Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Downloading Hotmail messages to your computer is easy - or it's not - depending on your account. I look at some ways to download Hotmail messages, including the one I actually use myself.
How do I move all my Hotmail folders to my computer or external hard drive? Do I have to do each file/email individually? Or is there a way to save them all quickly.
I'm a little reluctant to answer this question. Why? Because it'll continue to make me sound like a broken record:
This is yet another reason not to use or rely on Hotmail for anything important.
It is possible, but it's not officially supported, and things that do work don't work as completely as you might like.
First, if you have a paid Hotmail account, then I suggest you simply configure Outlook Express to download your email. I haven't done this in some time, so I'm not sure whether you'll get any folders other than the inbox. I believe Outlook Express uses a private webmail protocol that might well support folders. One way or another you'll see them or you won't in Outlook Express.
Make sure that you then copy all your Hotmail folders to the personal folders on your machine - simply dragging and dropping the folders or the messages should do.
Now, if like most folks you're using the free version of Hotmail, you're in a more difficult situation.
Outlook Express support for free accounts is being phased out. You can try it, but I wouldn't expect it to work. If it does work, consider yourself very lucky and follow the instructions above for paid accounts. And do it soon, because your ability to read Hotmail in Outlook Express is going away sooner or later.
If that doesn't work, there are third party tools that might let you download your Hotmail inbox into your regular POP3 email client. I'll be honest - I don't trust most of them. Some claim to be free and are not. And in almost all cases, you need to provide your Hotmail user ID and password to a third party. That makes me really uncomfortable and sounds like a great scam for stealing your account.
But if they work, they are a solution. You can use them to download your inbox into your local machine's email program.
I stumbled onto a similar solution while researching this article that I feel better about. If you run Thunderbird as your email client, there's a webmail extension that allows you to download and send email through your webmail accounts, including Hotmail. It appears to be a fine solution. I trust it more than the previously noted similar solutions because it's coming from a source I trust: mozdev.org. Not that everything there is somehow beyond reproach, but it is public and open to peer and consumer scrutiny and gives me a slightly higher level of confidence that it's at least not some kind of scam.
Regardless of your approach, an important thing to remember is that if you've spent a lot of effort organizing folders and contacts in Hotmail, you may still be seriously out of luck. Many of the solutions here don't address the contact list at all and similarly handle only the inbox. You may be able to download messages by moving them back into your inbox on Hotmail and then downloading, but that's obviously less than ideal.
And finally - I really, really hope you're investigating this as a step on the road to moving your important email away from Hotmail. Or you're at least setting up a backup strategy that you'll adhere to religiously.
If you heard the repeated stories of delivery problems, disappearing folder and contacts, lost accounts and other problems, you'd understand why I sound like a broken record.