How do I archive mail from the server to my own computer?

We’re occasionally asked how to archive email messages from our servers to a customer’s own computer. You might want to do this to create a permanent copy of the mail before you cancel our service, or to reduce the amount of server disk storage used by large email messages.

Remember that if you delete the server copy when you move messages, your computer will have the only copy of the mail. Make sure your own computer is being backed reliably up to avoid losing the messages.

If you’re just making a copy of a few messages, you can use our Webmail pages. When you’re looking at a message, click View Source in the top-right corner, then click Save Message.

If you want to copy or move a large number of messages, though, you should set up an email program on your own computer to make IMAP connections to the mailbox, then drag the messages to copy them to your own computer. You can use almost any modern mail program to do this.

The sections below describe how to do this in a few popular programs:

Mozilla Thunderbird

The free Mozilla Thunderbird mail program is easy to set up; just follow our normal instructions to make it read your mail.

Then click File > New Folder and create a new “local folder” — that is, a folder on your own computer, not the server. The choice will look similar to this:

Create a local folder in Thunderbird

After you do this, the new folder will appear in the left column. Just drag the messages or folders from the server Inbox to the local folder you created. (You can Select All and drag a large number at once to save time.) This will move them from the server to the Thunderbird folder on your own computer, where you can always access them.

By default, dragging messages in Thunderbird moves them (deleting the original server copy). If you hold down the option key on a Mac or the ctrl key on Windows, it will make a copy of the messages, leaving a copy on the server as well.

If you want to go beyond moving mail to folders on your own computer, the free ImportExportTools add-on for Thunderbird can save mail to your computer in many other formats. For example, you can connect to your mailbox with us and export a folder of messages as a “.mbox” format file on your computer, which you can then import into many other programs.

Microsoft Outlook

First, set up the Microsoft Outlook program on your computer so that it can read your mail.

Then click New Folder and choose “My Outlook Data File” as the location, which creates a new folder on your own computer:

Create a local folder in Outlook

After you do this, the new folder will appear in the left column. Just drag the messages or folders from the server Inbox to the local folder you created. (You can Select All and drag a large number at once to save time.) This will move them from the server to the Outlook folder on your own computer, where you can always access them.

By default, dragging messages in Outlook moves them (deleting the original server copy). If you hold down the ctrl key, it will make a copy of the messages, leaving a copy on the server as well.

Apple Mail

First, set up the Apple Mail program on your computer so that it can read your mail.

Then click the Mailbox menu and choose New Mailbox (confusingly, this “New Mailbox” option creates a new folder in Apple Mail). Choose “On My Mac” as the destination, which creates a new folder on your own computer:

Create a local folder in Apple Mail

After you do this, the new folder will appear in the left column. Just drag the messages or folders from the server Inbox to the local folder you created. (You can Select All and drag a large number at once to save time.) This will move them from the server to the Apple Mail folder on your own computer, where you can always access them.

By default, dragging messages in Apple Mail moves them (deleting the original server copy). If you hold down the option key while dragging, it will make a copy of the messages, leaving a copy on the server as well.