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How to Backup your data when using Google's Services

I’ve had more than one person ask me about using Google’s Services (Gmail, Google Calendar, Contacts, etc.), and one thing that seems to keep coming up is how to protect and backup your data in case anything happens to it.

Now most people would say that there is no need to worry (and I figure I’m one of those people), becuase Google has loads of servers, data storage, and redundancy (more than you or me has).  And even though your data may be safe from something like a hardware failure, Google is still responsible for your data, and it has been known to happen where accounts have been disabled and people have lost everything.

Try a search for “Google Account Disabled” and you will find dozens of incidents in which someone had their account disabled and was cutoff from their data.

Now on to the good stuff, how to protect and backup the data from your Google Account:

  1. Gmail – Setup Gmail for POP/IMAP access and then have your email client at home (Mail on my Mac for example) download your messages every so often (leaving copies on the gmail server).  That way if anything were to happen to your gmail account you would still have all of the emails from the last time you downloaded your messages.  You can also setup your Gmail account to automatically forward a copy of the emails you receive to another email account (yahoo for example), to make sure you don’t lose anything.
  2. Google Calendar – You can backup your google calendar and contacts the same way by synchronizing to your calendar and contact management app at home (iCal and Address Book on my Mac for example).  There’s a great Mac app called Spanning Sync that automatically syncrhonizes your google calendar and iCal, unfortunately the contacts synchronization has to be done manually (or sync contacts automatically with the new Spanning Sync v2.0 Betathanks Charlie!).  You can also download your calendar data by subscribing to you Google Calendar’s feed (here is an example with iCal).
    Other options include Google’s Calendar Sync Program for Outlook, but it only works with the latest software versions (wouldn’t work on outlook 2k for me at the office).  Yet another method that I’ve used in the past involves schedule world and you can read more about it here:
  3. Google Docs – Backing up your Google Documents is a little trickier as you really have 2 options at this point.  One option is to manually download all of your documents from Google Docs one by one.  And the other option is to use the Grease Monkey Script “Google Docs Download” to Download All of your docs at once.
  4. Google Reader – The easiest way to backup your Google Reader account is to export your subscriptions into an OPML file.  With this OPML file you can then rebuild your feeds in a new Google Reader account, or any other software that supports the OPML format.
  5. Google Blogger – Backing up your Blogger Blog is a little more complicated than some of the other services.  First off is backing up your posts which can be done 2 ways, first is to use Bloggers Blogsend which sends you an email of all of your posts, and the second is to use the Firefox extension “DownThemAll” to download all of your posts from and your comments from and don’t forget to backup your Blogger template code by copying it to a text file on your machine.  There are also third party tools that you can use to help backup your blogger blog, but I will not be covering them here.
  6. Google Photos (Picasa Web Albums) – Google now offers a free download of its Picasa Photo Software that offers a one-click option to backup your online photos.

Hopefully this article has helped you realize the importance of backing up your online data, and provided an easy way for you to setup a backup.  Thanks goes out to Lifehacker for the original article that was a big help to me and provided much of the original documentation on these backup methods.

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