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How to backup or download emails from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail (Outlook.com), Outlook, Thunderbird, and more [Guide]

Email is a mainstay in the lives of many people. I’d venture to say many people who feel naked if they ever lost access to their email accounts and/or their emails. So a question often asked is: how do I backup or download my emails? This guide answers that question. More specifically, we will show you how to backup/download (and restore) emails for any email account on any email service — including Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail (Outlook.com), Outlook, Thunderbird, and Microsoft Exchange.


Before we begin, please understand that the method to backup/download (and restore) emails works with any email service that provides IMAP or POP3 access. This includes popular email provides like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail/Outlook.com and less popular email provides like NetZero, Comcast, Earthlink, etc. Any email service that gives you access to IMAP or POP3 can be backed up by following the instructions we provide in this guide.

The best part? The method we are about to show you backs up/downloads emails and attachments.

Also please note: for the purposes of this guide, we will be using a program called MailStore Home [1]. MailStore Home is a free-for-non-commercial use program that allows users to easily backup/download (and restore) emails. The catch to MailStore Home is it is free for non-commercial use only; if you want to use MailStore Home to backup a commercial/business email, you need to purchase the business version MailStore Server for US$190. MailStore Home/Server is a Windows program (Windows XP SP3, Vista, Win7, and Win8); as such, you need a Windows computer to be able to backup/download (and restore) emails by following the instructions provided in this guide.

That said, let’s begin.

[NOTE: If you use two-factor authentication, you will need to disable it before proceeding further.]


To backup or download emails from any email service, do the following:

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If your email service settings are not automatically found, MailStore will ask you to manually enter the IMAP, POP3, Microsoft Exchange settings:

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At this point you need to find out if your web email service supports IMAP, POP3, or Microsoft Exchange. This can typically be done by Googling or asking support of your email service. Once you have the relevant information, enter it into MailStore by selecting the proper Server Type (IMAP, POP3, or Microsoft Exchange) and Encryption (TLS or SSL), and typying in the Server Name (e.g. pop3.live.com with SSL for Outlook.com and Hotmail users); click OK when done:

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You will now need to wait while MailStore tests the settings you entered. If the settings are not accurate you will be given an error and told to try again. If they are accurate and you used IMAP, you will be told your email is now ready to be archived:

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If the settings are accurate and you used POP3, you will be told only your main inbox can be archived and asked to continue (click Yes)…

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…and then you will be told you are ready to start backing up:

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…and wait while MailStore backs up your emails:

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Repeat these steps for all email accounts you want to backup/download. You can backup/download emails from an unlimited amount of emails accounts with MailStore.


Now that you have setup MailStore to backup/download your emails, you may be wondering if it is possible to set MailStore to automatically backup/download your emails. It is possible. To setup your emails to automatically backup/download, do the following:

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Depending on which one you pick, you will have to further input the date/time or similar settings; click Next when ready:

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Repeat these steps for whatever emails you want to automatically backup/download.


Yes, you can actually. More specially, there are three things you can do — restore/export emails, view emails, and search all your backups for specific emails.

Viewing emails is as easy as opening MailStore, going to My Archive -> Your Email Account -> Inbox and clicking on the emails you want to view:

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While viewing emails, you can download attachments, print individual emails, export/save individual emails as .MSG or .EML file, see email headers, delete the email, and search the email.

If you want to export/restore emails, it is as easy as right-clicking the email account you want to backup, selecting how you want to backup (IMAP, SMTP, Exchange, etc.), and following on-screen instructions (you will need to know the relevant information for your restore location, such as IMAP or SMTP settings — Google for it, if you don’t know):

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If you want to search for a specific email in your backed up emails, this can be done easily via the Search E-mail feature:

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This is one of the best and easiest ways to backup/download emails, regardless of what email service you use. Enjoy and feel free to leave feedback and/or ask for help in the comments [31] below!