How to back up your Google account

Bad things happen, and sometimes they happen to your Google account. One nightmare scenario for consumers who rely on Gmail, Google Photos, and other Google products is losing access to all of their data. This is what occurred to a father who used his Android phone to send images of his child to a doctor and found himself suddenly without access to years of personal data — contacts, family photos, you name it — stored in his Google accounts.

There are also compelling reasons to keep a local backup of your Google data. You may be changing employment, discontinuing use of a specific email account, or simply want a backup of all your emails in case something goes wrong. Whatever your reasons, backing up and exporting your Gmail and other Google accounts using Google’s Takeout service is a good idea. In reality, you may arrange your accounts to back up on a regular basis, which is a good habit — especially if you have several years’ worth of vital data in them.

Please keep in mind that if you’re backing up a company account, your company may have blocked Takeout. There are third-party apps that claim to back up your Gmail, but you should check your company’s regulations first.

How To Back Up Your Google Account:

  • Go to myaccount.google.com
  • Under Privacy & personalization, click on Manage your data & privacy.
  • Scroll down to Download or delete your data. Click on Download your data.

  • This will take you to the Google Takeout page. If you only want to download the data of specific accounts — just your Gmail, say — first, click on Deselect all at the top of the page and then go through the list. If you want everything, then just go ahead. Note that the first choice, Access log activity, is not automatically checked; this can slow down your download considerably, so you may want to leave it unchecked.

Google account

  • Scroll down to see all the various sources of data you’ll be downloading. It’s worth going slowly the first time and checking if you want everything — remember, the more that you ask to be downloaded, the longer it will take and the larger the file(s). You will also get format choices for many of the categories, and it’s worth checking those as well.

  • Some categories will have a button reading All XX data included (“XX” being the name of the app). Click on that button to see if there are any categories that you don’t want to download — for example, you may not want a backup of all your promotional emails.

  • Scroll down and click Next step.
  • To decide how you want to receive your data, click the small arrow underneath Delivery method to see your options, including emailing a download link or adding the data to your Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box. (Note: if you’re concerned about losing access to your Google data, saving it to your Drive may not be the best solution.)
  • You can also choose whether to export your data just this one time or every two months (for up to a year). You can choose the type of compression to use (.zip or .tgz) and the maximum file size. (If the file size is larger than your maximum, it will be separated into multiple files; and any files larger than 2GB will use the zip64 compression format.) After you’re done making your selections, click Create export.

  • Your export will start, and its progress will be noted at the bottom of the Takeout page. Be prepared to wait; it might take days to finish. You can also click Cancel export or Create another export.

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