The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
This is Part #2 of a 2-part series. Part #1 is still available at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=41982.
Part #1 of this article described two reasons why we might want to archive all our email messages, both sent and received. One reason is genealogy-related, the other is not. The second part of this article describes some of the methods that can be used to save your email messages for years, possibly for decades.
Of course, if you use Gmail, as described in Part #1 of this article, you already have the capability to save messages for several years. Gmail offers 15 gigabytes of free storage across Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos for new users and even that limit can easily be increased with various free upgrades that Google offers from time to time.
However, saving old email messages on Gmail is dependent upon Google’s policies to keep preserving those messages. While Google has proven to be very reliable in the past, there is nothing to guarantee that messages will be preserved forever. Other email services typically store much less than Google, and they also offer no guarantees how long the messages will be available to you.
Most computer professionals will tell you that any important information you wish to preserve needs to have at least two copies (and even more than two is better), and the copies need to be saved in at least two different locations. Saving the messages at Gmail.com or another email service counts as one copy, and that copy is saved in the cloud. However, you should also store a second copy of every message, either stored in your local computer’s hard drive or perhaps at a different location in the cloud. Either you can adapt several email programs to accomplish that, or you can use a product designed especially for archiving email messages.
Google provides great cloud-based services, but it is important to keep a local copy of your data. This ensures that you have your data even if your account is compromised, if Google has an outage, or if data goes missing from your account. The same is true for Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and most all other email services. You have a number of email archiving products to choose from, all of which will preserve thousands of messages on your local hard drive or to any other location you specify.
I find it easier and more efficient to use a program that is designed strictly for archival purposes, not a program that originally was designed as a general-purpose email program and then “force fit” for use as an archival program. I will first describe using standard email programs since they are more popular and many email users are already familiar with them. However, I will follow that with my preferred method: using a product that is designed primarily as an archival program.
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