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Software Guy There seems to be much confusion over email backups. And I unfortunately spend an inordinate amount of time trying to explain email backup to customer/clients. So I will do a short summary.
There are 2 basic formats for mail storage - .eml and .ost/.pst. Most 3rd party email programs use .eml while most businesses running their own exchange server use outlook and ost/pst. The outlook style files are stored in huge folders ending in .pst. The .eml are stored as numeric filenamed files(each message has its own file) in a regular folder SOMEWHERE on your computer - use windows explorer, search for *.eml and find it. Once you find it click on a file - it will launch your email client and you will see the file. Yes, it is there UNENCODED!! Anyone can read them.
Now, to back them up, you can simply copy the .pst files or the mail folder for .eml files to a backup and they are all safely backed up. EASY... and unsecure...
Now what if you want to view these files without using outlook or your mail client?? Again easy - just get a viewer. There are free ones and expensive ones. A good one is EML Viewer PRO which not only allows you to view your mail as you would see it in your mail program, but allows you to export the files to .doc or .txt or even .pdf. So try a free viewer or try a pro viewer/exporter and see what you get. Yes, the viewers are better than your mail programs! And yes, anybody who can access these files can read your email.
So just copying the .eml file sto another location (external HD) is suitable as a mail backup technique with an appropriate viewer.
Some people would like the files stored in a native windows format - no problem. EML Viewer Pro has a batch export option to export as a .txt, or .doc or even .pdf. Cheaper than the $69 EML Viewer Pro is Birdie EML to Document Converter, $29, and it will convert files in batch into doc files with links and pictures embedded or stored in a separate folder.
CoolUtils offers a few pricey variants, including Mail ConverterX which will perform a command line export of multiple mailboxes to .doc in a server scenario, or Email Converter Pro which runs as a viewer/batch converter.
Everdesk does a similar function online and stores the converted files in a designated folder on your computer. The overall net result is the same.
And surely you may find a few free eml or ost/pst converters.
Sooo, pick your poison - backup in native format and use an external viewer program, or convert to native windows file formats. That is it - no big mystery.
Oh yeah - as always - the disclaimer: There are a few mail programs that use proprietary formats - meaning they internally convert the .eml files. My suggestion if you accidentally find yourself using one of these - export them into a standard format and switch to an eml or ost/pst mail client.
I do hope this explanation helps clear up some of the mystery and confusion over email backups.
        Dec 22 2013 at 6:22pm
Tortuga Hi SoftwareGuy
Thank you for your post. Very informative
Would you have suggestions for good free viewers?
Only free ones I found is Kernel EML Viewer, Kernel Outlook PST Viewer.
Both by same author, last updated mid.2011, rated 3 stars on Softpedia. And user's reviews are not very encouraging at all :(
And as per Martin over @GHack's, no search features.
I was looking into Mailstore Home which is free & recommended by Gizmo
From your experience, what do you think?
Happy Christmas
        Dec 23 2013 at 11:57pm
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