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How do I back up my e-mails from free online Yahoo Mail and Gmail accounts?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 26, 2010 3:07 AM PST

How do I back up my e-mails from free online Yahoo Mail and Gmail accounts?

Over the past several years I have been depending on free
online Yahoo mail and Gmail accounts for my everyday e-mails.
I've been lucky thus far of not losing anything yet, but I'm
weary about it as friend told me that free email services
aren't trustworthy as anything can go wrong and there are no
recourse if my accounts were suddenly to disappear or somehow
get compromised because they are free.

Now that this has got me really concerned, I would like to
back up all my e-mails from these free online e-mail
accounts, but I really have no clue as to how to go about it.
Can your members help me out and give me some step-by-step
instructions on how I can get this accomplished for both
Yahoo mail and Gmail? I would like to be able to store them
on my computer and retrieve them once I have established a
nonfree online service. I would be most grateful for this

--Submitted by Isabelle W.

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Backing up online email --Submitted by TMSAssoc

Gmail offers these options for backing up data --Submitted by davidwinget

Archiving Yahoo email --Submitted by JamesJ

Methods for backing up free online email --Submitted by caue.rego

POP3 --Submitted by darrenforster99

A lot to say, true/false --Submitted by DADSGETNDOWN

Free e-mail backup --Submitted by RayGauthier

If you have any additional advice, solution, or recommendation for Isabelle, please click on the reply link and submit your answer. Please provide as much details as possible in your answer. Thank you!
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Simple - use a REAL email client

Using Mozilla Thunderbird, I log into my gmail, Yahoo, and other webmail accounts. Since these are all POP3 mail servers, the mail downloads automagically to my local machine. Backing them up is therefore a natural side effect with no additional steps necessary.

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by massadaddy / March 5, 2010 10:03 AM PST

Open 2nd Gmail account and have all Gmails forwarded automatically to 2nd account.

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That's not right
by DADSGETNDOWN / March 5, 2010 10:13 AM PST
In reply to: Easy

That does not save them locally though, this person is leary of leaving them, on gmail and yahoo servers. Because some friend "says" they lost all their emails. Probably had a free account and never used it Happy or just threw a unknowledgeable thought out there.

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The easiest way is to download the messages

If you have outlook you can use it to access your gmail account using IMAP or POP3. If you do not have outlook you can use Thunderbird to download the emails. once downloaded you have a nice backup on your computer. you can then back up your computers email files and everything should be nice and safe. For yahoo you need a yahoo mail Plus account to access it via pop3.

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Back up for email

I'm not sure how everybody else does it but I think an external hard drive with an auto back up would do it. I use Carbonite and I have had to retrieve the back up about a year ago. I think it saved all my email files. A call to their tech department would probably get a definitive answer about the Gmail and Yahoo. It runs every so often, many times a day, looking for new files to back up. Hope it helps

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Use an email client to download the messages to your PC

Use an email client like Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc, etc. They can be configured to download a copy of your messages without deleting them from the server. There are many good free email clients available as well as the built in email clients in the various versions of Windows. You can then backup the mailbox file to other media to keep a history of your emails.

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Saving E-Mails

I just use Thunderbird. It copies everything from the 'Inbox' of my present e-mail server to it's own 'Inbox'. Then I just file them into the appropriate folders.

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Keep it simple!

It goes without saying that you can use Windows to back up any data on Outlook or OE, but there are some web-based ISP's that can't be accessed by either, so the obvious way round the problem is to use a third-party e-mail programme (and that's the CORRECT spelling!!) that will bring all your mail acounts under one umbrella, and give you the ability to back up everything that's on your system.
I've been using Incredimail free edition for over six years now, and its backup/migration facility works very well indeed; however some folks have the idea that it's over-heavy on resources and non-secure. Frankly, that's utter rubbish; just enter your various account details on the setup prompt and you're done!

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Programme or Program - Spelling
by billmcpherson / February 27, 2010 4:35 AM PST
In reply to: Keep it simple!

The original English word was Program, then when it was considered "Classy" to speak French a lot of words wrere Frenchified (my own special word). America was settled by Old English people who would not have been caught up in that Frenchy nonsense.
So Program originally, Programme to show off and curry favour with the French but always Program in America.
But there is no "correct" spelling as English is in a constant state of flux with new words added and old words being unused.
How many Pedants does it take to change a light bulb ?
Is that Screw or Bayonet fitting ?
Cheers, Bill

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really now
by larrance / February 27, 2010 10:54 AM PST

The country was 'settled' by people from many backgrounds, and they spoke many languages. Though English dominates, it has taken on an American form that reflects the many tongues that came here. How you may or may not spell program can reflect the origins of the particular dialect of American English you speak. Incidentally, certain parts of the country were pretty 'settled' before the English speakers showed up. Way out west we have all sorts of place names that reflect the original inhabitants. Perhaps the originator of the thread has the same in his or her area? Having said all that, I do bristle at times when Starbucks invents yet another hard to pronounce Italian sounding word. Seems to reek of pretense, when all I want is some coffee.

