How To Completely Back Up Your Google Account Files

By Wesley Fenlon

Tons of our important data rests on Google's servers. It never hurts to have a fallback solution.

Raise your hand if you use Gmail, Google Docs, Chat or Calendar (if you’re in a public place, you’re excused from raising your hand--you might look a bit silly). Point is, the majority of us find ourselves knee deep in at least one Gmail Inbox every day, and Docs provides a fantastic service for storing files in the cloud and collaborating with friends and colleagues. But delete a file from the cloud, and you may find yourself scrambling in vain to get it back. Worse, every so often the unthinkable happens--Google’s servers go down.


Online Backup

back up your Gmail account with a second Gmail account! Here’s what you do: set up a new Gmail profile, then head to the “Accounts and Import” tab in the Settings menu. Here you’ll find the option to Check Mail Using POP3. Add your primary email address and password and you're set!

As an extra-secure option, use a Yahoo! or Hotmail account to backup your Gmail Inbox. And remember, always use a different password--if someone hacks your primary account, the last thing you need is an equally vulnerable backup.  Here you may want to check a “leave a copy of retrieved message on the server” option so your emails will arrive in both your primary and backup Inboxes.

If you’re looking for a more robust solution--something that will backup your mail, contacts, and documents in one fell swoop, check out Backupify. Though it’s primarily designed for businesses that want to backup multiple user accounts, there’s a free plan for personal accounts that offers 2GB of storage. Backupify supports Gmail, Docs, Contacts, and Calendar, and a whole host of other social media services like Twitter and Flickr.

Offline Backup

Sometimes there’s just no beating a local repository of those important files. Between massive thunderstorms, ISP outages and unreliable routers, sometimes we lose Internet access right when we need it most. Or maybe you just don’t trust the cloud--that’s okay. Here’s how to download your precious data.

set up a free email application like Mozilla’s trusty Thunderbird. Not only does Thunderbird support Windows, Mac OS and Linux, its UI has seriously improved over the years, and version 3.1 looks quite nice. When adding a new email account to Thunderbird, make sure “Leave messages on server” is checked on the Server Settings page of your account--that way all your mail will remain accessible online.

Nothing attached to a Google account is easier to backup than Google Contacts. Login to your Gmail account, switch to the Contacts window, and click on the “More Actions” button. From there, the Export option allows for you to save all of your contacts as a CSV or vCard file. CSVs can be imported into Thunderbird or another email applications like Microsoft Outlook. Backing up Google Docs en masse is also a painless procedure: simply choose Export from the More Options menu, switch to All Items, and get to downloading.

pick a calendar application that supports Google Calendar synchronization like Rainlendar. Another alternative is  Rainmeter, an extremely customizable desktop skinning program, which can integrate everything from processor and weather monitors to RSS readers and synchronized calendars.

Backing up in Reverse

sell more storage space. 20GB costs only $5 a year. There are also ways to use Gmail as a file storage solution. While Google’s free storage may not be the best solution for large-scale backups, it’s perfect for storing important documents and photos just in case disaster strikes your computer.