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Read time 8 minutes

Summary : Backing up IMAP emails in Outlook is possible, but there are superior options available, such as Kernel IMAP Backup. This tool offers comprehensive support for various email services, including Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, G Suite, Amazon WorkMail, AOL, Zimbra, and even Novell GroupWise, Lotus Notes, Exchange, and Office 365 accounts. With Kernel IMAP Backup, you have the flexibility to save your backup IMAP emails in multiple formats, including PST, EML, MSG, MHT, HTML, DOC, DOCX, and PDF. Let’s explore its features further.

Whether you’re a working professional or a self-employed individual, email plays a crucial role in your work-related communications. Email clients such as MS Outlook streamline and simplify email activities for both individuals and organizations.

IMAP serves as the standard protocol for synchronizing emails on the server with your email client. With IMAP, you can view message subjects and bodies within your email client, and you have the flexibility to configure your email client on various digital devices to access your emails seamlessly.

IMAP provides the flexibility to manage your emails by moving or deleting them without the need to download them onto your system. Any changes made on one device will automatically synchronize with all other connected devices. However, like any digital data, IMAP data is susceptible to various threats. Therefore, establishing a routine backup is a crucial method to ensure the security of your mailboxes. But the question remains: Do you know how to back up your IMAP data from Outlook?

Understanding IMAP:

There are various methods for accessing your emails stored on an email server, including IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and POP (Post Office Protocol) for handling incoming messages, as well as SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) for managing outgoing emails (both sending and receiving).

Specifically focusing on IMAP, it serves as a standardized email retrieval protocol that acts as an intermediary or bridge between the email server and your email client. When you attempt to access your emails from any device, IMAP facilitates this access without actually downloading the emails from the server. Instead, it establishes a connection between your email client and the server. Messages are not automatically downloaded to your device; they only get downloaded when you click on them. Likewise, attachments are also not automatically downloaded but require your action to be accessed.

Expanding on your information, the JSON Meta Application Protocol (JMAP) is utilized by webmail clients as an alternative to IMAP and POP for email retrieval. Additionally, MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is a standard employed for sending attachments in email messages.

Furthermore, MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface) is a proprietary client protocol developed by Microsoft. It is specifically employed in Microsoft mail systems and email client applications such as Microsoft Outlook for accessing Microsoft Exchange email servers.

Different IMAP email clients.

Email applications, also known as email clients or email readers, and often referred to as Message User Agents (MUAs), are various terms used interchangeably to describe software tools that enable users to access and efficiently manage their email communications. When it comes to IMAP email clients designed for Windows, some notable options include Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, Mailbird, eM Client, Windows Mail, The Bat, Kiwi for Gmail, IBM Lotus Notes, Mozilla, and more.

Why is IMAP Backup Necessary for a Business?

The business is committed to preserving all of its data, regardless of its level of importance. Older data may be transitioned to a designated archive folder, thereby establishing a distinct repository for archival purposes. Data loss poses a potential risk arising from various factors, including application crashes, malware or virus attacks, physical computer damage, data theft through phishing attacks, or inadvertent user mishandling.

Preserving the organization’s data is an immensely valuable undertaking, as the failure to do so can lead to disruptions in business processes when data loss occurs and no backup is accessible for recovery.

Backup IMAP Data from Outlook

When configuring Outlook with an IMAP account, it creates a local copy of IMAP mailboxes in OST format. This OST file allows users to work with their mailboxes even when offline. However, if the OST file becomes corrupted or is accidentally deleted, you will lose access to your IMAP data until you can reestablish a connection with the mail server. Therefore, it is essential to regularly back up your IMAP data to prevent such issues.

Here we have mentioned some methods which you can use to backup IMAP mailboxes in Outlook.

