Perhaps the mail program you use to read emails is starting to get outdated. By archiving or exporting your emails, you have a backup at hand. You can often use this to switch to a new PC or other mail client, for example Windows 8 Mail app.
01 New computer
If you want to transfer or secure your mail, you can do this in various ways. The way you choose depends on what you want to achieve. Got a new computer with Windows 8.1 and your old computer was running Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail? Then you can decide to archive the old messages in a searchable archive file. It is also possible to get the old emails in the Windows 8.1 Mail app. You can also install Windows Live Mail as a program on your new computer and import the messages into it. And maybe you want to switch to webmail from Outlook.com or Gmail? In short: many possibilities and choices!
02 Export and import
With export you get mail from a mail program. A good export can serve as a backup; you need it to transfer your messages to another computer. It is therefore preferable to store the exported messages on an external storage medium, such as an external hard drive or large USB stick. You can also secure the export in a cloud service such as Dropbox or OneDrive.
The biggest problem with transferring or migrating mail is that there are many roads leading to Rome. It is very quick and easy or it takes a very long time. We highlight the most common ways. By creatively combining and experimenting, you arrive at a good end result in almost all scenarios.
03 Same mail client
You can import the messages on your new computer. This works easiest if you have the same mail program here. Switching from Thunderbird on your old computer to Thunderbird on your new computer is therefore easy (see tip 12). This also applies to Windows Live Mail to Windows Live Mail and from Outlook to Outlook.
From Outlook Express to Outlook Express usually doesn't work, because your new computer is probably running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Outlook Express is not available for this. You can, however, switch from Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail (or another mail client).
When you switch from mailclient-A to mailclient-B, we're talking about migrating. A handy wizard is available for some migrations, for example if you are going to use the Windows 8.1 Mail app.
You don't necessarily have to migrate your email to an email client. You can also switch from Windows Live Mail on your computer to Gmail or Outlook.com. Both webmail services work in the cloud: the messages are on the internet and so is the program (the webmail service). You can access your e-mail from any web browser or retrieve the e-mail with a mail program. A good migration wizard is available for the switch to Outlook.com. You can easily link the 'new' Windows 8.1 Mail app to Outlook.com or Gmail.
Mail in the cloud
One of the advantages of migrating to the cloud is that you never have to transfer mail to your next computer again: your mail remains in the cloud. Switching to the webmail service Gmail or Outlook.com has another very pleasant advantage over a classic mail program: your mailboxes are available everywhere and identical, in a web browser, the Windows 8.1 Mail app (if set up so) and on your tablet or smart phone. This also applies to your contacts.
You don't want to limit mail and contacts in the cloud to one manufacturer or brand. This is becoming increasingly difficult as services, software/operating system and hardware are intertwined. The biggest players of the moment are:
Cloud platform: Outlook.com
Hardware: Windows Phone
Cloud platform: Gmail
Hardware: Google Nexus and other Android devices
Cloud platform: iCloud
Hardware: iPhone and iPad
The platforms can largely be used interchangeably. This way you can get Gmail and Outlook.com up and running on all devices without any problems. Apple iCloud is primarily intended for iOS devices. An intermediate step is often necessary to get mail and contacts on other equipment to work. Outlook.com and Gmail have an edge in this regard, something to include in your choice if you want to switch completely to a cloud service.