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How Should You Backup Your Emails?

It’s easier to remember to backup data like documents, photos, and videos. You might forget, however, to backup your emails. These often contain important discussions – when decisions where made, who was involved, the time and date, and all the attachments.

While many companies are starting to rely less on emails in favour of software like Slack and Teams, email still has a huge place in the corporate world and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

In business, you shouldn’t be expected to backup your own emails. The IT department should account for this in their backup plan; if you’re close to the team, or within a small company, you should talk to them to ensure emails are captured and to discuss the privacy around this.

In a personal capacity, it’s different. While your company controls your work emails and owns the data within, you are responsible for backing up the data in your personal accounts and you have the authority to do.

The question is how you should go about backing these up. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be backing up your emails ad-hoc. They should be included as part of your backup plan, just like every other piece of data.

That’s easier to do if you use a local email client like Outlook. These send and receive emails from a server, but they also store copies locally on your machine. This means the client doesn’t have to pull a request from the server every time you load your emails, it simply syncs the latest changes.

If you are using Outlook, you can backup the data to a PST file. That option is found by going to File > Open & Export > Import/Export > Export to a file. You can choose which folders you want to export and it’ll all be packaged up nicely in the PST file.

This PST file is designed to be read by an email client. It doesn’t literally package up your emails into a readable format within a file. That’s not a big deal, though, since it’s a breeze to import them back into Outlook should you suffer data loss.

If you use an online service for email, you need to investigate how they handle backup – refer to their help page or contact customer support. If you use Gmail, visit the Google Takeout service. Here you can choose from all the Google services that you want to export, where to export to (like a cloud service), and the frequency (which is great for automated backup).

Alternatively, you could bring these online services into your email client by connecting them with IMAP. This will then mean that you can follow the Outlook export method by packaging them up into a PST file. While those using Gmail will have no need to do this, due to the ease of Google Takeout, it’s a good solution if you’re using a less robust online email service.

Finally, remember that one of the key aspects of backup is frequency. Backing up is pretty useless if you only do it once a year. Instead, automate the process to happen at least once a week, though ideally incrementally whenever a change is made.


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