Should You Backup Your Google Account?

Category: Backup

If, like many people, you use Google’s suite of online services heavily, you may wonder if data stored on Google’s servers needs to be backed up elsewhere, just as data stored on your local drives should be. Nobody expects to lose their data, but stuff happens. Let's take a look at some of the best Google backup solutions out there...

Granted, it is extremely rare for Google to lose a user’s data unexpectedly. Google’s servers are among the most secure and well-maintained on Earth. But the unexpected does happen now and then. A user’s Google account could be compromised, deleted, or taken over by a hacker, and that usually means the user’s data is no longer available to the legitimate owner.

There was also a 2016 case in which Google deactivated a user’s account without warning, and without opportunity to save his data locally. Artist Dennis Cooper lost 14 years of writing, research, photos and email when Google pulled the plug on his Blogger and Gmail accounts. (Access was finally restored after a three-month fight and lots of publicity.)

So clearly, the need for Google backups exists. Here are several ways to backup your Google data.

Google Cloud Backup

If you store anything on your Google Drive cloud-storage facility, you should have Google Backup and Sync installed on your local device(s). It’s free, and it effectively backs up your Google Drive data to the local drive(s) on which the app is installed. Any files or folders that your drag and drop into the Google Drive folder on a device get synced in Google Drive, and anything you upload to Google Drive by other means gets synced in your local Google Drive folder.

There are some drawbacks to Backup and Sync as a backup solution. First, the cloud-based Drive keeps only what’s kept in the local Drive folder. Depending on your Baskup and Sync settings, if you delete a file locally, it may be deleted from the cloud; that’s not helpful if you accidentally delete a file and wish to recover it from a backup copy. (See my Google Backup & Sync article for a more detailed discussion of the capabilities, options and settings.) Second, syncing large amounts of data via Google Drive can be slow and expensive, especially if you’re using a cellular data connection. And it won’t back up your GMail.

Third-Party Google Backup Tools

For backups of my Gmail messages, I use the Upsafe Free Gmail Backup app. It backs up my Gmail - messages, embedded images, and attached files - to my local hard drive. It does incremental backups, manually or on a schedule I set. It allows me to restore accidentally deleted messages. It’s a great little tool for its limited but critical purpose.

Upsafe also offers a paid service that does backup chores for Google Mail, Drive, Calendar, Contacts, Photos, and Sites. You can try it for free on up to 5GB of your Google data. The cost to go “unlimited” is just $2/month.

Unlike the free Upsafe Gmail Backup app, the paid Google Account backup app does not use your local storage space or your bandwidth. Backup copies move “cloud to cloud” via high-speed commercial Internet connections and reside on Upsafe’s secured servers. Data restored from backups takes the cloud-to-cloud route, too.

Another free GMail backup utility that I've tried is GMail Backup. It works similarly to the Upsafe tool, storing your email messages on your local hard drive. It can do incremental backups, and also lets you select a date range or individual labels (GMail's equivalent of folders) for backup or restore operations. As you'd expect from the name, it only backs up your email. GMail Backup hasn't been updated since 2013, but it still works.

NOTE: Both Upsafe and the GMail Backup tool have one glitch that you may encounter. You may experience an error when trying to connect either of these tools to your GMail account. If that happens, and you're sure it's not an incorrect password, the fix is simple. Just temporarily disable your anti-virus real-time protection prior to starting the backup, and then re-enable it.

Google Data Dump

Google itself provides a service called Takeout to backup all data in your Google account. Go to your Google My Account page and click on “Data & personalization” in left-hand sidebar of the page. On the next page, click on “Download your data” Then select the type(s) of Google account data you want to back up. Click “Next step” and select the type of backup file format you want (.zip is default) and how you want the archive delivered to you when it’s ready. Click “Create archive” to start that process while you go do something else.

This method is free and comprehensive; you’ll get a copy of everything Google that’s associated with you (or just the data you selected). But it’s not incremental and there are no “restore” functions. It’s just a file full of data sorted into folders. If you want to restore your exported Gmail data to another Gmail account, there is a third-party tool called Google Takeout to Gmail Import.

There are other paid cloud-to-cloud Google backup services out there. Upsafe seems to have the best offering for consumers; the others I’ve looked at are geared for organizations and teams. For two bucks a month, Upsafe provides all the Google backup most people need. If you run a business and use Google's G Suite, then Backupify will backup your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Contacts and Google Sites up to three times per day, and allows one-click recovery of Gmail messages and Google Drive files.

The important point in all of this is to make sure your data is never in just one place. Do you backup your cloud-based data? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below..

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Most recent comments on "Should You Backup Your Google Account?"

Posted by:

16 Apr 2019

I use to use Google, but do not any longer as they can not be trusted. They are professional snoops and work closely with this ugly government. Google snoops into peoples business and sells information to other people about you. They say they do not do this but in fact like Trump, it is all lies to make themselves look better and mor3e legitimate. I would stay away from Google, they are too crooked for my blood... No backup necessary if you do not use them.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Your comments about Google and government are odd, in light of Google's well-documented progressive left leanings. You might find this link from CNN interesting:

Posted by:

16 Apr 2019

Correction for Bob!
Paragraph 6 contains "Depending on your Baskup and Sync settings". It should, of course, read as "Depending on your Backup and Sync settings".

Posted by:

Art Walker
16 Apr 2019

Upsafe Free Gmail Backup is not listed in Google PlayAny reason??.

Posted by:

16 Apr 2019

Ivan should stay in his closet with his stupid political comments. This is a venue in which to address and share technical issues and not your political frustrations.

Posted by:

Marge Teilhaber
17 Apr 2019

Bob, it should be two words. When we back up our data, we then have a backup.

Posted by:

17 Apr 2019

@Clarence Actually, political comments aside (not that I disagree with them), Ivan is correct that Google cannot be trusted due to their snooping and harvesting personal data for their own use and selling it for advertising or whatever.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jeannie and Ivan are welcome to express their opinions here, so long as they realize it's only opinion they are expressing. Unless, of course, they can provide an authoritative source for their claims that Google is snooping and selling personal data.

Posted by:

18 Apr 2019

I don't use Google (except via StartPage), don't use any "cloud" services and don't own a "smartphone" — all my data are held locally (insofar as I can manage this, and I regularly do multiple local backups.
"If you sup with the Devil, use a long spoon." — it works for me...

Posted by:

John V
18 Apr 2019

Dear Editor Bob:


So, for example, you could recommend that people back up their backup.

Hope my English advice is as helpful as your technical advice Regards

Posted by:

20 Apr 2019

With Google Backup and Sync, your local copy or your Google drive gets backed up as part of your daily disk image backup, which everyone here does by now, right? Same goes for Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. :)

Posted by:

20 Apr 2019

Sorry, that's "local copy OF (not OR) your Google drive".

Posted by:

Jonathan Long
24 Apr 2019

Google shutting down all their + services?

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