Backup your emails!

In the wake of the news that a Gmail bug has accidentally reset about 15000 user’s data, you may have thought of backing it up somewhere. Here’s a guide, which can give you some pointers in the subject.


If you have a large hard drive, backing it up on your PC itself is a good idea. One big disadvantage of doing this is that if your mailbox is huge in size, it will take hell lot of time to download. And if you hard drive fails, everything local will be lost. The advantage is that you can get access to and refer to all your old mails, even if you are not connected to the internet.  Lets take a look on the most used e-mail clients – Thunderbird and Outlook.

1. Thunderbird.

This is my favorite email client. It works on all systems (Windows/Linux/Mac) and is totally free. Setting it up is kid’s play, since the version 3.0. All you need to get started is your name, email address and password. Thunderbird will check their database for the right settings. If you need to set up the client manually, you have one more freedom – the freedom to decide the protocol you need to connect to Gmail.

If you solely want a backup of your emails and nothing more, then POP is your protocol. It’s strictly read only communication to your email. If you’d like two-way communication (sync), then IMAP is what you want. Anything you perform in your email client will directly affect your Gmail account.

For additional help, including step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting, checkout Gmail’s help section for POP and IMAP(links below).

Thunderbird download
POP Support in gmail
IMAP Support in gmail

2. Outlook:

Microsoft outlook is not a free software, but configuring it for gmail is easy. One more extra limitation is that it works only on windows.


1. Free option – Use windows live account.

Windows Live (Hotmail) may be a “koothara”* service, but it’s useful when it comes to a Gmail (or any other email) backup. It’s free to sign up, and is super easy to set up, because Hotmail team really believe you want to transfer your existing emails to them!

Just sign up for a Hotmail account (if you haven’t already did), then go to TrueSwitch, which is Hotmail’s web interface for transferring over all of your existing Gmail emails. TrueSwitch is a third-party service which enables transfer of data. It’s paid, but in this case, the service is already enabled for you, as windows live has already paid for its customers. Enter in your Gmail address and password, along with your new Hotmail address and password, and TrueSwitch will copy all of your mails from Gmail to Hotmail.

Once you’ve transferred all of your emails, to keep the accounts synced, you’ll need to set up email forwarding in Gmail. This can be done by going to

Mail Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Add a forwarding address.

Add your new hotmail address as the forwarding address.

*A Malayalam word which could be used as ‘of no use’, ‘crappy’ etc

Trueswitch portal for Windows live
Windows Live mail Signup

2. Paid options

If you’re worried about the security, and ready to spend some bucks, you may go with a paid backup service. One choice is BackupMyMail. It might take a while for them to pull all of your past emails from Gmail’s servers, but once they do, you have a great backup archive for safe keeping, which will update regularly.

Link: BackupMyMail

If you have only less data in your Gmail, you can go for a free backup plan from Backupify. If you need more, then you may need to buy a subscription there also.

Link: Backupify