It’s unfortunate for 21st century humankind that email has remained as form of communication. If there was ever a killer app for the internet, it’s email. It’s the app that kills by reducing the time we have to live, raising blood pressure and anxiety, and quietly putting people into a negative mood for which returning to normal remains a challenge.
So, why do we need to backup our email messages? Because. Because, well, you know; archive, audit trail, a need to remember something important. Most of the popular email accounts these days are IMAP protocol which means messages can remain stored on the original email server, but archived and organized on our Macs, or other devices. For Mac users terrified of losing email messages, there are a few backup options, including Horcrux Email Backup.
Horcrux supports IMAP only, so if you’re email account is POP only, you’ll need a different solution. IMAP also means it should work with iCloud, Gmail, Exchange, and most other IMAP setups. It handles multiple IMAP accounts, backs up messages incrementally after the first backup, and can even archived backed up email to move from one device to another. Messages can even be exported as .mbox format for greater mobility.
Horcrux runs in the background and backs up email messages automatically. Setup is simple enough; just follow the account settings. Browsing stored messages and even restoring messages is simple, too. Everything else is not.
Through the years– I have some email messages dating well into the past century– I’ve tried every email backup system available or worthy on the Mac and haven’t found one that works much better than Time Machine (which has it’s own restore issues), or simply archiving messages I want to keep inside a set of folders in Mail, and then backing up the entire Mac to a separate external disk (or, multiples).
The beauty of using IMAP is that messages can remain on the original email server, therefore, available to be viewed on multiple devices. The problem with IMAP is that deleting a message on one deletes it on the other devices unless it is saved in a folder somewhere which often makes the saved message inaccessible on other devices.
For all the benefits, Horcrux doesn’t solve that dilemma, mostly because IMAP usage has many iterations; for example, standards for organizing messages in folders are not the same for Gmail as for iCloud as for Exchange as for most other IMAP email systems, which makes it difficult for a single email app to keep track of messages and folders across multiple devices.
So, in the end, I’m still looking for a good backup system that works better than Time Machine on a central Mac, and synced IMAP accounts on every other device. Synchronizing email folders and archiving messages across multiple devices remains a problem without a solution.