Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Hotmail accounts are hacked into and lost every day. I'll review a couple of techniques that ensure you won't lose email or contacts if it happens.
How do I backup my hotmail (safely) plus the contacts.
With all the theft and hacks into Hotmail accounts that I hear about every day, I do wish that it were easier to backup your Hotmail account - particularly your contacts.
Not that it's particularly difficult, it's just not particularly easy either.
And it's certainly not particularly obvious.
I'll cover a couple of alternative approaches.
Windows Live Mail is the free downloadable email program that effectively replaces Outlook Express (and Windows Mail from Windows Vista).
Not unsurprisingly Windows Live Mail does a pretty good job of connecting to Windows Live Hotmail.
Download Windows Live Mail, free, from Microsoft.
Configure your email account with your Windows Live Hotmail email address and password, and you're done.
Well, not quite... there's one more important step:
As you can see by the list on the left side, Windows Live Mail is configured for my Hotmail account. In order to make sure that everything is synchronized, click on the Sync menu item. (It may be hidden - make sure the window is wide enough to show the entire menu bar, or click on the >> at the end of the menu bar to expose the options that don't fit.)
Sync essentially ensures that your PC and your Hotmail account are in sync by downloading (or uploading) all messages and the contents of your contact list.
In fact, if you like Windows Live Mail, you can use it pretty interchangeably with the Web interface. (I've also heard that printing is significantly more reliable in the Windows Live Mail application.)
If it ever comes up, you can find all of your email on your PC stored as individual ".eml" messages in the Windows Live Mail storage folder. You can find that by clicking on Tools, Options, Advanced, Maintenance, Store Folder.... That'll display something similar to this:
Don't let what you see fool you - the path is actually longer than can be displayed. You can click on the path in the message and scroll to the right with arrow keys, or use your mouse to select the entire string. On my machine that location is:
C:\Documents and Settings\LeoN\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail
Note that this is only your email and folders. Contacts are (apparently) stored in a nearby "Windows Live Contacts" folder - in hidden folders at that. While you do have them stored in the Windows Live Contacts database on your own machine, it's still in a proprietary format. If you want something else use the export option on the Windows Live Contacts File menu.
Windows Live Mail is perhaps the simplest solution in that in one installation you get access to all of your email and contacts on your own machine, albeit in the Windows Live Mail interface and proprietary data storage.
A somewhat more flexible alternative that I've been recommending for some time is to use your favorite desktop email program, and use Hotmail's POP3 settings to download your Hotmail inbox to your own PC. Most will also allow you to specify that message should be "left on server" in an advanced configuration so that your email remains in the Hotmail web interface.
The good news is that you get to use your own email program - whichever one you like. I happen to use Thunderbird.
The bad news is that this does not capture any folders other than the inbox.
Unless you stop using the web interface. By that I mean use your email program not just as a backup of your Hotmail, but use it to send and receive email in lieu of the web interface. That way your folders, sent mail and whatever else are kept on your PC, and are yours to backup and have no matter what happens to your Hotmail account.
Naturally, that's my preferred approach.
When people lose a Hotmail account, which happens too often, they're often most distressed by no longer having access to their contact list.
If you do nothing else, I strongly suggest that you export your contact list periodically.
In Hotmail, click on the contacts link at the lower left of the Hotmail page:
On the resulting Contacts page, click on Manage, and then Export:
You may then have to complete a CAPTCHA ("type the characters you see") - this is done to thwart automated malicious programs that might try to get your contacts.
This will download all your contacts into a single file in comma separated format that can be read into programs like Excel, or imported into another Hotmail or other email account or program.