How to Backup Your Emails

How to Backup Your Emails


It’s always recommended to have a backup of your data, let it be your website files or email messages. In this tutorial you will learn how to backup/export your email messages using three popular desktop email clients.

Quick links:

Before starting, it’s worth to get the basic understanding of incoming mail protocols and their differences. In short, there are two incoming mail protocols: IMAP and POP3. The main difference between these two is that IMAP allows synchronizing email among multiple devices. Unfortunately, synchronization is not possible with the POP3 protocol.

Another big downside of POP3 is its inability to export sent/outgoing email messages to the desktop email client. Thus, if you have IMAP enabled for your account, always use this protocol. For more detailed explanation about differences between IMAP and POP3 see this tutorial.

What you’ll need

Before you begin this guide, you’ll need the following:

  • Access to your hosting control panel.
  • Desktop Email client.

Step 1 – Acquiring Email Server Details

First of all, you need to get details and connect to the email server. At Hostinger, email server details can be acquired by following these steps:

  1. Access Hostinger control panel and input Email in the search field.
  2. Click on the Email Accounts icon.
    Hostinger Email Accounts Icon
  3. Hit Manage button next to your email account and click on Info.
    Hostinger Email Accounts Section Info
  4. A pop up with available email details will appear. Write down these details or copy them to a text editor on your computer.
    Hostinger Email Details Pop Up

Step 2 – Backing Up Email

Once you have the email server details, you can proceed with the configuration of your email client and the backup creation of your email(s) messages. Below you can find steps showing how to backup emails on three different email clients.

Option 1 – Backing up Email on Outlook

Begin with adding your email account to Outlook. In the example below, you can see how it is done in Outlook 2016. For instructions on how to do the same on Outlook 2013 see this tutorial.

  1. Open Outlook and click on File -> Add Account.
    Outlook Add Account Button
  2. On a new window choose Manual Setup or additional server types option and click Next.
    Outlook Manual Setup Option
  3. Click on POP or IMAP and hit Next.
    Outlook POP or IMAP Option
  4. In a new window enter the details you have acquired in the first step and press the Next button.
    Outlook Enter Email Details Manually
  5. To complete the configuration press Done.

Once you have added the email account to Outlook proceed with creating a backup file of your emails:

  1. Click File, choose Open & Export and click on the Import/Export button.
    Outlook Open and Export Button
  2. On a new window choose Export to a file option and hit Next button.
    Outlook Export to a File
  3. Choose export file type. For this example we will select Outlook Data File (.pst). Click Next.
    Outlook Export Choose File Type
  4. Now select your email account from the list and again, click the Next button.
    Outlook Export Choose Email Account
  5. Finally, choose the destination folder and hit Finish button.
    Outlook Export Choose Destination Folder
  6. You will find a backup of your emails in .pst format within the choosen folder.
    Outlook Backed up Email

As you can see, creating an email backup on Outlook is easy and takes just a few minutes.

Option 2 – Backing up Email on Thunderbird

Launch Thunderbird and start a new email account configuration wizard. If it’s the first time you open Thunderbird, configuration wizard will open instantly. Atlernatively, you can click on the Email button to initiate the wizard:

  1. On the first screen choose Skip this and use my existing email since you already have an email account.
    Thunderbird Configuration Wizard
  2. Now enter your name, email address, its password and click Continue.
    Thunderbird Configuration Enter Details
  3. On the next step Mozilla will try to automatically retrieve the email server details. In most cases it will fail. Thus, you will have to input them manually. Simply enter the details from the first step and press the Re-test button. If you do not get any errors, hit Done button.
    Thunderbird Enter Email Details

You should notice that Thunderbird does not show any of your emails. To download email messages from the server press Get Messages button.

Thunderbird Get Messages Button

You have successfully configured Thunderbird client. Now let’s proceed and back up your email messages. It can be tricky on Thunderbird since this email client does not have an inbuilt email export feature. However, there is a workaround:

  1. Create a new folder on your computer and name it Email Backup.
  2. In Thunderbird access the email folder you want to backup.
  3. Use CTRL + A (CMD + A for MacOS) and select all messages within the folder.
  4. Right click on the email messages and choose Save As option.
    Thunderbird Backup Email
  5. Choose Email Backup as a destination folder.
  6. That’s it, Thunderbird will export all selected email messages in eml format.
    Thunderbird Email Messages Backed Up

You have successfully downloaded all incoming email messages and saved them on your computer.

Option 3 – Backing Up Emails on Mac Mail

MacOS users can backup emails using Mac Mail client. Follow steps below to add your email account to Mac Mail:

  1. Launch Mac Mail and choose Mail -> Add Account.
  2. Choose Other Mail Account… option and press the Continue button.
    Mac Mail Other Mail Account
  3. Enter your email details from the first step and press Sign In.
    Mail Mail Enter Email Details
  4. If the details you entered are correct, Mac Mail will sign in and download your latest emails.

Backing up email on Mac Mail is incredibly easy:

  1. Right click on the email folder you want to backup and choose Export Mailbox.
    Mac Mail Export Mailbox
  2. Choose a destination folder and press the Choose button.
  3. Mac Mail will export your emails in form of mbox archive.
    Mac Mail Emails Exported to mbox

That’s it, you have successfully backed up your email by using Mac Mail client. mbox format is broadly supported by all major email clients. Thus you should not face any trouble if you decide to migrate to a different email client.


By finishing this tutorial you have learned how to backup your emails using 3 different desktop email clients. You have also learned the main difference between POP3 and IMAP protocols.

About the author

Domantas G.

Domantas leads the content and SEO teams forward with fresh ideas and out of the box approaches. Armed with extensive SEO and marketing knowledge, he aims to spread the word of Hostinger to every corner of the world. During his free time, Domantas likes to hone his web development skills and travel to exotic places.

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