21 de febrero de 2008

ways to preserve e-mails for posterity

In this short note I explain how to save e-mails in electronic form and on paper.

In the course of the years, I sent and received a large number of e-mails, from and to various e-mail accounts (in my case, yahoo and gmail, my former university´s account, and remaining mail in microsoft outlook installed on my computer). Cyberspace and electronic mail is volatile. Closing an account, or a computer crash or theft, might deprive you of many messages, including photos and documents, you want to keep for your personal archive. After some pondering, I decided I want to have:

1. an electronic backup on dvd
and 2. a paper copy of my e-mail conversations.

Here is how I went about it:

step 1: uniting all mail in the outlook programme
For this, I arranged for download of all mail from my yahoo and gmail account to the microsoft outlook programme already installed on my computer.
For gmail, this is easy as it allows for pop3 download. In the gmail prefences, simply enable pop download, and then follow instructions for configuration of your Outlook. Read here how to do it.
For yahoo, in principle in the free version pop3 download is not possible. But there is ways around it. Download a nice little programme called YPOPs and you can download your yahoo mail to Outlook with ease.

step 2: grouping e-mail into years
(if you archive little mail or few messages only, you can skip this step)
With all mail arriving in the Outlook inbox, I started to make subfolder for the year 2007, 2006, etc. I did this as the download went on, the mass of incoming mail being considerable. (In addition, I divided the yearly folders in "mail received" and "mail sent", but this is all up to your preference. The important thing is to have them in one folder).

step3: copying the e-mails into "normal" folders on your computer
In your documents, make a folder to copy your e-mail to. Then you mark the messages you want to copy, and drag them in this new folder. For excellent instructions, see Moby´s advice on this page

With this step, aim 1 is achieved: you have an electronic backup of all your e-mail on dvd. Advantage: all attachments are preserved and can be retrieved from here in case of need.

step3bis: creating a text-file from your outlook e-mails
This will allow you to have all your e-mail conversations transformed in a single text document which you can read in, and print as hard copy from Word (or other software). For excellent instructions, see here.

That´s it, have fun!

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