In the year 2011, 0.02% of all Gmail users found their inbox completely empty because of a bug in various data centre of Google. Although Google team was able to restore emails for each and every affected user from their offline backups, but this incident clearly shows that you should also have a copy of all your mails with you!



Let’s check out in this post how to backup your emails from Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo server onto your computer’s hard drive? The method we are going to see in this post will backup not only your inbox but also each and every folder present in your mail account including drafts and attachments!

How to make an offline backup of all your emails?

For backing up emails onto your hard drive, we will make use of Post Office Protocol (POP) feature offered by major Email service providers. In this post we will see the configuration steps for Gmail account in details, while we will only see POP3 settings for Outlook and Yahoo.

First of all, make sure that POP is enabled for your Gmail account:

gmail pop

It is enabled by default when you sign up for a Google account. But in case if you have disabled it, then you can enable it again by going to Mail Settings >> Forwarding and POP/IMAP and select Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded) and click on save changes button.

In case you only want to download new emails, then you need to select Enable pop for mail that arrives from now on – This will disregard all old emails from getting downloaded onto your computer.

Important note: Don’t forget to select Keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox from the drop-down menu in front of When messages are accessed with POP. If by mistake you select delete Gmail’s Copy, then all emails will be deleted from your account as soon as your computer tries to fetch those emails.

Now download Thunderbird and install it on your computer. Once the software has been installed and running successfully, go to Tools >> Account settings and look for Account Actions drop-down menu in the bottom left of the window and select Add mail account:

add mail account

A new window will pop up which will ask you to enter your full name, email address and password:

mail account setup

In the Email Address and Password fields, enter your full Gmail Address (abc.xyz@gmail.com) OR Google Apps Address (abc.xyz@domain.com) AND Password correctly. In your name field, enter your exact full name that you are using with your Google account.

Click on continue button and if all the entered details are correct, Thunderbird will now communicate with Google server and you will be presented with following screen:

thunderbird gmail pop

On this screen select POP – Download all messages onto this computer, folders are local only. Without changing anything else, click on create account button.

Note: You are not required to enter any POP3 settings manually, as Thunderbird has these details built-in or can fetch them from the server automatically. But if you’d like to setup the client manually, then manual settings are present at the bottom of this post.

The mail client will now start downloading emails from your account. While the downloading is going on, go to Tools >> Account settings and select Server settings:

thunderbird server settings

In Check new messages every enter anything in between 10 minutes to 60 minutes. Also make sure that Leave messages on server is checked and the two boxes just below it (For at most and Until I delete them) are unchecked (see screenshot above).

You are also required to un-check Enable adaptive junk mail controls for this account under Junk settings. You should also select Don’t delete any messages under Disk space.

junk disk space settings

Click on okay button and your mail client is now ready to act as your email backup client.

POP3 Settings for Google mail server for Manual Configuration

Incoming mail server settings:

  • Username: you@gmail.com OR mail@domain.com.
  • Password: Password you chose when creating your Gmail/Apps id.
  • POP3 Server: pop.gmail.com OR pop.googlemail.com
  • Security Type: SSL with Accept all certificates
  • Port: 995

Outgoing mail server settings:

  • SMTP Server: smtp.gmail.com OR smtp.googlemail.com
  • Security Type: TLS or SSL with Accept all certificates
  • Port: 587 for TLS and 465 for SSL

Outlook POP3 Settings

Incoming mail server settings:

  • Username: you@outlook.com OR you@live.com OR you@hotmail.com OR mail@domain.com.
  • Password: Password you chose when creating your outlook mail id.
  • POP3 Server: pop3.live.com
  • Security Type: SSL with Accept all certificates
  • Port: 995

Outgoing mail server settings:

  • SMTP Server: smtp.live.com
  • Security Type: TLS or SSL with Accept all certificates
  • Port: 587 for TLS and 465 for SSL

Yahoo POP3 Settings

Incoming mail server settings:

  • Username: you@yahoo.com OR you@yahoo.co.uk etc.
  • Password: Password you chose when creating your yahoo mail id.
  • POP3 Server: pop.mail.yahoo.com
  • Security Type: SSL with Accept all certificates
  • Port: 995

Outgoing mail server settings:

  • SMTP Server: smtp.mail.yahoo.com
  • Security Type: TLS or SSL with Accept all certificates
  • Port: 587 for TLS and 465 for SSL

Important notes:

1. Total time required for downloading your whole mail account depends on your connection speed and space that you are using on the server in Megabytes or Gigabytes:

gmail storage space

2. The value for Check for new messages every under Server settings should always be greater than 10 minutes. If you don’t receive much emails, then you should set its value to 60 minutes or more.

Time less than 10 minutes may result in a POP error, as the server may reject all your fetch requests. This is done to prevent server overloading, as there are more users using the same server for sending and receiving emails.

3. You should always use a trusted security suite or an anti-virus software when downloading emails via POP, as it may download malware onto your computer’s hard drive. Although this rarely happens.

4. If you are using your office computer to download mails and your network administrator has blocked access to major mail providers, then your client will not be able to fetch any emails from the server.

5. We are using POP instead of IMAP, because IMAP generally downloads mail headers only and the attachments will get only downloaded when you specifically ask your client to do so. While POP downloads and sync your whole mail account in one go.

6. Sometimes POP may download the same message multiple times or may lose some messages.

If you have any problem then feel free to comment below OR you can browse your mail provider’s knowledge base or Thunderbird’s knowledge base.