Your Email is stored on your service provider servers. Usually their service is quite reliable and has a high availability. But the sheer magnitude of email and the number of accounts that large email providers manage, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, makes them encounter technical difficulties.
According to a Radicati Group report, the number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase from 3.3 billion accounts that existed in 2012 to over 4.3 billion by year-end 2016.
Also the estimated number of emails sent in one day in 2010 was around 294 billion according to another Radicati Group report from April 2010.
You should have another copy of your email messages available because:
1. Service Reliability
Even if your email provider has the best reliability, something can go wrong. On January 2014 Gmail users have reported having lost several messages due to a Gmail bug.
Google fixed the error but some emails went lost or were reported as spam.
2. The service can be suspended
You can be locked out of the service or the service can be suspended. This could happen for instance if someone hacks your email account and uses it for illegitimate purposes like sending spam or if the Code of Conduct and Terms of Service that each email provider has is broken.
You are responsible for keeping your password safe and for what happens with your email account.
3. Using POP instead of IMAP
IWhen using POP the messages are downloaded and deleted from the email server, thus leaving you with only a local copy stored on your email client. This can lead to you losing your emails if something happens to your PC or to your email client, see point (4).
4. An error on your part
Inadvertently deleting an email or a folder because an error on your part or because of a misconfiguration. This can happen with local email clients as well as online services because human errors are always present.
5. Service outage
Service outage can also disrupt the availability of the service. On June 24th Office 365 and its Exchange email service had an outage of 9 hours. On January 24 Gmail service became inaccessible and everyone panicked.
Losing access to your email service and your messages can seem like a horror story. Luckily this failures don’t happen very often, but when they do, it is difficult or nearly impossible to recover them.
You need to have a backup plan in place especially for business email accounts. It can be simple like saving only the emails from specific folders or labels or more complex like dedicated online backup services.
In another post I will review some strategies for email backup.