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Ask-A-Techie: Gmail Backups

Posted by Serges LaRiviere on Fri, Jan 13, 2012

Hi Techie,

I use Gmail for all my email for both home and business.  I know they have backups of everything I write and send but I know that I should have backups myself just in case.  Looking around Gmail, I can’t seem to find any way I can save and backup my years of email, what can I do?



You are right, unlike most other email methods, many webmail services like Gmail do not offer ways to back up your email to a local drive.  Fortunately there are a few options available to make this happen. 

Gmail Backup

Gmail Backup is a program that logs into your email through an easy to use interface and downloads a copy of your entire inbox to your hard drive.  The amount of time this takes is relative to the amount of mail and attachments you have, so if you are somehow using close to the 7+ Gigabytes of space Gmail provides, your download time will be very long.

Note that the software is still in development, so it is not guaranteed to work, or be without bugs or glitches, someone is providing this software for free and is spending their time on this program as a labor of love so don’t expect too much from it, but it is a solid program from what I have seen in my tests.

Using an email client

Gmail offers the ability to download all your messages into a POP client. A POP client downloads and stores local copies of all your emails to your hard drive so you can access them off-line.  For clients, Windows Vista and 7 typically ship with Windows Live Mail, XP users may have Outlook Express.  Thunderbird is also a great free choice for this purpose.

Log into your Gmail.  Look in the upper right corner click and you’ll see the gear icon.  Click that and go to “Mail Settings”.  Under the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, select the option to Enable POP for all mail. Selecting this option will flag every email in your account to be downloaded to your POP client. Also be sure to select the option to keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox in step 2 so that when your messages are downloaded, they are not removed from your Gmail inbox.

Save your changes and open your client of choice.

Once POP access has been enabled on your account, you simply need to download the messages into your POP client. Google provides detailed instructions for several common email clients via the link in step 3. Rather than re-inventing the wheel in this article, check out their walkthroughs.

Hope all this helps!

The Techie


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