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I have an old school email account that is expiring in a couple of months, which supports IMAP and POP3. I would like to make a complete offline backup of all my email in that account, ideally with easy offline access to it in the future (i.e. are the emails stored in "modular" files/folders VS some obscure format). How do I do this? Thanks!

By the way, I use Mac OS X and sometimes Linux.

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If you have Outlook or any other desktop email client, just set up a new account (in the desktop client) with the POP3 information, and it will download (most POP3's only support syncing the main Inbox folder, if I'm not mistaken) the entire mailbox to your computer.

Then, no matter what happens to the online account, you'll still have all the mails from the account...including offline access.

I recommend that you use POP3, because if you delete something on the online mailbox after it has downloaded to the client, the client won't synchronize that change, so this means that after the account has expired, you'll still have your mails.

IMAP, on the other hand, you can syncronize more folders, but the changes are reflected on both the server and the computer, thus you may lose your mails from the online email account after it expires...

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Sounds good so far, so I could do it with other programs like Thunderbird, right? (I don't have an Outlook licence) Is the offline copy stored in a "modular" file/folder so I can access the emails later using any program? (editing question to ask this). Thanks! – hpy Feb 21 '11 at 16:57
yes, Thunderbird, Linux Evolution, and others, will work, @penyuan. you could always download the mails, then copy the data file, and keep the mails wherever you went... – studiohack Feb 21 '11 at 16:59
Are you leaving a copy on the server under POP or just stripping the online to take it offline? – random Feb 21 '11 at 17:00
@random has a valid point - you could also take everything offline...that would work for backup even better, I think... – studiohack Feb 21 '11 at 17:01

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