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How to Backup your Emails using Thunderbird?

When working with email accounts, it is useful to make backup copies from time to time, either to be prepared in case the server fails, or to free up space. Backing up emails with Microsoft Outlook is simple, you just need to select the desired emails and drag them to a backup folder. But for those of us who use Thunderbird, the backup processis slightly more complicated, since Thunderbird doesn't have its own system to export emails by default.

There are several ways to make backup copies in Thunderbird and here we will review two of them.

The first option is to make a manual backup of your user profile with all the data you currently have configured. To do this you must find the directory in your Thunderbird installation that contains such data, copy it and then paste it in another location (another folder on the computer, an external hard drive, a USB drive, a CD, etc.). The Thunderbird installation location varies depending on the operating system and you can refer to the technical guides of the application how to find the profile data. Manuals for Thundebird for Linux, Windows or Mac explain step by step how to find your profile, make the copy and also how to restore it in the case it is necessary. This backup option is the most susceptible to errors and damage of the backup file.

As a second option it is possible to export the specific emails we want, instead of copying them all. We will do it through an add-on called ImportExportTools. It will be already in the list of add-ons in the latest version of Thunderbird application. If it is not, you need to download it. Once downloaded, go to the main menu of Thunderbird application (the three stripes in the upper right corner), select “Add-ons” in the drop-down, then “Extensions” and a new dialog will open. There type “ImportExportTools” in the search box and the ImportExportTools plugin should appear. Select it and then click on the ‘Install’. Add-on will download and you will be prompted to restart the application. When add-on is installed and application has restarted, you will have a new option by right clicking on an email: «Save the selected messages». It will allow you to save the emails that you select in different formats (EML, HTML, plain text, CSV and Mbox).

As you can see, it is a matter of choosing the type of backup that best suits what you want. In particular, the latter option is the most expedited and automated way of doing this task, since you can backup emails to a file format of your choice. In addition you can select the emails to export and then delete them from the server so they no longer take space.