Use Gmail As Email Backup Space

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 5, 2008
Updated • Nov 29, 2012
Backup, Email, Gmail

Gmail is currently providing each Gmail user with Gigabytes of free storage space for their mails and attachments. One way to utilize that space is to use Gmail as the email backup for a local email client like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook. The great news is that no third party software is needed to backup the local email at Gmail.

We will utilize IMAP to transfer the local mails to Gmail which will make it possible in the end to simply move or copy mails to the Gmail account in the local email client.

The first thing that needs to be configured is IMAP support in Gmail. This is done in Settings > Forwarding and Pop / Imap. You only need to check the IMAP enabled checkbox to enable IMAP access for that GMail account.

The rest has to be configured in the local email client. Thunderbird will be used as an example but the basic settings are similar in all other email clients such as Microsoft Outlook.

Here are the values that you need to create the IMAP account in your local email client:

Email Address: [email protected]
incoming server:
incoming server port: 993
secure connection: SSL
incoming user name: [email protected]

outgoing server
outgoing user name: [email protected]
outgoing server port: 587
secure connection: TLS

Google provides detailed (but sometimes slightly outdated) information about setting up IMAP in various email clients.

If the setup was successful you should check for new mail. All Gmail mail header should be downloaded to the local mail client.

To backup mails you simply move the mail folders into the Gmail IMAP folders. They will be created there with a label taken directly from the folder's name. All folders and emails will be accessible in Gmail in the Labels menu.

It is even possible to take it a step further and delete old mails in the email client afterwards. If you need to access them again they are still accessible in Gmail. It is still advised to create a local email backup before deleting any mails locally.

If you encounter difficulties moving or copying folders you could circumvent the problem by creating the folders manually. The emails can then be copied or moved into the newly created folder easily.


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  1. jasray said on February 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    What to do when recovery is necessary if drive is encrypted?

    Note: If you encrypt the drive, you may not make use of the recovery disc that you can create using EaseUs.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 11, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      You need to gain access to TrueCrypt to make available the contents. If you have another Windows machine, you can extract the backup, move it to a USB Flash drive, and restore the backup using this unencrypted version.

  2. Karl J. Gephart said on February 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I assume EaseUS Todo Backup Free will allow me to create a VHD or ISO so that, after using my system bootup disk, will allow me to recover my files quickly and easily. Windows restore is so slow.

  3. GK said on February 12, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Use Encrypting File System and just copy the files. Backup your EFS key certificate.

  4. Maelish said on February 12, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I have great success with Crashplan. It has a feature that allows you to backup to another computer that could be on the same network or across the country. Best of all, that feature isn’t tied to the regular Crashplan subscription. So it’s a win-win for me.

  5. Noel said on February 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Martin, this is a great tip. I use it quite often, but lately I am looking into softwares that would offer me one click back up of certain folders on my HDD, but copy as it is, instead of XML or other format.

    I used a program in the past that backed up everything ‘nicely’ in XML format and when it was time to restore, I could not restore a single file, since then I am using Syncback to back up files ‘as is’, but clicking 10 different profiles is pain, one click would be better, any suggestion?

    FBackup offers such option but for only one time back up. For incremental back ups, you got to pay up.

  6. Norman said on February 27, 2014 at 10:02 am

    There is this other solution too. It gets things dne quicker. Just pointing it out. Its called Rollback Rx. Naturally its useful only when the underlying hardware is healthy. Say incase you were infected by a virus or were caught unaware because a file was accidently deleted. Rollback offers 256 bit AES which is really all you need unless ofcourse a fanatic terrorist is after your data. Periodic physical backup are just as necessary.

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