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How to Backup Email Accounts

GreenGeeks does not allow email archival on our network, and we strongly encourage our customers to conduct regular email audits, purging old useless emails.

Most users utilize the IMAP protocol for email, which leaves a copy of the messages on the server, whereas POP3 downloads the mail only to your local PC and often deletes the server’s copy of the message.

Since a copy gets retained on the server, IMAP accounts can grow extremely large if messages aren’t regularly deleted, eventually slowing down your email client & the backend server.

The solution is to create regular backups locally and purge out any unnecessary data on the server side.

Email Backups

Creating regular backups of your email account ensures that your critical emails, attachments, contacts, and other valuable data remain accessible and recoverable, even in unexpected situations such as email server failures, hacking attempts, and synchronization errors. 

There are several different ways to create a backup of your email data, and we’ve provided a few of the more popular free solutions below.

Hosting Account Backup

If your account is less than 10GB, it’s possible to generate a full backup of the hosting account, including any email accounts, using the Backup Wizard tool. 

The Backup Wizard generates a complete 1:1 backup of your current hosting account, with the email content stored in the /mail/ directory. These backups are easy to restore on another server but have limited utility for local use or searching.

Email Clients with Backup Features:

Some email clients have built-in backup features that allow you to export your emails and related data. 

Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird allows you to archive email accounts using the built-in Export/Save-As functionality. 

Third-party add-ons like ImportExportTools can speed up this process by providing additional tools for exporting a whole folder at once or converting the exported messages to HTML files(viewable in a web browser).

Microsoft Outlook

Outlook offers export options to create backups of your emails, contacts, and calendars in the PST format.

Aside from saving the account, it’s also possible to save/export individual messages using the Save As function like Thunderbird.

Refer to the Microsoft documentation on generating a PST backup.


Gmail can fetch and send messages from external servers, like your GreenGeeks hosting account, and it’s simple to configure.

When you set up the account in Gmail, it will download all of the existing messages to your Gmail Inbox.

These messages can then be purged from the GreenGeeks server, reducing your usage while leaving a copy of the messages in Gmail for archival.

Gmail will automatically check for future messages once per hour, but the exact frequency varies based on email volume.

Refer to the GreenGeeks Support Article for step-by-step instructions on connecting your GreenGeeks Email with your Gmail Profile. 

MailStore Home

In addition to the email-client-based tools, dedicated email backup tools and scripts allow you to create backups of your IMAP emails in searchable, easy-to-restore formats. 

MailStore HomeMailStore is a powerful Windows-based tool that supports various email platforms, including IMAP, and the best part is that it’s free for personal use.

You can backup your email data locally, export it to a file/archive, or upload the messages to another email account/server.

Other Tools

In addition to specialty GUI tools like MailStore, there are also some powerful command-line-based tools, which may require some technical knowledge. 

    • imapsync: a command-line tool that can synchronize or backup IMAP mailboxes from one server to another.
    • OfflineIMAP: Python-based tool for synchronizing local maildirs with remote IMAP accounts.


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