The inadvertent loss of all data on the Sidekick servers and devices has certainly questioned the viability of storing important data on the web. The situation has generated some good discussion around the need for redundant data. I think reader Dave said it best in his approach : “Everything is backed up in multiple places. It’s the only way to go, cloud based or not.” I completely agree and very little of my data isn’t living in two places, either on the web, on local storage or a combination of both. If it’s not, it’s data that I’ve deemed as data I can live without.
Having said that — and as a big user of Google’s Gmail — here’s a list of three ways to backup your Gmail.
1. Use a desktop client. This sounds like a no-brainer but some folks (like me) only use the web to access Gmail. If you simply use Gmail with a desktop client such as Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird or any other standard email client, you can include the mail data as part of your standard computer backup approach. You are backing up your computer, right? ;)
2. Gmail-Backup for PC or Linux. This free download exports all of your Gmail conversations and attachments into EML files which you can then backup or store somewhere else online. EML files can be opened with mail clients like Outlook, Thunderbird and Entourage. Lifehacker says the Linux version will work on a Mac as well.
3. Forward all mail to a different mail platform. I’d use this strictly for archive and backup purposes because it can be a pain to manage multiple mail addresses. Also, by sending the mail to a different platform, you reduce the risk that one disaster can take out both your primary and secondary copies of mail. Of course, if the web-at-large goes down, you’re generally stuck.
I’m all for other ways too, so if you have them, please don’t hesitate to share. In the end, a combination of web and local backup may be the best of both worlds. This whole situation has me thinking of installing Outlook on my Windows Home Server! ;)