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Archive your e-mail from almost any account

MailStore Home works with Gmail, Outlook, and others to archive your messages from multiple accounts. It can then display those archives in an interface that reads like your Outlook in-box, but searches much faster.

I have thousands of e-mail messages in my corporate Outlook in-box, and thousands more in Gmail and in my ancient Hotmail account. MailStore Home is a free program that can archive them all locally, and display those archives in an interface that reads like your Outlook in-box.

Why use it? You can clear away old messages and attachments, but easily search to find them again when that inevitable moment arrives. Until universal offline in-boxes like Yahoo's Zimbra Desktop start addressing consumers on a wider scale, MailStore Home is also a good way to read mail offline in areas of spotty Wi-Fi, or to use as a de facto message backup.

MailStore Home

MailStore Home's search pane includes attachments and repeat queries.

(Credit: CNET/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt)

MailStore Home can archive a pretty impressive list of accounts and protocols, including Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, Microsoft Exchange, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Gmail, Windows Live Mail, IMAP, POP3. It also supports .EML files. It largely resembles Microsoft Outlook's layout with a side bar on the left--complete with folder tree and search field--and a large reading pane on the right. There are also some small navigational icons along the top that you can use to jump to archiving, burning archives to disk, advanced search, and tools.

The program's management is straightforward. Buttons on the start screen replicate the navigational icons up top, and there are also some stats, like your oldest and newest messages and the total size of your archive. When you archive an in-box, a wizard walks you through special configuration steps and lets you enter folders to archive or exclude if you want some backed up, but not all. MailStore Home skips your spam, trash, and junk folders by default, and it checks for duplicate messages while going about its business.

E-mail search is one feature of note. Using the advanced search screen, you can drill down to specifics--dates, folders, even the contents of e-mail attachments. You can also search for messages with or without attachments, and save queries to rerun the report at a later time. MailStore Home supports Boolean search terms. When you've found your message, you'll have management options like opening, saving, and exporting. Search was speedy and accurate in our tests. Though processing took a few long seconds, we were able to reply to archived Gmail messages via Outlook.

The freeware version for consumers doesn't do it all. There's no auto-archiving or scheduling for starters, so archiving is a manual activity. Initial scanning also takes a long time, and subsequent archives of the same in-box (click "run" to rearchive) start over from scratch instead of offering you the option to pick up from the most recent message date. We'd like to see more, and more nimble, filters on that left sidebar, like to filter only e-mails with attachments. MailStore Home also restricts you to three account profiles, which isn't especially useful if you've got more active accounts than that. Despite these drawbacks, MailStore Home offers a fine free solution for storing e-mail from multiple in-boxes and searching through the archives.

Related story: Three killer Outlook add-ons for office workers

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