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Manual Method to Backup IMAP Account Configured with Outlook

An expedient way to back up IMAP emails is by utilizing the ‘Import/Export’ feature in Outlook for Microsoft 365, Outlook 2021, 2019, 2016, and 2013. The Import/Export wizard simplifies the process of converting an OST file into PST format. To guide you through the process of backing up IMAP emails, follow the steps below:

  1. Open (Outlook 2013 & later) and go to the File tab.
  2. Now, select Open & Export and click Import/Export.select Open and Export and click Import/Export
  3. The Import and Export Wizard will appear on the screen. Select Export to a file and click Next.
    Import and Export Wizard
  4. Select Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next.Select Outlook Data File (.pst)
  5. Now, select the IMAP folder you want to backup and click Next.select the IMAP folder

    Note: With this method, you can backup only one mailbox at a time

  6. Select the location where you want to save this file and click Finish.Select the location to save the file

While manually backing up IMAP mailboxes using this method is possible, there are inherent complications, including the risk of data loss if an error occurs. Therefore, it is advisable to consider alternative methods for backing up IMAP mailboxes.

Complications with Manual Methods

At first glance, the manual method for backing up IMAP emails appears cost-effective, as it is free of charge. However, as time goes on, it becomes evident that this approach comes with several limitations. Let’s explore the drawbacks of manual methods:

  • Getting the mailbox data from the server is a very time-consuming process.
  • There are no advanced options, such as the filter option.
  • Manual methods may not work for all versions of Outlook.
  • The whole process takes a long time and needs to be repeated many times.
  • Technical expertise is required to perform this process. Human error is also possible, as is the risk of data loss.

Expert Recommendation is Kernel IMAP Backup

Backing up IMAP mailboxes using Outlook can indeed be a secure and dependable method. However, it is important to note that if the process is interrupted for any reason, such as Outlook becoming unresponsive or system issues, there is a risk of data loss. That’s why an automated solution is often considered the superior approach for IMAP mailbox backups. With automation, even if your system unexpectedly shuts down, your data remains protected and intact.

If you prefer not to rely on MS Outlook for backing up IMAP mailboxes, there is an excellent alternative available – Kernel IMAP Backup software. This powerful tool enables you to back up IMAP mailboxes without the need for any third-party applications. Moreover, it offers the convenience of setting filters on IMAP mailboxes for selective email backups. Let’s delve into the operational process of this remarkable utility.

  1. Install and launch the software on your system.
  2. On launching the software, click the Add button to add an IMAP account.
    Click Add button to add IMAP account
  3. Add the credentials for the IMAP account with the server name and port number, and then click Add.
    Add IMAP credentials
  4. The IMAP account will be added to the screen, click the Set filter and Migrate.
    Set filter and migrate
    Note: You can backup multiple IMAP accounts with this software.
  5. In the next step, apply the filters to the IMAP mailbox based on your requirements and click I am OK Start Migration.
    Click I am OK Start Migration
  6. The Save As pop-up will appear on the screen, select the specific format in which you want to save the file and click OK. By Default, the PST file option is selected.
    Select file format to save
  7. Now, browse and select the folders where you want to save this file and click OK.
    Select location to save data
  8. The software will start to back up the IMAP mailbox; once it is complete, a notification will display on the screen, click OK to end the process.

If you want to save this report in CSV format, then click Save report to CSV. And that’s how you can easily backup IMAP mailboxes.

Video Tutorial: Backup IMAP Mailboxes to PST Using Kernel IMAP Backup Tool



Manually backing up IMAP server emails is achievable through various email service providers and clients like Gmail, Outlook, Thunderbird, and more, using built-in settings. However, it’s important to note that not all of these platforms offer dedicated IMAP server email backup settings.

Today, we’ve delved into a comprehensive guide on backing up IMAP emails using MS Outlook, as well as discovered the merits of the Kernel IMAP Backup Tool for efficiently backing up multiple IMAP mailboxes. In this era of growing digital threats, safeguarding against data loss is of paramount importance. Creating backups of your emails serves as a crucial precautionary measure to mitigate the potential impact of unforeseen issues or disasters.
Go ahead and start backing up those IMAP emails to keep your data safe and secure.