In the wake of Google accidentally deleting some 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 strategy.


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.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Does enabling “Gmail Offline” make for a viable Gmail backup strategy? Is MailStore compatible with Gmail Offline?

    1. Possibly, although I wouldn’t just rely on Gmail Offline. I’m not sure how easy it would be to get the messages back out again if you lost access to your account for whatever reason.

      MailStore just downloads a snapshot of your email so I wouldn’t have thought it would have any problems with Gmail Offline.

  2. Do you know of any Mac apps to back up Gmail accounts?

    1. I don’t know of any apps as easy to use as MailStore, I’m afraid, Rick — otherwise I’d be using them (I’m a Mac user normally, but I also have Windows on my MBP). However, you could just use Apple Mail or Thunderbird to connect to Gmail over IMAP to download your messages, which would provide a local backup.

  3. Does anyone know how this works with Google Apps accounts?

    1. Enable Imap in your Google Apps account settings and then just set Mailstore to access it as an Imap account.

      The servers are (if i recall aright) imap.gmail.com and smtp.gmail.com.

  4. we’ll l see my e-mail is not up just, So how would it be for it come

    1. Well the words are English – but I have no idea what you’re asking….

  5. Is MailStore free?

    1. They have free and paid versions. Free should be enough for most people. it has some limitations like only remembering 3 outlook profiles, and not allowing you to open a PST file that isn’t one that Outlook is set to open. But these are easily overcome and it seems to work well.

  6. Just to make sure. This creates an archive, not a backup that can be restored to Gmail, right? Or is there a way to upload it back to Gmail?

    1. Must admit I’ve never needed to try it but when I first looked at it the process to restore a mail archive to gmail seemed simple enough:

      Choose restore, pick a mail archive, choose to restore to an imap mailbox, give it the gmail/google apps account and server details, press ‘go’.

      Given the positive reviews of mailstore and my experience with it so far I’m ready to assume that it will work as advertised (though you know what they say about assuming… ;-)

      As a fall-back I also use Backupify, which is a cloud based, set-and-forget solution. I figure that Gmail is reliable, I have a local copy and one in the cloud. That’s more levels of insurance than I have on my home…..

      1. Thank you for your reply flippertie. I looked at Spanning Backup, but they don’t do Gmail, saying that’s what Postini is for. Backupify sounds almost too good to be true ;-) As you use them – is there any catch, or something one should be aware of before choosing them as a backup provider?

      2. Backupify does sound great. The limitation is that they only give you 2 GB free storage – which is easy to fill if you have a lot of email, or backup facebook, contacts, etc – then you need to move to the paid service… (which is what they want, obviously).

        They use the “oauth” system to connect to your account, which means that you tell gmail (or facebook etc) to authorise backupify to access yout account, and Gmail gives them a unique token that allows them to access the account – they do not ever see or store your password. You can revoke the permission at anytime without needing to change your gmail password.
        NB – I’ve only been using them for a couple of weeks so…..

  7. Vijay Thakur (develpment team member) Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Hello All,
    I am one of the developer team member and would say that in order to prevent the loss such as Gmail disruption or Gmail outage, we all must have to have regular gmail backup.
    And for having backup there is a simple tool available known as Beyond Inbox, which lets you enable to have email backup of Gmail account.
    See the link-

Comments have been disabled for this post