I know we’re a Mac forum, but I also know we’re inhabited by a number of people with a wide swath of experience.
I have a friend with a number of devices that’s getting more serious about backup, and we’re looking for a way for his desktop computer to automatically download and archive his IMAP messages.
If it were a Mac, we’d use something like Horcrux. And we found MailStore, which has a free manual version (not what we want), or a very expensive “pro” version, which is out of his budget.
Anybody have any advice?
The Thunderbird email client stores messages in standard MBOX files. I’d set up a copy and leave it running 24x7. If you actually want to remove messages from the server you can create a rule to move messages to a local folder.
If you Google “import MBOX windows” you will find guides to import MBOX into most Windows clients should that be needed. Whatever route you go I’d recommend testing recovery before committing to a method.
I use Postbox (on both Mac and Windows) which downloads the IMAP data. I keep three years of data on the IMAP server and download the rest.
Backups of the MBOX format files are done using Bvackup2 on Windows to my NAS.
Failing that, I’ve used Syncback in the past, but that saves them as EML files, which I’ve found recently to be a bigger PITA than I wanted.
I currently manually run the free version of MailStore once a week.
So interested in seeing what will be suggested here!
Part of the objective here is to be able to recover a message that was deleted after the trash bin has been emptied, if necessary, or to be able to recover if the IMAP server loses data.
I may be mistaken, but Thunderbird wouldn’t accomplish that, would it? It seems like that would just be another synced copy,
If you mirror the mail to local folder(s), restoring it could be accomplished by copying a message from the local folder to the original location.
For incoming mail a “match all messages” rule could copy messages to a local folder named, for example, Backup
For sent mail a second “After Sending” rule would do the same for sent messages.
Initially, your friend would need to manually copy all mail to the local “Backup” folder to get started.
Remind your friend to use to copy function when setting this up. Dragging messages from an IMAP folder to a local folder will remove them from the server.