Backup For Gmail and Other Webmail Accounts

Category: Backup , Email

An AskBob reader says: “I've been using Gmail for over a year, and it works great. But I'm a little nervous that there's no obvious way to backup my contacts and email messages, just in case. Is there a solution you can recommend?” Yes, read on to learn how to back up your Gmail, Yahoo and email data.

Backup and Restore For Gmail

Web-based Gmail is a pleasure to use (it's been my inbox since 2004), and many people use it exclusively. But your messages and contacts in Gmail can get lost or deleted accidentally. And there's always the possibility you could lose access to your account, for various reasons. Here are a couple of ways to make backup copies of your Gmail, easily and automatically.

You may want a local backup of your Gmail, in case you ever want to read Gmail while you are offline. Local backups are easy, if you have a desktop email client such as Microsoft Outlook, Windows Mail or Thunderbird. Start by logging in to your Gmail account, then click on the gear icon in the upper right corner, and select "See all settings". Now click the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab.

In the "POP Download" section, select "Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded)" in step 1. Select "keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox" in step 2. Click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the screen.

Now, fire up your desktop email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.). Set up a new email account using your Gmail address. Configure it to fetch messages from Gmail's POP server. Google even provides detailed instructions for many email clients. Use your desktop client to check for new Gmail. It may take a long time to download everything. Spam and deleted Gmail will not be downloaded. Configure your desktop client to automatically check for new Gmail every so often, and you will always have a local backup copy of your Gmail!

Gmvault is a freeware program that does a fine job of backing up Gmail. Gmvault does not require you to have a desktop email client, runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, and creates a plain-text backup of your Gmail messages. Each message is stored as a separate file in a folder your specify. I like that because I can use a search utility or even a text editor to scan or view the contents. Gmvault also has the ability to restore emails to a Gmail account. Another benefit of a local email backup is that your webmail will be backed up when you do your regular full system backups.

My popular ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS will teach you how to protect ALL your files, and save your bacon in the event of a data disaster. The ebook also includes tips for backing up smartphones, your passwords, social media accounts, email, device drivers, what to do if you're hit by a ransomware attack, and LOTS more.

Backing Up Yahoo Mail and

Above, I described a technique for backing up Gmail by configuring the settings to enable POP or IMAP access, and then using a desktop email program to save a local backup copy of your webmail. You can do the same thing with Yahoo Mail, (formerly called Hotmail) and other webmail services.

See this page for instructions on enabling POP access for Yahoo Mail, and details on setting up your email program to work with it. For instructions on doing this with, look here.

Your Google Data Dump

Google provides many services in addition to Gmail. If you use Calendar, Drive, Photos, or Youtube, Google provides a way to backup all data on your Google account. Go to your Google Takeout page and check the boxes for the data you want to download. Choose a delivery method (email, Dropbox, OneDrive) and optionally schedule an automtic archive of your selected data every 2 months for one year.

This method is free and comprehensive; you’ll get a copy of everything Google that’s associated with you. But it’s not incremental and there are no “restore” functions. It’s just a Zip file full of data sorted into folders.

What's your backup solution for Gmail and other online accounts? Post a comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Backup For Gmail and Other Webmail Accounts"

Posted by:

Bob Buffington
28 Jun 2022

Need a new challenge? Can you advise me of a way to backup my email files for I love this email program and have used it for years. Your comments are welcome.

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

I "forward" every email that comes in to my gmail account to a backup gmail account. I very rarely look at my backup gmail account, but it's good to know that every gmail I've received is safely backed up there. Once a year, I check my backup gmail account to see if it's getting full - when it does, I simply create a new backup gmail account, and forward all my incoming gmail to that new backup account. My contacts are all kept locally on my laptop, which I regularly back up.

Posted by:

Martin Howard
28 Jun 2022


Please can you devote an article to the fact that if you now use Gmail within a non-Google account e.g. Outlook, Windows Live Mail, etc then you have to go through new complex Google security procedures using App passwords. These are generated by Google. They can simultaneously affect your existing Gmail password. This is causing confusion to some of my clients especially those of an advanced age. These Google changes came into effect towards the end of May 2022 with no advertising or advance notice.

Posted by:

Daniel Wiener
28 Jun 2022

I own several domain names, and I configure them with associated email addresses that I send and receive email with. However, any email to those addresses is forwarded to my Gmail account which I operate from almost exclusively. When I send out email from my Gmail account, I send it as an alias of one of the other email addresses. This means that if I ever lost my Gmail account for any reason, I could simply redirect the forwarding addresses to some other email client and nobody would know the difference. So while I like Gmail I am not locked into it.

But what about all my past emails? In addition to forwarding everything to Gmail, I also forward everything to an old Yahoo email account. I almost never visit that account, but it contains backups of all the email I've received over the past decade.

Posted by:

Harry Elder
28 Jun 2022

Another way - Download all of your email in an mbox file. Delete large chunks of your email on Google servers to save space.

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

Bob Buffington: Without researching, Thunderbird will access any email service (given accounts and passwords) and save a *local* copy on your PC.

Sounds like a backup to me. And (not snarkingly) have you tried Googling "Backup"

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

I'm sorry, but the lastest version on the download page is dated "31 of March 2016". That can't possibly be safe!

Posted by:

29 Jun 2022

Another source of email backup is MailStore. From the website: "MailStore Home lets you archive your private emails from almost any source and search through them quickly. Keep your emails safe and retrievable for years."

Google it. Recommended.

Posted by:

01 Jul 2022

I have been using Thunderbird in which I added the 30 or so email accounts that I accumulated over the years. A few are Yahoo email accounts, others are Gmail accounts and others are from different email providers.

I never visit Yahoo or Gmail since all my data is in Thunderbird and it's backed up daily. Plus the fact that I have very easy access to the email accounts on a single screen where I can see how many new emails have arrived either per account or in a consolidated, unified format.

Posted by:

Alois Baker
10 Jul 2022

I heard that Google/Alphabet reads every email you send and if it contains certain trigger words, they get sent to the NSA and other snoop government agencies for further examination. Anybody know if that's true?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I can think of an easy way to find out. It might involve black helicopters flying low over your house, though...

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Backup For Gmail and Other Webmail Accounts (Posted: 28 Jun 2022)
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