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Absolutely Correct, Bill!
by kkanalz / March 5, 2010 6:46 PM PST

Amen! The Brits also messed up "center" and many others. Who carries a "torch" when it's dark? Maybe some natives in the Amazon rain forest (when it isn't raining) or in the African jungles.


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You'd better be British...
by Razzl / February 28, 2010 10:03 PM PST
In reply to: Keep it simple!
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Not so fast
by DADSGETNDOWN / March 1, 2010 11:39 AM PST

You should do more research, at better places.
They are the same thing, We're not Greek or British anymore Toto.
PotAtoe, Pototoe. Tomato, tomoto.

Program is correct here in the .U.S.A.
Next there are also Nouns and Verbs with or with out objects.
You could say it depends on how you use it but even at that program still is good to use.
Can I have a Program for that show ?
I am going to Program that Chip.
I am running a Program on the computer.
I am going to Skate in the Short Program.
If you want to use Programme go ahead we know what you mean Happy

If you look up programme at nothing matches, look up Program there are matches.

A female when drinking usually sticks out pinky, a male not so much.
I will have a spot of tea, a spot is like a stain here...

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by rcummins61 / March 6, 2010 11:44 PM PST
In reply to: Not so fast

So a 'spotlight' is a 'stainlight'?

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by DADSGETNDOWN / March 7, 2010 10:43 AM PST
In reply to: Huh?

Nothing like going off the deep end, and taking something Way out of context.
Maybe I should have used "drop", and for you, especially knowing there would have been one of you lurking.
But then you would have said "spotlight" is a "droplight ?"
At least it would have been a little more closely related and would have made a little more sense.

Yeah, my fault...

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Backing Up Online E-mail

Get yourself Simply, to back e-mails up on your computer, get an e-mail client (ie: Windows Live Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, etc...) and have it sync to your e-mail accounts using IMAP. In this way, you will have a copy both on your computer and 'in the cloud'. To create an additional backup, refer to the help files of the e-mail client you chose.

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A lot to say, true/false

This is loaded, but very simple if you do not trust them.
I have had Yahoo, Hotmail, Aol, Lycos, Excite, accounts for over 10 years and Gmail since it came out, I have never heard any problems you say, they are backed up and backed up constantly to several different servers in case of a problem, they scan your emails for virii and malware and such, so on one hand your "untrustworthy" statements bothers me and makes me laugh. BUT since "it is not in your hands" that makes you weary. So the only way to save them for your self is to use an Email Client ( a local (installed on your computer) email program like Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird or similar) What happens though is good and bad, they automatically download those emails to your computer if something is infected it may infect your computer, there are plenty of settings though, some you can download a copy leaving copies on the free email or not and stuff like that, if your computer is infected it can infect those emails and or your email client, and another possibility is you can lose all your emails on your computer if you get infected and the computer dies, why not leave them out there with TRUSTWORTHY places like those mentioned where they are fairly safe. Again you can do both, Have copies.

I do not suggest Firefox Addon's or extensions those DO have problems and you might lose ALL your emails the very first time you try to connect to yahoo or gmail or hotmail. Make sure you use a separate program/client.

The reason people stopped using email clients like Outlook and Express and stuff is because emails are downloaded to your computer, so they then had to try and make them safer by adding settings that some times work sometimes don't. Like previewing.

Millions and Billions of people use and have been using Free Online Email day in day out year after year.
If you want FULL POWER, get a client download "copies" to your computer hopefully a external drive in case your computer ever fails or burn them to CD or DVD and make copies of them too.....

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forward to an ISP account with a local client

I forward all my gmail mail to my ISP email account automatically. I do it because I like my email client better than the gmail client (well I did til they got rid of Outlook Express), but I want a gmail address for many purposes. Yes, its duplication but isn't that what backups are all about? I just have to be conscious about doing REPLYs from the right account if it matters.

But if you only use gmail, than the PC's local email client (OE, Outlook, Tbird, Windows Mail...) is a perfect solution for backups.

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Gmail backups

Both Gmail and Yahoo have help information for backing up mail. Gmail says this :-

"Backing up your mail with POP
Here's how to download a copy of every message* in Gmail to an email client:

1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click Settings at the top of any Gmail page, and open the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
3. Select Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded).
4. Click Save Changes.
5. Open the mail client you've configured for Gmail, and check for new messages.

Gmail messages are downloaded in batches, so it may take time for everything to appear in your mail client.

* Messages in Spam and Trash aren't downloaded unless you move them to your inbox or All Mail. *"

You should have access to one of the POP accounts listed in Help so downloading your mail to your PC should be easy. Where you store it may be on a USB drive or similar.
I doubt you need to though as these systems have extensive backup systems of their own.

