Gmail can be such a reliable email service that soon after opening an account, you might find yourself using it for everything from job applications to everyday emails, to corresponding with friends and family. But take heed: the service isn’t perfect. Though it’s not common, widescale Gmail outages have happened and are not impossible. If you now rely on Gmail for most of your incoming and outgoing emails, it’s advisable, for your own sanity, to have a backup of your data just in case something goes wrong.
Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Outlook, and other email clients
It’s time to put email clients to use – including ones that come pre-installed on your computer. If you’ve never used one before, know that it can effectively back up any email account, including Gmail. To note, if you have activated Google’s 2-step verification, you have to input an application-specific password (generate one via Google’s 2-step verification page) the first time a client asks for your password.
If you decide to back up your email using a client, the first thing you have to do is tweak your Gmail settings. Here’s how:
1. Click the gear button on the top right-hand corner of your Gmail page.
2. Click Settings, then Forwarding POP/IMAP.
3. Enable IMAP and make sure you choose “Do not limit the number of messages in an IMAP folder” under Folder Size Limits.
4. Click Save Changes.
5. Visit Google Support’s IMAP page for instructions on how to use your Gmail with mail clients.
1. Download and install Mozilla Thunderbird (link starts download).
2. Create a new account, and input your Gmail username and password or application-specific password.
3. Click Get Mail to download your emails.
Using Apple’s Mail app:
1. Launch Mail app > Mail > Preferences.
2. Click the + button, and input your Gmail email address and password or application-specific password.
3. Click Mailbox > Synchronize > Gmail.
4. Right click on the Gmail account in Mail’s left-hand menu, and click Get Account Info.
5. Click All Mail to download all your emails on Mac.
1. Launch Outlook > Tools > Account Settings.
2. Click New.
3. Input your email address and password or application-specific password.
4. Your emails will automatically start downloading.
Gmail Offline, Gmail Backup, and other third-party backup programs
You can also access your Gmail account without Internet connection via a Chrome app called Gmail Offline. It doesn’t automatically back up all your emails, but it works great if you only need access to some of your latest messages.
Another option is third-party backup programs like Gmail backup. Download the program from the site – it hasn’t been updated within the last few years, but it still works fine – install it, and input your email address and password or application-specific password. The program isn’t a full email client, and you’ll need a separate client to read the messages it saves, but it”s a great way to export your emails so you can have them on hand.
Backupify is another service you can use to back up your Gmail account and your other Google services. Unfortunately, unlike the other options we’ve discussed, it isn’t free. Backupify saves your data on the cloud for a minimum of $3 per month for 35GB of space.
If you don’t want to back up your emails but need a copy of your contacts list, you can easily export it.
1. Click the drop-down menu below the Gmail logo > choose Contacts.
2. Click the More drop-down menu and choose Export.
3. Choose the Contacts group you’d like to export and the file type.
Do you use another way to back up your Gmail account? Let us know in the comments!