There are several reasons why you might want to save your emails to your hard drive, including recovering from sudden data loss. Backing up emails to an external hard drive ensures that you always have access to them, even if your account is attacked by a hacker.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to back up email messages from the best email clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
What is an email client?
An email client is a program that allows users to compose, receive, send, access and manage email messages from multiple accounts in one place.
Users typically create folders and shortcuts to organize emails so that they can be searched for by details such as time, subject, sender, and content.
How to save Thunderbird emails to an external hard drive
Thunderbird Email is a free application that’s easy to set up and easy to configure for Windows, Mac and Linux.
It stores all of your settings, messages, folders and other information in a separate file than Thunderbird program files. This file is called your profile directory You need to use it to back up your email.
Find your complete Mozilla Thunderbird profile
Make sure Thunderbird is not running and open the profile directory. Where to find it depends on the operating system you are using. Below, we’ll show you how to find your profile on Windows, Mac and Linux.
- Type Run from the Start menu.
- Enter% appdata% and click OK.
- Open the Thunderbird folder, then open the Profiles folder.
Find Thunderbird Profile on Mac
- Open Finder.
- Press Command + Shift + G to open a window asking for a folder name.
- Enter ~ / Library / Thunderbird / Profiles / and click Go.
- Open the Thunderbird folder and click Profiles.
- Open the file manager and change the view settings to show hidden files.
- Open a folder named .thunderbird.
- Your Thunderbird profile folder will be named xyxyx.default, where xyxyx is a random character set. In the screenshot below, the profile folder is 5euiyvw.default.
Copy, save or back up a Thunderbird profile
Highlight all files and folders in your Thunderbird profile. Now you can copy your email data to your external hard drive to create a backup. It is a good idea, especially for very large email profiles, to compress folders and files into a zip file. The ZIP file is compressed and takes up much less space.
- To compress files and folders on Windows, select all and click the Send to Compressed (zip) folder.
- On a Mac, to compress files, select the files and folders you want to compress, right-click one of them, and choose Compress # of Items.
- The newly created zip file will be named Archive.zip.
- To compress files on Linux, type tar -zcf MozillaProfiles.tar.gz in the Terminal window and press Enter. The name of your compressed file will be MozillaProfiles.tar.gz.
- First, log into your Google account and open the Google Archiver.
- Start by logging into your Google account and visiting Google Takeout
- Click Deselect All to deselect all Google products.
- Scroll down until you find “Mail” and select it.
- If you do not want to back up all your emails, click the drop-down menu next to the “All mail data included” field and select the types of emails you want to keep.
- Scroll down the page and click Next. Google gives you the ability to back up your data directly to Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box. However, since we want to save our emails to an external hard drive, select “Send download link by email”.
- Select one-time archive or scheduled export. Select the file type and size, then click Create Archive.
- Depending on the size of your email account, it can take many hours before your file is ready. You will receive an email when this is done.
- When you receive the zip file from Google, it will be in the .MBOX file format. Then you can save the file to an external hard drive.
- Open MSO and click File> Open & Export> Import / Export> Further”.
- In this wizard, click Export to File> Next.
- Select the Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next.
- Select the Inbox folder as the export folder. If you want to export a different folder, expand your Inbox and choose what you want to keep.
- Select the Include Subfolders checkbox if you want to include them.
- Replace duplicates with exported elements.
- Allow creation of duplicate elements.
- Do not export duplicate elements.
Save to hard drive
Highlight all folders, files or ZIP archive you created and copy the files. Go to the external hard drive you want to save the emails to and paste them.
How to save Gmail emails to your hard drive
To learn more about .MBOX files, see “What to do with exported .MBOX files”.
Save Outlook email messages to an external hard drive
Microsoft Outlook (MSO) is a very popular email client. It works seamlessly on Windows and Mac operating systems, although memory usage may be affected. If you’re on Linux and don’t know how to start Outlook, check out Microsoft Office 365 on Linux
Back up and export OST / PST from Outlook email application
To back up Outlook to an external hard drive, connect it to your computer. If a dialog box appears, click Cancel.
Select one of the following options:
Click Browse and select your external drive from the list of storage devices.
Click Next and then Finish. If you want to protect your messages, enter your password when prompted and click OK.
It is always recommended to back up all important files on your computer, including email. If your computer crashes or gets jailbroken, you always have a backup to access important data.
Saving emails to an external hard drive also allows you to import them back to your new computer.