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Email Archiving

by | May 4, 2018

When you setup email using IMAP connections (the type of connection that lets you see email on multiple devices), your email stays on the mail server until you delete the message or save it in an archive.  Archiving messages you want to save and deleting messages you do not need can help the performance of your email software.

Archiving from GMail

The following instructions will guide you through creating a zip file of your emails on Gmail. You can then download this file to your local computer.

Start by…
1. Open Gmail.
2. Click on your profile icon in the top right corner (usually your initial by default).
3. Click on My Account.
4. In the Personal Info and Privacy section, click Control your content.
5. Click Create Archive under the Download your data window.
6. The Select data to include section has every option selected by default. What you include in your archived file is your choice, but you’ll want to make sure that Mail is enabled (Mail is probably sufficient for most users). You’ll notice an arrow next to Mail and if you click it, now you have the option to select All Mail or specific labels (folders, directories).
7. Once you have everything selected that you want, click Next at the bottom.
8. Make sure the File Type is .zip.
9. Set an Archive size (max). This will depend on how much Mail is in your Gmail account and what other choices you selected in step 6. If your zip file is greater than your max size, then you will get multiple files. For example, if your select 2GB as your max size but your zip file is 4GB then you will get two 2GB zip files.
10. Next, select a Delivery method. Options are: Send a download link via email, Add the file to Google Drive, Add the file to Dropbox or Add the file to OneDrive.
11. Finally, click Create Archive.

The archive creation can take several hours or even a couple of days to create depending on how big the archive is. Google will send you an email when the archive is ready.

Archiving Mac Mail Emails

The following instructions will guide you through archiving emails in Mac Mail to your local computer.

  1. Launch Mail and right click your inbox from the left menu and select New Mailbox. Name the mailbox with a date/years associated with the messages for future reference (Archive 2017/2018) and choose On My Mac as the location. Press OK. The new mailbox name should appear in the drop down at the left.
  2. Select all of the messages you want to archive and drag and drop them into the new Archive 2017/2018 mailbox.
  3. Export your selected emails by control-click on the mailbox name in the left list and select Export mailbox. Choose where you want to save your archive on your computer, and subfolders if you have any by selecting Export all subfolders. Exporting your mail could take some time.
  4. Once exported, you should see a mailbox icon appear where you exported the mail. Check to make sure all of the emails you exported are in there.
  5. Now that the archived mail folder has been exported to another location on your computer, delete the archive in Mail app by control-click the mailbox and select Delete Mailbox.
  6. When you want to view your exported archived messages, you should do so in Mac mail. Once Mail is launched select File > Import Mailboxes (select Apple Mail as date format). Click continue and navigate to wherever you just exported the messages, and then click Choose. Your archived messages should now appear in your mail client.
  7. When you are done viewing archived messages, you can delete them again by control-click the imported mailbox and click Delete Mailbox. All of the archived messages can still be found in the original exported mailbox location you specified in your computers location earlier.

Archiving from Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, and Outlook 365

  1. Click File -> Info -> Tools -> Clean Up Old Items
    Note: In Outlook 2013, the path is File -> Info -> Cleanup Tools -> Archive
  2. Click the “Archive this folder and all subfolders” option
  3. Choose the folder you want to archive
  4. Choose a date for which you want to archive items older than
    e.g. For items from December 31, 2017 and earlier, choose January 1, 2018
  5. Browse to the location on your computer where you want to store your archive .pst file.
    Note: You can create multiple archive files. We recommend archiving folders individually and including the archive dates to help you find archived email more easily.
  6. Check the box next to “Include Items with Do Not AutoArchive checked” to archive items any items you may have excluded from automatic archiving.
  7. Click OK

This process will place items in an archive file on your computer and remove them from the server and your inbox and folders. We recommend backing up your computer and/or external storage drives regularly.

If you would like more information on auto archiving your data in Outlook, visit:

Archiving in Mozilla Thunderbird

Create an archive of all your Mozilla Thunderbird data (emails, contacts, settings, etc.) as a backup or to copy it to a different computer.

  • Make sure Mozilla Thunderbird is not running.
  • Open your Mozilla Thunderbird profile directory:
    • Using Windows:
      • Select Start/Run and type %appdata% into the search bar
      • Click the %appdata% folder
      • Open the Thunderbird folder
      • Now open the Profiles folder
    • Using Mac OS or OS X:
      • Open a new Finder window
      • Hit Command + Shift + G
      • Type ~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles and click Go
    • Using Linux:
      • Open a Terminal or file browser window
      • Go to the ~/.thunderbird directory
  • Highlight all files and folders in it
  • Copy files to a new backup location (can be an external drive or somewhere locally on your computer) and compress files into a zip file
  • Your email profile is now backed up

Restoring or moving your email to another computer:

  • Make sure Mozilla Thunderbird is not running
  • Navigate to the location where you stored your profile backup and unzip it if applicable
  • Confirm that the existing profile folder and the profile backup have identical names
  • If your backup profile uses the .Restoration Profile extension, change it to the .default extension
  • Replace the existing profile with the backup file

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