What are good ways to archive old email?
November 8, 2012 12:02 PM   Subscribe

What are good ways to archive old email?

I have a bunch of email in a bunch of accounts. Most of it is on IMAP servers. Is there a good tech solution out there to get the 5000+ messages out of my inbox and into a separate archive?

I'd love to simply offload it all, empty my inbox, and still have the capacity to search and access those old messages when I occasionally need them. Putting them in a dummy gmail account (kellybird.archive@gmail.com, for instance) is an option... though I am not even sure how to do that.

Where do you keep your old email? What would you recommend?

[I checked past AskMefis and didn't find the solution. If this has been answered before, feel free to point me in that direction. Thanks!]
posted by kellybird to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you want to be able to search them from anywhere, then a Gmail account is probably the answer.

The easiest way to do this is to get a decent mail client (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, etc. — but not Microsoft Outlook) and set up all your accounts in it, via IMAP. Then you can drag the messages from the old accounts into the new Gmail one. I would sort them into folders, which will become Tags in Gmail's web interface.

That would be what I'd suggest. You probably also want to back them all up somewhere outside of Gmail, which you can pretty easily do using Apple or Thunderbird once you copy them all, since part of the copy operation will also involve pulling all the messages down locally.

The reason you don't want to use Outlook for this isn't because I'm hating on Microsoft, it's because Outlook's IMAP support is terrible and will often crash in the middle of an IMAP operation involving a large number of messages.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:09 PM on November 8, 2012

Best answer: I would forward all mail (you can do this in the Gmail settings - see here) to your one main account that you still use, and then archive it all.

Note that when you say you want an "empty inbox" - for me that means all mail archived, not in some separate account. Maybe you are thinking of it differently.
posted by amaire at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2012

Best answer: Don't forward your e-mail anywhere: you'll lose all of the metadata that you need to keep the e-mail useful - who sent it, when, etc.

Setup gmail to collect your e-mail using imap. Assign a tag to that e-mail, e.g. imap-companyname.

If you're feeling like it you can then backup your gmail account once you're done.

posted by devnull at 1:55 AM on November 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all, just what I was looking for. All 3 the best answer.
posted by kellybird at 7:33 PM on November 9, 2012

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