The episode of Sex and the City where Carrie loses all of her data simply because she didn’t backup is everyone’s worst nightmare, but backing up your email when it’s cloud-based, like Gmail, isn’t something most people think of doing. People often ask, “Why backup email if it’s in the cloud?”

The answer is – nothing is 100% safe from accidental deletion, and backing up Gmail with an email desktop client to your hard drive is one of the most effective ways to create a solid backup of Gmail. Standalone software is a great option too, but a full desktop client can give you several more options.

Our guide will outline how to backup Gmail and create a local backup of data using three of the best desktop email clients available – Windows Mail, Thunderbird and eM Client.

Before You Begin: Understanding 2-Step Verification

Note: You need to read this only if you have enabled 2 step verification for your account. If not you can skip to the next section.

Before you begin using an email desktop client, it’s essential to adjust certain settings so you can bypass Google’s 2-step verification, which can inhibit you from using an email desktop client.

For those not in the know: 2-step verification is the method Google uses to verify your identity before letting you log in, by either texting or calling you with a single-use verification code. This feature can be activated in your account and requires you to enter a code each time you log in. Google also uses this system to verify it is you in the event of a lost username or password.


One of the downfalls of 2-step verification, however, is that it isn’t recognized by email desktop clients. Instead, you must create a password that you will use just once when logging into your client so you prove your identity.

To get this password, log in to Gmail on the “Account Settings” page by navigating to “Security > Authorizing applications and sites.” On this page, scroll to the bottom of the section to “Application-specific passwords.” This is where you enter the name of the desktop client you want to use and click “Generate password.”


Next, “Copy” the 16-digit password and open your email client. “Paste” the password field when signing in, and the client will remember the password so you never have to enter it again.

Now let’s get to understand how desktop email clients can be used as a Gmail backup tool to create a backup of your entire email account.

How to Backup Your Gmail Account With Mailbird

Mailbird is our top pick when it comes to the best email desktop clients for Windows to back up your Gmail data. Mailbird makes an easy task of syncing and managing all your emails and contacts from multiple accounts on a single platform. It can also turn your email client into a work of art and fun to use with its tons of free color themes.  And then there is app integration for Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Dropbox, Google Calendar and more. Mailbird doesn’t cease to surprise us. 

Note: Similar process can be followed for other email service providers like Yahoo! Mail or Outlook, etc.

Now take a look at its backup feature – we have outlined the steps to help you sync your email data to Mailbird and a have a backup in case you accidentally delete your messages or lose your account to something like a data breach. 

To begin with, download and install Mailbird on your PC. Once done, launch the email client and there you see Mailbird asking you permission whether you want to receive future updates or not.

Next, enter your name and email ID that you want to sync to Mailbird. 


Mailbird has some default settings for you, either you can go on with that and click on Continue, or go to Edit server settings to see if you have some other inputs.


Let’s see what happens when you go to Edit server settings. For a Google user, settings will look like what we see in the image below and you can change it if you want. Read further to know about some basic authentication options. 


Under Authentication, you have two options to choose from the dropdown menu; Google OAuth 2.0 and Username and Password


Although going with Google OAuth 2.0 option, when you are Google user is a much easier, convenient and time-saving option, you can also opt for the Username and password option. You will need your 16-digit password (This will be the Application Specific Password that is created for email clients) which you created in the “Before You Begin” section above. 


If you selected Google OAuth 2.0, you don’t need any 16-digit password to use Mailbird with your Gmail account, instead, you can directly allow Mailbird to access your account details. To do so, click on Allow


Both with Google OAuth 2.0 and Username and password sign-in options, you enter the following wizard. This only comes when you are signing into Mailbird for the first time.


Connect your favorite apps if you have any. Once you have selected the apps, click on Continue


You can add up more email accounts so that it becomes a breeze to handle multiple accounts emails from a single desktop client. You can always close the wizard and select any options you want manually, later. 

When you open Mailbird, on the left side of the windowpane you see the list of all your emails. Mailbird consistently syncs your Gmail messages to Mailbird so that you don’t miss any important mail in real-time. 


