DON'S FREEWARE CORNER - MAR 2017
BACKING UP YOUR GMAIL AND OTHER GOOGLE INFORMATION

2017 Donald R. Snow - This page last updated 2017-05-10.
These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter.  They are also posted on my Freeware Corner Notes page on  http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html  where the links are active and there may be corrections and additions and other related notes and articles.

GMAIL AND OTHER GOOGLE ITEMS

Many of us use Gmail, as well as other things from Google such as Google Maps and Google Groups.  Google is a reliable company, but you may want to have a backup copy on your own computer of your Gmail and other Google information just to be on the safe side.  This Freeware Corner article will discuss how to use the Google Takeout program (free) to back up all your Google information, including all your Gmail.  You get an mbox compressed file of all your email and other selected Google data that you can store where and how you want, on your own computer, on a flash drive or external hard drive, or in the cloud.  

THE GOOGLE TAKEOUT WEBSITE

The Google Takeout website is  https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout .  It is free and has a list of all the 30 or more Google items that may be in your Google account, including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, your Google Profile, and many more.  You can also get to this Google Takeout menu from your Google account, but it's buried so deep that it's hard to find.  Here are the steps to get to it in Google:  Settings > Accounts > Google Account Settings > Control Your Content > Create An Archive.  Another way to find it is to do a Google search for "site:google.com takeout" (without the quotes).  This is a Google site search which only searches the Google website for the word "takeout".

FORMING THE ARCHIVE

I elected to form a compressed file of my Gmail, my Google Maps, my Google Drive, and my Google Profile.  It started collecting the data and said it might take hours or days even, and that it would send me an email when it was finished.  I elected to have the compressed file sent to my Dropbox account and Dropbox almost immediately sent me an email that I had now connected a new app, Google Download Your Data, to my Dropbox account.  But I never received an email about when Google had finished the archive.  I finally found the file in my Dropbox under Apps > Google Download Your Data and it is 17.4 GB.  Google Create An Archive > Manage My Archive says it can't tell me about any downloads of this file because the file was uploaded to Dropbox.  After I found it in my Dropbox, I made a copy on my desktop so I could work with the archive file.  I have no idea how long it took, since I didn't keep checking and don't know when it finished.  I tried again to form an archive of just my Gmail and save it in my Google Drive account and a 1 MB file showed up there almost immediately, but that must just be the start of the archive, and I have no idea of where the final file is, since I can't find it.  What follows below is what I did with the Google Archive file I copied from my Dropbox.

READING THE MBOX ARCHIVE FILE

The file extension .mbox refers to the format that many email programs use to store emails and is the format that Google Archive produces with all your Gmail.  Google suggests that to look at it you set up the free email program THUNDERBIRD on your computer and open the mbox archive in that.  THUNDERBIRD is a good email program and I used to use it for all my email.  However, I decided not to set up another email program on my computer, but just find and use an mbox viewer instead.  I downloaded the open-source (and hence, free) program WINDOWS MBOX VIEWER from  https://sourceforge.net/projects/mbox-viewer/  and ran the program.  It wanted to know which folder to go to, so I told it the folder on my desktop where I had copied the archive backup files from my Dropbox, and it immediately showed me the mbox file from the archive ready to open.  I clicked to open that file and it took 3 or 4 minutes to read and "parse" (computer jargon) the entire 17.4 GB of emails and attachments and then showed them in panels that look almost like an email program.  It saved the attachments so they open by clicking on Attachment.  It has a search feature that I tried and that seems to work fine and allows me to search the entire collection of emails for words, inclusive dates, etc.  So now it appears that I have a complete and searchable backup file on my computer of all my Gmails and their attachments as of the date I formed the archive.  I think I'll form these backups every few months from now on, so I'll have complete copies of all my emails on my own computer that are searchable without being on the Internet.  I can keep a couple of generations of backups and delete the older ones.

OTHER EMAIL ACCOUNTS

If you use some other email program and it doesn't have an easy way to back up all your old emails, you could consider getting a free Gmail account and setting a filter in your regular email account to automatically forward a copy of every email, received or sent, to your new Gmail account.  Then you could back up your whole Gmail account to preserve it.  Of course, this wouldn't back up earlier emails before you started this system.  Many years ago I started sending myself a copy of every email I write, so I'd have copies in my Inbox.  Google doesn't have a feature that will do this automatically, so I have to remember and add my address as a Cc: in each email I write.  But when I do that, I have a copy of every email I have written and can archive them or move them to boxes (labels in Gmail).  All my written Gmails are in my Sent Mail box, but sometimes I can't find them there for some reason. Also, if I send Gmails from another computer, the Cc copies still go to the Inboxes on all my computers.

OTHER BACKUP OPTIONS

Here are a couple of other ways to backup your emails, but most of them will only back up your emails from now on and won't back up what you have already received.
1.  If you use an email program that uses the mbox format, and many do, find the mbox file and make a copy of it somewhere else on your computer.  This will backup all your emails that there are.
2.  With any email program set up a filter to forward a copy of each email to your EVERNOTE account.  When you set up your EVERNOTE account, free or commercial, you were assigned an email address that any emails sent there are put into EVERNOTE notes, each into a separate note.  They are all searchable there, but may push you over the 2 Gig limit for a free account.  Premium accounts are unlimited in what they can store.
3.  Gmvault - http://gmvault.org/index.html .  This is a program that seems to be popular to back up your Google emails, but I haven't used it.
Note:  I'm still trying to find a good way to back up all my and my wife's old Juno emails from years ago.  I'm still paying for our old Juno accounts since there are lots of old emails there and I haven't learned how to save them off.  I'm sure there is a simple way, but I just haven't taken time to learn how to do it.

HELPFUL ARTICLES ABOUT BACKING UP EMAILS

Google Helps -- https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?hl=en 
Stanford -- https://answers.stanford.edu/solution/im-graduating-can-i-use-google-takeout-back-my-google-apps-data 
Ubergizmo -- http://www.ubergizmo.com/how-to/backup-restore-gmail/ 
University of Connecticut -- http://g.uconn.edu/how-to-use-google-takeout/ 
Lifehacker -- http://lifehacker.com/5934343/how-can-i-migrate-my-google-data-from-one-account-to-another 
YouTube tutorial -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBwfSX1bkaU 
How-To Geek -- https://www.howtogeek.com/216189/how-to-create-and-download-an-archive-of-all-your-google-data/ 

CONCLUSIONS

Since many of you use Gmail, I hope that this Freeware Corner note gives you some ideas of how to back up your emails.  I write these notes as much for my own benefit as for yours and this is one that I've been thinking I needed to learn how to do for a long time.  I hope it helps you, too.  And I still have to figure out how to back up old emails from other accounts that I was using before Gmail.
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