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Backing up your email

For many computer users their email is their life; everything from business meetings to birthdays is saved in the email program. So the data in the email system is probably the most important on your computer.

Ideally, emails should be included as part of a data protection strategy. You should back up all your data, preferably on a daily or weekly basis.

Sometimes though itís useful to have a backup of just the message stores. Particularly if you are copying data between computers. Thereís a number of ways of doing this depending upon your email program and operating system.

Mac Users

A great little utility for the Mac is Email Backup. This will backup Entourage, Mac Mail, Thunderbird and Eudora. This is a terrific utility that saves a lot of time for Mac users.

The Leopard operating system has the built in Time Machine feature which will backup all the system data. However backing up the entire machine has its own issues of space and convenience.

Mac users should note that all their data files usually hide in the Users directory on the system hard drive. If you backup that folder, almost all of your files and settings will be saved.

Windows Users

Microsoft have a number of backup utilities built into Windows XP and Vista. These work okay to a degree and there are all manner of third party backup utilities of various efficiency and reliability.

In Windows Vista, all user data is normally saved in the User folder. In XP, it hides under Documents and Settings. Backing up all the data in these folders will save most data. Keep in mind a backup of the user folders will usually report errors as some files will always be open.

Unfortunately there isn't a Windows equivalent of the Mac Email Backup tool so users have to rely on the various methods in each of the Windows email clients.


Microsoft have a tool to automatically backup your personal folders. This is a free download from Microsoft. The advantage with backing up the entire personal folder is this saves all your contacts, calendar and notes along with your emails.

Outlook Express

Microsoft donít have a backup tool for Outlook Express users, preferring instead to explain where the files are kept.

However the useful OEHelp website has an Outlook Express backup tool. We havenít tested this on Vista's Windows Mail program, but the formats in the new system are the same as Outlook Express.


Thunderbird too doesnít have a built in backup. However there are instructions on backing up at the Tech Support Alert website.

Regardless of what way you backup, itís important to check the backup works and you can access it when it's needed most.

You should consult your tech adviser about a regular maintenance plan that includes checking the backup routine.



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