In the wake of Google accidentally deleting some people’s Gmail accounts over the weekend, I thought I’d share my Gmail backup method. While Google has apparently nearly restored all of those missing accounts, now’s a good time to review your own backup plans — how would you feel if you suddenly lost access to your email?
I mentioned in my post earlier this week that its a good idea to have a local backup of any critical data that resides on cloud services. The app I use for Gmail backup is called MailStore Home, a free Windows email archiving tool that Kevin wrote about a few years ago. It makes storing a local copy of Gmail emails a snap, and it doesn’t just work with Gmail, either. Out of the box, MailStore can archive email from a range of desktop and web-based email applications, including Windows Mail, Exchange, Thunderbird, Gmail and Hotmail. It also supports POP and IMAP, so should be able to store email from accounts you have pretty much anywhere.
Setting it up to work with Gmail is just a matter of giving it your email address and password. By default, it will archive all of your mail, except for spam and trash, but you can also decide to include or exclude email with particular labels or emails from certain a date range.
Once MailStore has archived all the email from the account (a process that will likely take quite a while the first time it runs, depending on the volume of mail there is to archive), you can use the MailStore app to browse the archive and search for email. If your Gmail account disappears, you can then use the archive to restore your email.
The email is actually stored in local database, which could easily be wiped out by a hard drive failure, so to make doubly sure my emails are safe, I also occasionally make a backup of the archive. MailStore makes this pretty easy: there are home page options to back up to an external hard drive or DVD.
Fortunately, I’ve never had to restore my emails from my archive. But I feel much more comfortable knowing I have a local copy.