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I know that when using IMAP, changes made locally in your email client(s) are reflected onto the server, and vice versa. So if you delete an email in your email provider's webmail, it'll no longer show up in your email client(s), and so on.

That being said, what happens if I'm using IMAP and my email provider suffers from data loss (complete or temporary, the latter of which has happened to some GMail users before)? Wouldn't this then mean that my local email client(s) would show that I have no emails and I'd be screwed and wouldn't be able to access my emails unless I made backups myself?

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migrated from serverfault.com Jan 25 '12 at 12:38

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I'd be screwed and wouldn't be able to access my emails unless I made backups myself?

You are always screwed unless you made backups yourself - especially if you are using a free service.

If your clients were caching mail and have not yet initiated connections to the IMAP server (which would likely tell them to flush everything), you still could scavenge the messages out of the cache.

You could easily use your mail client's "copy folder" feature for manual backups to local drives. Also, there is a plethora of free software for backing up IMAP mailboxes, feel free to do a Google search to find the best fit for your platform and your preferences.

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