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to back up Yahoo mail and GMail

For Yahoo try YPOPs! This piece of freeware will allow pop3 access to Yahoo mail. Follow the directions and use Outlook Express or Windows Mail to recieve this mail and then back it up conventionally. For GMail backup there is a piece of freeware called Gmail Backup which can be downloaded here...
This software will backup all your gmail messages for you

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download Yahoo Mail and Gmail

using any email client that you are comfortable with, connect to the service using IMAP. synchronize the client. if you are like me (and have 20K messages) it can take a while. when complete, simply export the stores (folders) to any media.

hotmail is a little different. I had to use a windows based "live" client. It built a mail store that Outlook Express mounted ~ so I used that as an intermediate for export.

hope this is helpful!


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backing up gmail mail - I use Outlook Express

I connect to gmail using outlook express.

I can move my mail from gmail folders to local folders with simple
drag and drop. I don't know that there is any reason you can't back
up your emails the same way.

I can't speak for yahoo mail.


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Microsoft Outlook is the easy answer.

Use Outlook to download the messages to your computer. Outlook gives you a choice that allows you to copy them without deleting them from the original site. That should provide you with two copies of the emails in totally separate locations.

Once you have the messages in Outlook, you also can save them in a format that allows you to export them or save them as a file on a removable disc. That would give you a third copy.

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How I back up my Yahoo email

I do three things.

First, I have the Yahoo Plus which costs $20 a year and my email won't expire if I can't get to it for a month.

Second, I have a Hotmail account that I forward everything to that I think I might someday care about. It's also a $20 a year account. That gives me two places, which is fairly safe.

Third, the really important stuff I also forward to my ISP account and back it up. There aren't many things important enough to bother with this but there are a few things.


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Windows Live Works Well for Me

Hi Isabelle - I have a great number of email accounts for various reasons, and I set up email for many of my customers. I used to be a big fan of Mozilla Thunderbird, and then Microsoft came along with a FREE and easy to use email system called Windows Live.

The thing I like about it is that regardless of how many email accounts you have online, offline, or otherwise, in most cases you can seamlessly integrate them into your Windows Live system.

Setting up any email management system can be somewhat trying, but I've included a link for you that describes pretty thoroughly how Windows Live can be set up with the least amount of headaches.

This link provided by Windows Live takes you step by step in integrating your existing email accounts online. And if you already have a different email program you're using, no problem. When you set up Windows Live Mail, it automatically recognizes them and allows you to import the old messages into your new email management system.

You should note that Yahoo requires you to use Email Plus, at a cost of $19.95 annually to use a POP3 account so you can save your email on your computer as well as their server. Yahoo's email plus comes with some other benefits you can examine here:

I couldn't be more pleased with Windows Live. It allows me to check all of my email from all sources at once (If I choose to), and I can check it from any computer just by logging on to Windows Live online. It's a handy feature that provides lots of convenience, saves time, and assures me that all of my email is not only always available, but always backed up.

Windows Live Mail also incorporates other popular features like Calendars with task management, a very useful Contact Manager, RSS Feeds and Newsgroups. I apologize if this sounds like a commercial for this product but the features included along with the fact that it's all free seems to good to pass up.

Hope this helps Isabelle. Good Luck.

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All of them have that too
by DADSGETNDOWN / February 26, 2010 11:16 AM PST

All of the top free online emails have all that, you can check, view, read, reply etc etc email from other free services, they all have calendars, tasks, schedulers and reminders and such.
So that you can do all your emails, from various emails IE: log into Yahoo, and deal with Hotmail, yahoo, gmail aol, all at once from one website...

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Windows Live Mail is More Seamless
by charleswsheets / February 26, 2010 7:06 PM PST

It's true that other competitors have similar products. No argument. But it hasn't been my experience that they are nearly as seamless as the Windows Live Mail.

And you don't have to log on to anything if you're using your own computer. You simply open Windows Live mail and it's there.

Thanks for your input. I'll check out some of the others you've mentioned. Except for AOL. It may be easy and useful for the user, but it causes more system problems than any other program I'm aware of.

Best Regards

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Thunderbird comment
by cecilt22 / March 5, 2010 11:53 PM PST

Mozilla Thunderbird is still a free download and easy to use. Windows Live requires that you need to be connected to the internet to access features like your Address Book. I wouldn't want friends and family info on the internet.

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This is dated. You can work offline!
by RD3.1 / March 12, 2010 6:15 AM PST
In reply to: Thunderbird comment

Windows Live on a Vista or Windows 7 (where it is free) synch the emails, contacts, deleted items, saved emails, and calendar items seamlessly! You log on to a second PC or the Live web site and all folders are synched!

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by DADSGETNDOWN / March 12, 2010 10:13 AM PST

Are you saying that,
(You log on to a second PC or the Live web site and all folders are synched!)

IS Working offline ?

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