Email Import/Export Solutions

The web is full of free solutions for exporting mail but the pitfalls are rarely mentioned. This page lists the advantages and disadvantages of various methods and explains why using Aid4Mail is usually better.

There are three types of methods you can use to transfer email:

  1. the integrated Import feature of your mail program;
  2. one or more free programs/services to create an importable format;
  3. a commercial solution like Aid4Mail.

The Pitfalls

The main problems encountered with free mail export solutions are that they can be extremely technical, time-consuming, and not very accurate. They may work fine for simple text-based email messages, but can demonstrate severe problems if messages contain any of the following:

  • File attachments
  • Embedded images and other media
  • Diacritical marks (like é, è, ç)
  • Non-Latin characters
  • Digitally signed emails (signed MIME)

To make matters worse, these problems may not be immediately evident because they only appear in certain email messages, and may be discovered once it is already too late and the originals have been deleted.

The screenshot on the left, below, shows some of these issues after a conversion from Outlook using the Thunderbird import tool. Note the problems with accented characters, the misplaced image, and the altered Chinese attachment name. On the right is the email message as it should be displayed, after conversion with Aid4Mail.

From Outlook using Thunderbird’s import tool.
From Outlook to Thunderbird using Aid4Mail.

Read on to see which mail conversion solution best suit your needs...

1. Integrated Import/Export Feature of Mail Program

This is often the obvious choice for users of mail programs that support the files to import. However, few realize that these integrated conversion tools are less than perfect and can sometimes result in the loss of valuable email information.


  •  Free.
  •  Easy to use (when it works).
  •  Usually fast (for limited number of accounts).
  •  In some cases can import address books and account settings.

Disadvantages may include:

  • Limited import/export options:
    • no support for your source files or target format,
    • cannot choose which mail folders or files to import,
    • cannot choose where to save imported mail folders,
    • cannot be automated (critical for large scale migrations).
  • Expects source mail in a specific location.
  • Fails to work if a special file is missing.
  • Poor conversion leaves certain types of email messages unreadable.
  • Loss of mail information such as:
    • email attachments,
    • inserted contents like pictures,
    • original message date,
    • status information (read, replied, flagged).

See some examples of poor email conversion.

2. Other Free Conversion Methods

This solution is often suggested on blogs and forums, and suits technical people who know what they are doing and don’t mind spending a lot of time over their conversion. It’s typically a manual process that involves using several free tools or services; each cover a small part of the conversion process to create files that can be imported by your email program.


  •  Free.

Disadvantages may include:

  • Time consuming.
  • Difficult to follow.
  • Poor conversion leaves certain types of email messages unreadable.
  • Loss of mail information such as:
    • email attachments,
    • inserted contents like pictures,
    • original message date,
    • status information (read, replied, flagged),
    • folder hierarchy.

See some examples of poor email conversion.

Using a free solution will save you money, but is it worth all the disadvantages? You may lose important mail data and only discover the problem weeks or years later when it’s too late.

3. Aid4Mail Software Solution

Aid4Mail is based on years of expertise in the field of email processing. It is suitable for both small and large scale mail conversion projects, from home use to large corporate migrations.


  •  Fast.
  •  Easy to use.
  •  Many conversion options, including:
    • choose which mail folders or files to export,
    • choose where to save exported mail folders.
  •  Supports over 40 email programs and file formats:
    • Office Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Outlook Express,
    • Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, Apple Mail,
    • Outlook MSG and PST files, DBX, mbox, EML,
    • IMAP accounts, Gmail,, Yahoo! Mail,
    • and more...
  •  Business editions can convert mail to special formats like PDF, CSV, and XML.
  •  Supports local mail files that are disconnected from their email program (for example unmounted PST files).
  •  Handle mail files on external media (CD, DVD, USB drives).
  •  More accurate than competing solutions (including commercial ones).


  • Not free (price starts at just $29.95 US)

If you need an easy and reliable way to:

then the wait is over. Get Aid4Mail now and start migrating your email today.

Try Aid4Mail for Free

Take advantage of our free trial and start using Aid4Mail today. There’s no sign-up form to download Aid4Mail and you can run it in trial mode for as long as you need. This way you can verify that Aid4Mail is fully compatible with your system and does what you require.

Ready to Buy Now? It’s Quick and Easy

We offer Aid4Mail licenses that cover many different uses at very competitive prices—as low as $29.95 US. Click on the button below that best matches your needs…

Email Migration
I need to export my personal mail (or less than 20 people's mail)
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Large-Scale Migration
I need to convert 20 or more people's mail. More info…
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If you need a fast and accurate email conversion tool, you can trust Aid4Mail to do the job for you. Get your license now and start exporting your email today, or test drive Aid4Mail for free in trial mode and see for yourself how well it works.