Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Should I backup my emails with Dropmyemail?

I have many times deleted some of my important emails from my inbox. I was
even locked out of my account when some hacker tried hacking my email. So I was
looking for a backup solution that I can view my emails even when my email
provider is down. Do you think that Dropmyemail is the way to go? I do not want
an offline backup since it’s a pain to load them all the time in case I want to
get my emails back.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #66
, I look at two good ways to backup your email so it can be
accessed in case of a mistake or disaster.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Backing up emails

I’m not at all familiar with Dropmyemail so I cannot give you a yes or a no
– or any kind of a sense for whether that would be a good solution or not. But
I definitely have thoughts on backing up your email!

There are two approaches to backing your email that I strongly

Backup locally

One is that you do what you’ve asked not to do. And that is to
install an email program on a PC; configure that email program to use something
like POP3 to download or IMAP to access the mail on your email server – and
then let the email program download all of the email to your PC.

I realize that’s not what you want and I understand why you don’t want it
but I’ll explain why, in a sense, that’s not gonna matter.

Backup with Gmail

The other solution is to use a different email service (like say, Google’s
Gmail) and have it fetch the email from your native email provider,
your native email service.

Now I don’t know if Google will do IMAP; but I know they’ll do POP 3; and
they may even do POP 3 and “leave the email on the server.”

What it boils down to is that: whenever you get email… then when you go to
Gmail, you can fetch the email from your regular email service and
place it into your Gmail account.


Now, there’s two problems with these approaches.

One is that the email service has to be working in order for your backups to
be able to back up. What that means is, whether it’s an online service or not,
whether it’s a PC based email service or not, you need to be able to access
your email account in order for the backup programs to backup your email.

If you don’t have access, they won’t have access. They need to be

  • Now in Gmail’s case I honestly don’t know if they will pick up your remote
    email if you’re not actually logged into Gmail.

  • In the case of a desktop email program, you need to leave that desktop email
    program running, or at least run it periodically, so that it’s constantly
    pulling for email and downloading new email as it arrives.

That doesn’t necessarily have to interfere with your ability to access your
email the way you’re used to accessing it. In fact it’s what I do here.

Here at home, I’m currently using Google’s Gmail for my day-to-day email
activity. I’m doing everything via the web interface; and so is my wife. She’s
using the Gmail web interface for her email.

But, in my basement, on a computer, I have a copy of Thunderbird running.
That copy of Thunderbird is periodically downloading the email from our
services, from all of our accounts, and squirreling it away on the PC that’s in
the basement.

That gives me a backup; it gives me a backup that I can get to even if I
don’t have internet. I can walk downstairs and take a look at what’s on that

Putting email back

Now, the concern you raised was your ability to put email back.

If that PC email program is configured to use IMAP, putting email back into
your account is simply a drag and drop operation. In fact, I’ve done that. I’ve
used that approach to actually push some email back in to my wife’s Google
email account. It works fine.

In a larger scale disaster, I really don’t know of any good solution to
pushing email back into an online email account. Yes, you can do it with IMAP:
it’s going to take an awful long time; it’s going to be difficult to do because
you’re going to end up having to do it from a PC – but there isn’t really a
good way to recreate an email account from a backup.

Saving your data

The point of the backup is not so much to be able to recreate the email
account, as it is to have the data so that you can potentially
use that data: maybe in an email program; maybe some other way; and
not have lost everything.

So, I really don’t think that what you’re looking for, the ability to more
easily push data back into the account, is a reasonable expectation.

With that out of the way, then, I’d really think about either of these other
two alternatives.

Configuring a PC based email program to use IMAP, and have it constantly
downloading email as a backup, is actually a pretty reasonable way to go. Like
I said, it’s the approach that I’m taking here at home. Not just for my email,
but for that of my wife as well.

Next from Answercast 66- Can I use my router’s DMZ to attach my IP-based phone to the internet?

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

6 comments on “Should I backup my emails with Dropmyemail?”

  1. After our experience on the East coast with Hurricane Sandy, you may want to move the computers in your basement to higher ground.

  2. I’m not sure I understand this backing up email via IMAP. If the PC is constantly on with Thunderbird (for example) running, then how is that a backup? Wouldn’t Thunderbird simply delete the email once the poster deletes the email from his email provider? Isn’t that the purpose of IMAP, to keep the email program in sync with the server?

    Sure, it would work for the situation that he can still access his email when the service is down, but I can’t see how it would be any good at letting him retrieve emails he has deleted.

    Wouldn’t you also need to run a backup program periodically, so the emails are copied somewhere else, so that when the email program syncs with the email provider, the emails are still somewhere else?

  3. @James
    In that sense, your right. If you delete your emails in the email program and empty the trash, they will also be deleted on the mail server. But with IMAP, you won’t lose your emails if the server goes down or if you somehow get locked out of your email account. On top of that, you should still be backing up your computer. Nothing replaces a good backup system, which will allow you to recover from disk damage and you can go back and retrieve the emails you may have accidentally deleted.

  4. “Now in GMail’s case I honestly don’t know if they will pick up your remote email if you’re not actually logged into GMail.”
    I can personally vouch for the fact that GMail does fetch remote email when you are not logged into to GMail. I rarely log in to GMail, but GMail gets all of the email from my other accounts which I’m then able to retrieve through Thunderbird and on my phone.
    And yes, GMail also gives you the option to leave mail on the server.
    These 2 things being the case, make Gmail the perfect candidate for backing up emails and also retrieving accidentally deleted emails. And with 10GB and growing every second, it can probably hold all of the emails the average user would get over a very long period.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.