Use Gmail to backup your existing email

Use Gmail to backup your existing email

Lifehacker reader Shannon wrote in with this “obvious once you’ve thought of it but always worth remembering” tip for backing up your email service:

Instead of using other software to back up your emails, why not let your existing email provider and Gmail do it for you? Just set up a Gmail account and call it something useful (maybe [your family name] [email protected]). Then configure your existing email provider to automatically forward a copy of every email you receive to this address. Most ISPs allow this functionality now — it is usually in the account control panel somewhere under the ’email setup’ section. Send a couple of tests to make sure it is working and you are on your way! No software to worry about or schedules to follow. Gmail’s storage is always on the increase, so you should never run out of room.

An added advantage of this approach is that you can use Gmail’s excellent search facilities to locate older mails, and apply filters if there’s routine mails from mailing lists you don’t want to back up. Got any other preferred backup strategies, or tips for getting this working with particular ISPs? Let us know in the comments. [Thanks Shannon!]


  • I’ve been routing all of my email addresses through a Gmail account for over three years and am only using 20% of my storage. A brilliant email archive.

  • This tip can be enhanced further by using Gmail’s SMTP server ( as your outgoing email server. That way not only are your incoming messages backed up and searchable, but anything you send is too!

  • Gmail is great, I archive all incoming mails and if I am out from the office I can just go online and reply back. Superior storage also with world class spam filter.

  • I use Thunderbird and have Gmail as IMAP. Which means when a note arrives to one of my other addresses that I want to preserve I paste it into my Gmail folders in Thunderbird.

  • One big advantage of this is accessiing your emails on the road even on your mobile phone! Now most phones can install the JAVA application that Gmail has available at which enables you to view and search emails on your phone over an internet connection. That way, when someone asks you something and you need to refer to an email.. you can 🙂

    More about this here:

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