Using Gmail as Email Backup? Think Again.


I forward all of my POP email to Gmail accounts for easier web access and to serve as a backup in case my desktop email client eats my incoming messages. I have nearly 2 years of email saved this way. After reading Mom, Google Ate My Gmail on Gigaom, I may have to think about a backup strategy for my backup strategy.

Google now says that around 60 accounts were affected by the message-deleting glitch.


Island in the Net

I can see why people would be upset at losing there email accounts and email but….no one is immune from this. I work at a very large pharmaceutical company and even they will sometimes lose email or delete an active account. That’s what backups are for. Systems fail and one should always plan for them.

Paul Jacobson

The thing is, any email application could fail. The best thing you can do is what some people who have commented here are already doing, keep a backup of your email somewhere else, whether it is Thunderbird,, Outlook or another web-based email app with the ability to pull in mail via POP.


I was debating about whether to use my home computer to store e-mails after a problem two months ago. I’m thinking about actually storing the csv. files as well as starting to store the e-mails as PDFs as I open them. It’s clunky, but it’s crazy things at crazy times.

Happy New Year


Eventhough I prefer to use Gmail directly from the web interface, I regularly (every couple of weeks) download (backup) my Gmail messages via POP into and use it as a back-up solution. POP is always enabled in my Gmail preferences and set up so all POPed messages are archived at Gmail, not erased.

Kevin Ruston

As another reader pointed out over at TechCrunch, 60 remote accounts going down out of Gmails entire userbase although nightmarish for those invloved is probably much lower than the number of people who lost email on local systems in the same time period.

Since it seems it resulted from a FFox 2.0 security hole it does raise an issue of the dependence not on google’s infractructure, but on browser security; a dependency common with the ‘webtop’ model generally.

The answer in this case seems to me to be that it shouldn’t be possible for the browser to delete mail immediately like this: the whole point of gmail is based on NOT deleting mail; so why not remove the delete function, or build in some extra redundancy such as ‘items will be permamently deleted from our servers after a 48 hour embargo’ or something?

It’s still by far the best system for email, especially for us daily web workers in my view but then it wasn’t my email that was lost ;-)


What I personally do is to download all my Gmail emails using POP on my home computer from time to time (using Thunderbird, but other email clients will work as well).

But I keep these downloaded POP emails in Gmail (there in an option to do that in the POP tab in the Gmail settings page), thus it doesn’t impact my normal daily usage of Gmail in any ways, and I have a backup copy on my own computer of all my emails, just in case.

Comments are closed.