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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Put all your Emails on a USB Drive for Offline Access

How do you ensure that you always have access to all your emails - even at places where there is no Internet or when you aren’t carrying your own laptop?
One of the popular options is that you use a tool like Microsoft Outlook to download all your emails to the computer beforehand and you can then read them anywhere even in offline mode. Both Gmail and Hotmail offer POP3 access to help you download messages using any email client while there are easy workarounds for Yahoo Mail.
There are some downsides though. First, most email clients aren’t portable (can you carry emails on a USB drive?) and second, if all you want is offline access to your Gmail messages and nothing extra, Outlook is probably too heavy a tool for that purpose.
I have been testing a Windows-only utility called MailStore that seems like an ideal solution for such a problem – the tool is free, there’s a portable version for your USB stick and best of all, it works out of the box with your email account without requiring any configuration.

Step by Step – How to Backup your Emails

The way MailStore works is something like this. You install (or unzip) the software to a folder and then select the email accounts that you want to archive. They can be your Gmail accounts, Microsoft Exchange, your old Outlook PST files, Thunderbird and any other web email service that supports either IMAP or POP3.
The tool will pull your email messages from all these places into a central location. If you have a large mailbox, you may specify criteria to skip emails that are older than ‘n’ days. It skips the Spam and Junk folders by default but you may also manually specify any folders /labels that you wish to include (or exclude) from the backup.
That’s it. There’s a convenient search box allowing you to search all your email accounts from one place. You can copy the MailStore folder to your USB drive, or even your Dropbox folder, and access all the emails from anywhere, anytime. Since this is more of an email backup utility and not a full-blown email client, it cannot be used for replying or sending new emails.
To quickly recap, here are some scenarios where you may find Mail Store useful:
0. You want to backup all your web mails to a safe location.
1. You want to carry your Microsoft Exchange / Outlook emails on a USB drive.
2. You have multiple email accounts and need to search all your mailboxes from one place.
3. You want offline access to all your web-based email accounts.

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