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How do I back up my email messages?

Filed in Domain & Email

Please note that Aarcade custom domain and email services are only available with an Aarcade Domain & Email Plan.

It is not necessary to regularly back up your e-mail, because your messages are stored on servers in multiple locations as well as your local hard drive (if you have set up your email desktop application using IMAP protocol). However you may wish to manually back up from time to time for additional protection against data loss or an accidental message deletion. This procedure is of particular importance if,

  1. Aarcade Support is moving your server and has asked you specifically to ensure that your email is backed up
  2. You have exceeded your mailbox storage limit and need to delete email messages to free up storage space

Are You Using POP?

If you have been managing your email via a desktop application and your account access protocol is POP, then all the email messages available in your desktop application are already stored (i.e. backed up) on your computer and you do not need to carry out any further steps. For more information about POP, please refer to the support article What is the difference between POP and IMAP, and which one should I use?.

If you are making changes to your email system, you should create local folders in your email application and copy or move the messages in your Inbox, Sent and Draft to these folders to be sure that you do not lose any messages during your changes.

Do You Have An Automated Back Up System?

If you have been managing your email via a desktop application and you have an automated back up system that is currently activated, e.g. Apple Time Machine, then copies of all the email messages available in your desktop application are already being backed up to a local hard drive on a regular basis, and you do not need to carry out any further steps.

Choose Your Desktop Application

To back up your email messages you will need an e-mail desktop application, also known as an email client or email reader. If you do not currently manage your email via a desktop application, such as Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, or Windows Outlook, please refer to the support article Which desktop application should I use to read and manage my email? before proceeding to the next step.

Set Up Your Email Account Access

If you have not already configured your desktop email application to access your email account, please refer to the support article How do I access my e-mail with a desktop application? (for pre-Dec 2012 - Google-powered email) before proceeding to the next step.

The Back Up Process

  1. Create a back up folder system within your desktop email application to copy your email messages to. Ensure that the folders are located on your local hard drive (not on the remote email server) and name them the same as the storage sections of email messages you need to back up, e.g. “Inbox”, “Sent”, “Draft”, etc.
  2. Select all email messages in each section (or mailbox) of your email application, e.g. select all email messages in your Inbox, and copy (not move) them to the corresponding folder you created in step one, e.g. the “Inbox” folder you created on your local hard drive. Allow time for the copy to complete, this may take a while depending upon the amount and size of email messages you are copying.
  3. Repeat step 2 for each storage section of your email application, e.g. “Sent”, “Draft”, any folders you have created on your email server, etc.
  4. Check all of the back up folders to ensure that email messages have been successfully copied to them.
  5. You now have a copy of all email messages on your hard drive. If you need to clear storage space for your inbox, you can now safely delete older messages and/or folders from your email server and the message copies you created in the above steps will remain available on your local hard drive.

1. Create a master back up folder, ensuring the location is “On My Mac” – in other words, the folder is created on your local hard drive. Note that a folder is called a “Mailbox” in Apple Mail.

Adding A New Mail Box In Apple Mail

Click the "+" symbol in the bottom left corner of your Mail application window and select "New Mailbox..."

New Mailbox On My Mac

Ensure the new mailbox location Is "On My Mac"

New Mailbox Sub-Folder

Add sub-folder Mailboxes by right clicking (or control + clicking) on the back up folder and selecting "New Mailbox..."

Apple Mail Back Up Folders

Repeat the previous step to add sub-folders for each section of email messages to be backed up

2. Select all email messages in each section (or mailbox) of your email application and copy (not move) them to the corresponding back up folder. The below example shows Mail with multiple accounts; so the Inbox, Sent and Draft Mailboxes can be expanded to select only the account you are backing up (“Tim – Aarfie” in this example). If you do not have multiple accounts, or you are backing up all of your managed accounts to one folder, you would simply click the top level Inbox, Sent or Draft Mailbox.

Selecting All Sent Messages in Apple Mail

Selecting all Sent email messages by clicking the Sent mailbox and typing command + A or selecting "Select All" from the "Edit" main menu

Copy Email Messages To Back Up

Copy email messages to the corresponding back up folder by right clicking (or control + clicking) the selected messages and using the "Copy To" drop down menu

3. Repeat step 2 for all server Mailboxes, i.e Inbox, Sent, Draft and any folders created on the email server.

Copying All IMAP Folders To My Mac

All email server folders can be copied at once by 1. selecting the first top level folder ("Customers" in the above example), then holding down the command key while clicking the remaining top level folders 2. clicking and dragging the selected folders to your corresponding back up folder

4. Check your back up folders, i.e. select and view contents, to ensure that email messages have been successfully copied to them. Be patient when copying large folders, it may take a while for the copied folders to appear.

1. Create a master back up folder, ensuring it is a sub-folder of “Local Folders” – in other words, the folder is created on your local hard drive.

Adding A New Local Folder In Mozilla Thunderbird

Right click on "Local Folders" and select "New Folder..."

New Folder on Mozilla Thunderbird

Ensure the new folder is a sub-folder of "Local Folders"

New Subfolder In Mozilla Thunderbird

Add sub-folders by right clicking on the back up folder and selecting "New Subfolder..."

Mozilla Thunderbird Back Up Folders

Repeat the previous step to add sub-folders for each section of email messages to be backed up

2. Select all email messages in each section (or folder) of your email account and copy (not move) them to the corresponding back up folder.

Selecting All Inbox Messages in Mozilla Thunderbird

Selecting all Inbox email messages by clicking the Inbox and typing command + A or selecting "Select All" from the "Edit" main menu

Copy Email Messages To Back Up

Copy email messages to the corresponding back up folder by right clicking the selected messages and using the "Copy To" drop down menu

3. Repeat step 2 for all account folders, i.e Inbox, Sent, Draft and any other folders on the email server.

4. Check your back up folders, i.e. select and view contents, to ensure that email messages have been successfully copied to them. Be patient when copying large folders, it may take a while for the copied folders to appear.

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