Should You Backup Your Google Data?

Category: Backup

If, like many people, you use Google’s panoply of 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 recent 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.

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 the Google Drive app 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 Google Drive as a backup solution. First, the cloud Drive keeps only what’s kept in the local Drive folder. If you delete a file locally, it’s deleted from the cloud; that’s not helpful if you accidentally delete a file and wish to recover it from a backup copy. Second, syncing large amounts of data via Google Drive can be slow and expensive, especially if you’re using a cellular data connection. And Google Drive syncing won’t back up 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.

NOTE: Both Upsafe and the GMail Backup tool have one glitch that you may encounter. If you run Avast antivirus, 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 Avast real-time protection prior to starting the backup, and then re-enable it. (Using these tools with other antivirus protection may require the same work-around, but I've only tested it with Avast.)

Google Data Dump

Google itself provides a crude way to backup all data on your Google account. Go to your Google My Account page and click on “Control your content” in the “Personal info & privacy” section of the page. On the next page, click on “Create archive.” Then select the type(s) of Google account data you want to back up. Click “Next” 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. But it’s not incremental and there are no “restore” functions. It’s just a file full of data sorted into folders.

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.

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 Data?"

Posted by:

30 Aug 2016

I'm using Spanning Backup.
I have never had a reason to use my Gmail backup, but I believe it works well.

Posted by:

Jim Michaels
30 Aug 2016

I sync my Dropbox with MEGA.

Posted by:

30 Aug 2016

I had no idea this even existed, Bob.
I'm backing up over 4,000 important messages and files as I type this.
It could have potentially caused me a great amount of consternation if they disappeared one day.
I owe you a great debt of gratitude.

Posted by:

30 Aug 2016

How can you back-up Yahoo e-mail?

Posted by:

Daniel Wiener
30 Aug 2016

Almost every night I use the free Mailstore Home program to incrementally backup my Gmail account onto my hard drive. That currently represents just under half a million emails. I like Gmail (although my wife hates it), but I'm paranoid about losing all of that critical information. Also, if the Internet connection is down for some reason, I can still search through my local collection of emails for whatever I need.

One other advantage is that this effectively makes me independent of Gmail. I utilize several email addresses (from domains that I own) to send and receive email. When people send messages to those addresses it is email-forwarded to my Gmail account. So if I ever decided that I wanted to switch to some other email provider, I'd just have to change my email-forwarding configuration. And I'd still have a complete archive of my old emails on my computer.

Posted by:

James Ware
30 Aug 2016

I can't get UPSAFE to install on my desktop PC running Windows 10. The install program download and and appear to run but nothing start, and a search can find the program anyplace on my machine. Any idea as to why I am having this problem?
Thanks, James

Posted by:

Frances Appleby
30 Aug 2016

Thanks a Million, Bob - I have tried to download my emails through Google's service, but never got anything!

Posted by:

30 Aug 2016

Surely, anyone who backs up 14 years of data to a single location, no matter how good that location is, is courting a potential disaster.

Posted by:

31 Aug 2016

Thanks Bob, as always you found info for the not so geek. I just found out more about Firefox data backup and recovery this week and still shaking my head at all the data in the save folder after a refresh.
I just reestablished a g-mail account this very day and this even more great fun to enjoy.
I've also gotten to endue my better half's Pinterest events.
Thanks Again,

Posted by:

31 Aug 2016

Thanks for the advice on Gmail backup.
I do regular static backups of my Google Drive to my free 5GB Microsoft OneDrive.
In the last 2 years, I have encountered one instance of losing Google Drive data and another of Google Calendar data.
I don't trust putting all my personal and security info on the cloud. I keep 3 rotating sets of 2 USB drives (one for personal data, one for the MS recovery drive) and always carry the current set in my pocket. The personal data is secured inside an encrypted folder on the USB drive.

Posted by:

31 Aug 2016

Hi Bob. I am one of those who has no real need to backup my Goggle data, as I do not - and will not - use Google cloud storage. As one who has intermittent, at best, internet connection I really see no need to store things on the cloud when I may not be able to access it reliably. Also, I am one who has much faith that information stored there is that secure from unauthorized "inspection". Just because I have nothing to hide and just because certain alphabet agencies are not supposed to do it, doesn't mean they don't. Some claim I am paranoid. I call it healthy skepticism.I'll keep my information on my computer where I know it's secure. when I need an offsite backup, I use a pocket drive and keep it elsewhere.
Thanks, Bob.

Posted by:

Joe M
01 Sep 2016

Rule #1. Never trust your data to anyone.
Rule #2. See Rule #1.

My solution is to use a QNAP NAS which supports syncing data across devices. In fact, my favorites, downloads and docs all sync across all my computers, so if I save something in one place, it replicates across all devices.

If you do something like this, never forget that a NAS is not a backup. You still need backups!

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