Taking a Backup of Gmail via Mailbird

If you want to have a full backup of your email account, you need to opt for Mail Pro. Taking a backup of emails with Mailbird settings is not only easy but a safe option when you are afraid of losing your important emails. The process is simple and it just takes a couple of steps to perform a full backup. First, make sure the Mailbird app is closed on your system. 

Now open your File Explorer and go to C:\Users\”your user name”\AppData\Local and from there copy the Mailbird folder. 

  • If you don’t find Appdata on your PC with the given path, open the Run box with Windows key + R and enter Appdata, hit Enter. 
  • Here you see the Appdata folder. Next, enter into Local data folder and copy the Mailbird folder (this you will need further).  

If you have got a new PC, install Mailbird on that. Now jump to the same location as mentioned above. To get all the emails on your new PC, paste or overwrite the existing Mailbird folder with the one you saved from your older computer. And just like that you will have Mailbird with all the existing settings and emails on your new device.  

Backup Your Gmail Account With Windows Mail

Windows Mail, a client included on all Windows OS operating systems, is a solid option to use for backing up Gmail. But to use it, you first need to make sure your Gmail account is enabled as an “IMAP” account.

To do this, go to the “gear icon” in the top-right corner of Gmail and select “Settings.” From here, just click the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab and navigate to the bottom of the tab to where it says, “IMAP Access.”


Click “Enable IMAP” and then “Save changes” at the bottom of the tab. Gmail can now communicate with Windows Mail.

Next, open Windows Mail to add your Gmail login information. Once Windows Mail is open, go to the “Accounts” tab so you can add a new email account, and click the “Email” icon to open the dialog window.


In this window, enter your Gmail login credentials, then click “Next.”


A success window will appear and click “Finish.”

Next, a login screen will load asking for your one-time password to bypass the 2-step verification process, as covered above. Enter this password, and Windows Mail will automatically begin copying/moving the contents of your Gmail account to Windows Live.


Backup Your Gmail Account With Thunderbird

Thunderbird meanwhile is a desktop email client created by the developers of Firefox, and it’s a solid option for backing up Gmail. This client is a Firefox add-on that works in the same manner as Windows Mail.


After installing this add-on here, it’s time to enter your Gmail login credentials. To do this, open Thunderbird and it will ask for your credentials before letting you enter the program.


Click “Continue” to finish adding your Gmail login information, and another portion of the window will load, verifying your IMAP configurations. If everything looks good, click “Done.”


To begin backing up your Gmail account with Thunderbird, click “Inbox” in the left column of Thunderbird.


After clicking “Inbox,” all of the emails in your account will appear in Thunderbird, displaying the oldest emails in your inbox first.


Also, any sub-folders you’ve created in Gmail will be displayed in the left column.


Backup Your Gmail Account With eM Client

Another desktop email client that’s free to use is eM Client, a lesser-known option that’s just as good as Windows Mail and Thunderbird. To use this client, you must first download it here.


Once it’s installed, open eM Client, then go to the “Tools” menu at the top of the main user screen, and select “Accounts.”


A “New Account” dialog window will load where you can enter your Gmail login credentials. After entering your information, click the green “Start Now” button to begin backing up your account.


Next, an “Account details” screen will load where you can edit the official name tied to your account in eM Client, then click “Next.”


Lastly, eM Client will verify which aspects of your Gmail you want to backup – mail, calendar, and contacts or chat information. Select “Mail” and anything else you’d like to backup, then click “Finish.”


Within moments, it will download emails from Gmail along with other content, with your sub-folders accessible in the left column of the application.



While you can just as easily backup your Gmail using a standalone software option, or even using an online application like Backupify, email desktop clients are loaded with an array of advanced email features, which is a nice thing to have for email power users.

All three clients are equally easy to use as long as you remember the step of securing a one-time 2-step verification password. They will allow you to export all Gmail emails and store the entirety of your Gmail account safely on your PC for as long as you need it to, backing it up again whenever you load the application.

To learn how to backup Gmail into the cloud, read up on a very cool application called Backupify.

(Article updated on August 21, 2019)