Want to Dump Your Yahoo Email? Here's How

The latest data breach to hit Yahoo could prompt users to switch to a different email service. That is, if the company's previous security lapse didn't already send them toward the exits.

Yahoo on Wednesday said that a billion user accounts had been hacked in 2013, a crime that wasn't discovered until law enforcement contacted the company this fall. The revelation came just three months after the company disclosed that 500 million accounts had been compromised in 2014. According to the company, both data breaches were linked to state-sponsored actors. The stolen information includes names, phone numbers, birthdates, passwords, and security questions that could be used to reset a password.

If you're a Yahoo email user who has lost confidence in the service, leaving your email account behind can seem intimidating. The same goes if you're switching from Gmail, Outlook, or any other service.

But it's fairly simple. Here's how to make the move. 

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1. Open the New Email Account

Email service providers are more than happy to nab one another’s customers, so many offer a feature to import data from one service to another.

If you're switching to Gmail from another service, click “Import Mail and Contacts” under the Accounts and Import tab and enter your account credentials; Google can pull from Yahoo, Outlook, and AOL.

Outlook.com settings include a “Connected Accounts” feature, which can pull email from up to 13 separate accounts. You’ll have to go to another menu to sync contacts: Select “People” in the main Outlook Mail menu, then go to “Manage” > “Import contacts.”

Switching to Yahoo takes a little more work. You have to enable an export setting in your old account first. In Gmail settings, for instance, select “Enable POP for all mail” in the Forwarding and POP/IMAP Settings tab. Then in Yahoo, go to the Options tab, then Mail Accounts, then Add. Importing contacts is much simpler: Just click on the Contacts tab and click on “import contacts.”

If you check email in a browser, that's all you need to do. But if you also make use of your computer's built-in email software, read on.

2. Sync Your Desktop Clients

Both Windows and Mac OS X have native mail and contacts clients that can sync data with online accounts. If you use those built-in tools, you need to tell them about your new email account.

In Mail for Windows 10, select “Manage Accounts” in Settings, then click “Add Account.” If you use Google’s two-step authentication feature (and you should), you may have to log in and give Windows permission to access your account.

Once you’re logged in via Mail, the People and Calendar apps will have access to the account, as well.

Similarly, in Mac OS X, you can add email, contacts, and calendars all at once; in System Preferences select Internet Accounts then click on the “+” in the lower-left corner and follow the on-screen prompts.

3. Use a Backup Service

This step is optional. But in addition to switching to a new account, you may also want to save an archive to a hard drive. This will give you access to your old emails even if you're offline.

If that's what you’re after, consider downloading or signing up for third-party software specifically designed to capture and save emails.

MailStore Home, for one, is a free piece of Windows software that can back up mail from any internet account, servers such as Microsoft Exchange, or email clients including Mozilla Thunderbird. The tool creates an archive that lets you search both messages and attachments, and it has a one-click export feature can restore emails in bulk or individually.

For remote access to your email data, consider the Dropmyemail service, which for $1.67 a month will keep a secure, searchable archive of your emails in the cloud. Once it's synced with an email account (the service supports all the top email providers), you can download and restore messages or migrate them to a new server.

4. Bonus Advice: Don’t Forget Flickr!

If you use the popular photo-sharing site, remember that your Yahoo credentials are also your Flickr credentials, so deleting Yahoo will also wipe out your pics.

To download your photos, go to Camera Roll view; click “Select All” and then “Download.” You’ll be left with a .zip archive file, which you can extract on your desktop or upload to Google Photos.

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