Tech Q&A: How to upgrade an e-mail program without losing mail

Steve Alexander, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

Q: I've been using a POP (Post Office Protocol) account to access my Comcast e-mail; it deletes old mail from the server once I download it to my PC's Outlook mail program. Now I want to switch to an IMAP (internet Message Access Protocol) e-mail account, which would keep all my mail on the server so I can access it from both my phone and tablet computer. How can I do that while moving 2.5 gigabytes of old e-mail from Outlook to the mail server?

--Kenneth Enstrom, Bloomington, Minn.

A: Comcast makes it fairly easy to switch your e-mail account from POP to IMAP (see

But there's a catch: It's unclear whether all 2.5 gigabytes your old e-mail will be copied back to the Comcast mail server during the POP to IMAP conversion. If it isn't, some of that e-mail might be lost.

To avoid losing any e-mail, back up the contents of Outlook before making the switch from POP to IMAP. By using a process called "exporting," you can back up your e-mail to a PC folder that's not part of Outlook (see

Then follow Comcast's directions for creating a new IMAP account, and for transferring the contents of your inbox, sent mail, etc. to the new account. (This is an attempt by Comcast to copy your PC e-mail back to the mail server. If it works, great. If not, you've got the backup.)


Once the transition to IMAP is completed, you can "import" your e-mail back into your PC's Outlook program (see details at the same URL that explained "export.")

Once you have an IMAP e-mail account, all your devices will be able to read, save or delete new e-mail. Whether your old mail will be visible on all devices, or just your PC, remains to be seen.

Q: My iMac frequently gets a message that I need to update the Adobe Flash software. But when I try to download the software, nothing seems to happen. Then, a few hours later, the warning appears again. How can I either update Flash or get rid of the warning?

--Kendra Garrett, St. Paul, Minn.


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