
1. To download a free copy of Personal Folders Backup go to Microsoft.com and search for “Personal Folders Backup.” You can also click here.
2. Download and run the installer, then restart Outlook.
3. In the restarted Outlook, go to the File menu and click Backup.
4. You can choose which .pst files to backup using the Options menu.
5. On the Options menu, as shown below, you can also ask Outlook to remind you to backup on a schedule you set. I highly recommend that you set this option.
6. Press on the Browse button to choose a location to save your email archive backup.
7. After you have filled in your options, press Ok.
8. Now you will see the Outlook Personal Folders Backup dialog box. Now you can backup by pressing the Save Backup button.
You also want to make sure you backup to something besides your main drive, so the failure of your main drive doesn’t wipe out both your original and backup email archive. I would recommend you backup your computer files and email archives to an external hard drive or usb drive. Here is an article about Easy secure backup. It gives you a number of choices on how and where to backup your files.
Backup Outlook’s Email Archive To A Remote Server
Many of the best online backup tools automatically backup your Outlook email archive for you. They also store your email archive on a remote server so you don’t need to fuss with multiple drives in your home or office in order to protect your data from theft, fire, and natural disasters.
One of the easiest online email archive tools to use is Mozy. You can start with a free Mozy account which offers up to 2 GB of backup. For $5.99 a month, you can backup 50 GB, and for just $4.00 more you can backup 125 GB a month—which should be more than enough for even the most avid email user. (According to Mozy’s website, 125 GB holds “15,625,000 text emails.”) Check out Mozy Backup 2GB Free or plans starting out at $5.99/mo.
One of Mozy’s key features is that it backs up files every time they change. It even backs up files as you use them. So, if you have a fast enough Internet connection, you’ll never lose even a single email if your computer suddenly crashes.
To use Mozy, go to Mozy.com and sign up for the free trial. Download the software for your computer—Windows and Mac OS X are both supported—and install the software. Then run Mozy and tell it to backup your Outlook .pst email archive. To find your .pst file, use the following instructions:
- On Windows Vista and Windows 7, go to
C:UsersYourUserAppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlookand select all of the files ending in .pst for backup in Mozy. Replace YourUser with your user name—for example, “Harding”.
- On Windows XP, go to
C:Documents and SettingsYourUserLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlookand select all of the files ending in .pst for backup on Mozy. Replace YourUser with your user name—for example, “Harding”.
Note: you should be able to see these files in Mozy, but they may be hidden in Windows Explorer. You can go to the View menu in Windows Explorer and tell it to Show Hidden Files.
After you add the .pst files to Mozy, it may take a long time to make your first backup, but every backup after that should be nearly instantaneous because Mozy will only transmit changes to your email archive to its backup server.
See more Outlook articles full of great tips and tricks!
How To Backup You GMail Email Archive To Your Own Computer
Google seems perfect, but they use computers and software the same as everyone else, and we’re all aware how risky it is to trust your important data to just one computer or one piece of software. But you don’t just need to worry about a problem at Google deleting all of your email—you also need to worry about hackers and human error.
Hackers know many people keep copies of some of their passwords in their Google email account, so they spend a lot of time trying to break into people’s email accounts—and they succeed dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of times a day. After the hackers get the passwords to your PayPal and other financial accounts, they’ll often delete all of your email to make it harder for you to fight back until they’ve had time to disappear. You could end up with no money and no email.
You also need to worry about your own mistakes. Even though GMail offers you a huge amount of email storage, it’s all too easy to delete an email that you later realize was important. Another risk is that you share your GMail password with someone you trust and when you have a falling out, that person deletes all of your email.
Luckily backing up your GMail account is easy, although it will take some time. You need two things, an email client like Outlook or Outlook Express and to enable downloading your email archive in GMail. First, go to your GMail Settings screen and click the Forwarding tab. Then select Enable POP For All Mail (Even Mail That’s Already Been Downloaded) and click Save Changes.
Then open your favorite local email client. If you don’t have a favorite, we suggest the free Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird. The specific instructions for each email client are slightly different, but they all follow the same basic outline: Add a new account, enter your GMail address, choose POP or POP3 for your incoming email and enter the following location (note: no http:// or www): pop.gmail.com. For outgoing email, you can enter smtp.gmail.com. At some point before downloading starts, you will be prompted for your GMail password, enter it and your email client will start downloading your email archive.
To make sure you keep an updated copy of your GMail email archive, we suggest that you open your email client at least once a week to download the latest email.
David A. Harding began using Linux in 2001 and quickly became a Linux Professional Institute certified system administrator. His articles have appeared in over a dozen publications and he has given over 50 presentations about Linux—including two Software Freedom Day keynotes. Dave always loves to hear from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org. An automated job updates his email archive on two computers every night.
If you have any tips about how you backup your email archive and keep it safe, please add a comment below.