You’ve probably already heard about a number of Gmail users logging into their account yesterday only to find out that all of their mail and labels had vanished. Gmail says that something happened that caused those user’s accounts to be switched back to new accounts.
According to their status blog only 0.02% of users were affected and as of now most of those accounts have been restored, presumably with all of their lost data back in place. Google says it hopes to have the remaining 0.013% accounts up and running in within the next 12 hours.
Still, this should be a wakeup call to all users. No matter what web-based email client you use it’s never a bad idea to have your emails backed up in another place just to be safe. For the purposes of this post we’ll just focus on backing up Gmail.
Backing Up Gmail to Another Web-Based Email Account
Enter the address you want to forward your mail to, you can choose any email address you like, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail or even another Gmail address, although for the purposes of backing up your emails using a different provider is probably wise. Gmail will send an email to the address you chose to forward to with a code to enter in order to confirm that you actually own the address. Once the address is verified you can add that address and all future emails will be forwarded along. If you’re using this strictly for backup, in the dropdown next to it keep the original copy in your inbox.
Backing Up Gmail to a Desktop Client
There are a number of desktop clients out there that work great but aren’t that great for backing up your files offline. As far as I know Postbox and Thunderbird do not offer this option. Outlook and Outlook Express however both offer “Auto Archive” features that will remove your messages from the server and store them offline.
The problem with using a client that doesn’t have this feature is that if Gmail (or any web-based email) does accidentally delete your emails and you’re using POP or IMAP to access them, they will also be deleted on your desktop client since it’s basically mirroring what is on the server. I could be wrong about this but I confirmed with Postbox and that is my understanding.
For the purposes of this post we’ll use Outlook. Go to File>Options>Advanced. You’ll see the “AutoArchive Settings” button there.
You can configure AutoArchive a number of ways including which folders to archive as well as how often they should be archived. Setting up this option will assure you that your mail is now permanently off the server and stored safely on your hard drive.
Backing Up Gmail Using a Cloud Service
This is the service that may cost you a little investment because not all levels of the service are free. I recommend a service like Backupify which not only lets you backup your Gmail account but also any of your social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook or Picasa.
They offer a free level of service which includes weekly backups of all of your files however this level only includes 2GB of storage and if you’re a Gmail power user, chances are you have way more than 2GB in your gmail account. The next level up is only $4.99/mo and includes up to 20GB of storage plus 25 different social media platforms as well as nightly backups.
The bottom line is, regardless of what system you are using whether it’s cloud based or sitting on your hard drive you should alway make sure to have a backup of your data somewhere else. It’s one of those things that may seem silly until the one day you’re actually confronted with the loss of all of your data. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have the backup.
What sort of backup plans do you have to make sure your online data is safe?