Many of us have very useful information stored in emails and would probably have to do a lot of extra work if our e-mails were lost. To backup or archive emails firstly check to see what type of email you have.
There are basically two types of email organised under two protocols POP3 and IMAP, . POP3 is a protocol to download and locally store your e-mails. IMAP4 is a protocol used to access and manage your emails on the mail server.
With POP3 your emails are stored on your own computer When your email programme connects with your mailbox it downloads all the messages stored in your mailbox to your computer, and by default will delete the messages from the server. The messages are then only on your computer and will need to be backed up with all your other data. Programs that are used to process POP3 protocol emails include Outlook, Windows Mail, Apple Mail, Eudora, and Mozilla Thunderbird.
With IMAP You can open mails, create folders to store mails, delete messages from the server and otherwise manage your emails. The primary difference is that all messages are saved and stored on the server, not on your local computer. This in turn allows you to access the same email messages using different devices, such as your computer, notebook, phone or pad. Gmail and ICloud are examples IMAP email accounts.
Emails as all other digital data need to be backed up, the following archiving tips from the by National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress provide a structure which can be used to set up email backup system
1. Identify all your e-mail sources i.e. Identify your personal e-mail accounts.
Within each account, find all folders or other separate groupings of messages; include any “archived” messages. Decide which messages have long-term value. Pick the messages you feel are especially important. Save attachments that are part of the selected messages.
2. Export the selected messages
If saving a few messages, you can use the “save as” command in your e-mail browser or software program to export them as individual files. If saving many e-mails, investigate automatically exporting them using the email program. If possible, save messages in an open format. Save metadata for the messages, including the message “header” (the subject, from, to and time and date).Organize the saved messages
3. Catalogue the messages
Give individual messages and attachments descriptive file names. Create a directory/folder structure on your computer to put the saved messages and attachments. Write a brief summary of the directory structure and its files. Make copies and manage them in different places
4. Ensure you have more than one copy
Make at least two copies of your selected messages and attachments—more copies are better. One copy can stay on your computer or laptop; put other copies on separate media such as DVDs, CDs, portable hard drives, thumb drives or Internet storage. Store copies in different locations that are as physically far apart as practical. If disaster strikes one location, copies of your e-mails and attachments in the other place should be safe.
Put a copy of the summary description with your important papers in a secure location.
Check your saved e-mail and attachments at least once a year to make sure you can read them. Create new media copies every five years or when necessary to avoid data loss.
Then sit back happy to know that your emails are securely stored, under your own control.