Back up email


This article explains several options to backup your email to your computer.

The Webmail interface is a read-only interface for mail. This means you cannot download mail from Webmail. You need a client such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird.

Backing up your email using a POP connection

If you configure your email address within your client as a POP account, your email is automatically downloaded to your computer. This is how a POP configuration is meant to function.

View the following articles for information on how to configure your address as a POP connection.

This method requires the use of a third-party mail program configured as a POP3 connection to download the emails from DreamHost mail servers to be stored locally on your home computer.

No longer on the mail server

Since these pull the emails off the server, you will not see these messages any longer via an IMAP connection or through webmail. Once you’ve “popped” (downloaded) your email from a DreamHost server, backups for those messages are no longer available, so make sure you keep the backups stored on your computer at least until you upload them to a new mail server.

Inbox folder

The POP configuration will only download mail from the user’s Inbox folder. All other folders and contents within them must be moved to the inbox when you’re ready to download them. This will include folders such as ‘old-messages’, ‘Sent’, ‘Drafts’, and any other folders outside of the Inbox folder.


Here's a general workflow you could follow:

  1. Configure your email to use a POP connection.
  2. Email from only the Inbox is downloaded.
  3. On your computer, locate the directory where you mail client downloaded the emails.
  4. Create a folder on your computer called Inbox and drag those emails into the folder.
  5. For sub-folders, you'll need to move their content into the Inbox. For example, if you have a folder called 'Sent', move email from this folder into the Inbox so they are downloaded to your computer. You can then create another folder on your computer called 'Sent' and drag them into it.
  6. Do each sub-folder one at a time to avoid confusion.

The point to remember is that the POP configuration only downloads email from the Inbox directory, not any subdirectories.

Exporting email within Mac Mail

Mac Mail has an option to quickly download all email under a single address to your computer. View the following article for instructions.

Backing up your emails at another host

The process of backing up mail with another host may vary from host to host. The mail host you have now may have another solution to backing up emails from their servers. You'll need to contact your current mail host for details on how to backup the emails from their servers so you can import them to DreamHost.

See also

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