Manage email backups better - drag and drop them to folders
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
You may have noticed from my other articles and blog posts that I am no longer a fan of email clients (programs that "do" email for you).
All of them store your emails in some form of database or proprietary structure that quite often makes backing them up very difficult.
These email databases tend to just get bigger and bigger and I have to tell you that massively oversized Outlook PST files have caused me, and many other people, many, many problems.
Once your email database gets huge, everything we try to do to fix it takes ages. Everything; backing up, moving, tidying, exporting, compressing/compacting, fixing etc. etc.
If you are an email hoarder you need to stop and check/fix your behavior.
When did you last look at an email from a year ago let alone one from 5 or more years ago (which is a rough average of how long people keep emails)?
Do you really need all those thousands of emails? Really? The answer really is NO.
I know you are keeping them "just in case" but I bet pound to the dollar that you don't really need even 1% of those emails.
The problem is exacerbated by not knowing how to manage what emails you keep and how to fully delete any you don't want.
Outlook is a pig. even if you delete many, many emails its data file will remain huge unless you manually perform a compression.
When I get the chance with my customers afflicted this way, I advise them to move to a strategy where the truly important emails, say those pertaining to a client relationship, are copied as required to an appropriately named folder in your PCs Documents folder.
For example, I may have a client folder called:
Documents \ Clients \ Roger Stairs Building \ Emails
Whenever I get an email from Roger I drag and drop it from Outlook to his email folder (as shown in the image at the top of this article).
This process creates copies of the individual email/s and puts them into that documents folder.
So when "Documents" gets backed up, so does the emails for my clients.
If Outlook crashes, its database gets corrupted or fails for some reason I can look at those emails without it.
NOTE: Opening an email from a folder will open it in Outlook (or your email program of choice) if it is working and available. Opening an Outlook email with "something else" is doable but as you may expect what you see outside of Outlook may be different than you expect.
With those emails copied to be outside of Outlook you can then be more ruthless about deleting them from within Outlook.
If you email program only contains what "isn't important" then you'll find it won't need to be backed up and it won't bloat and cause you problems.
This strategy may even save you time and effort as many people duplicate their documents folder structure in their email client so they can find things in a comfortable way.
With the emails actually in the documents folder you no longer have to maintain a parallel set of folders inside and outside your email program.
Anyway, it is a simple thing to do that not many people realise is an option.
I quite like the idea of just grabbing what I want, putting it where it is needed and leaving everything else behind :-)