We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
2,862 Tutorials

How to back up your webmail account

Avert disaster when bugs make your web-based email unavailable

It's hard enough to remember to back up your PC, your laptop, your smartphone, and your tablet, let alone your cloud-based email account, too. However, after a recent Gmail glitch left thousands of users unable to access their inboxes, anyone who relies too heavily on the cloud, would do well to back up their web-based email.

Yes, we know - it's hard enough to remember to back up your desktop, your laptop, your smartphone, and your tablet, and now we want you to think about backing up your cloud-based email account, too.

This may seem like a drag, but we're not being paranoid. Recently, 150,000 Gmail users were left in the dark when a glitch in Google's system deleted all of their email messages and disabled their Gmail accounts. Sure, only 0.02 percent of Gmail's user base was affected, but that 0.02 percent was pretty ticked off, to say the least. Luckily, Google not only keeps multiple copies of user data in multiple data centers (under different circumstances, knowing this fact might actually make you feel worse), but it also keeps tape backups, and thus was able to restore the deleted email within a week.

The recent Gmail outage may have ended happily, but it still should be a wake-up call for anyone who relies too heavily on the cloud. The time to back up your web-based email is now.

Gmail

Google's Gmail gives you plenty of space - over 7.5GB of space, actually - to store thousands of email messages, but that doesn't mean you should put all of your email eggs in one basket. Fortunately, you have a simple, free way to back up your Gmail account in one fell swoop: Gmail Backup.

Gmail Backup works with both Windows and Linux. Here's how to back up your Gmail in just a few minutes:

1. Download and install Gmail Backup. The install is quick and painless, and leaves you with a Start menu shortcut and a desktop icon.

2. Open Gmail Backup. Enter your full Gmail address and password, and choose the backup folder to which you'll save your messages. You can either use Gmail Backup's default folder or find/create your own folder by clicking Directory.

3. Choose which messages to back up. You can back up only the newest email messages, or you can back up all of your email from a specific date range. If you want to back up all of the email in your account, just select a 'Since date' from before you opened the account.

4. Start the backup process by clicking the Backup button. The process can take a long time if you have a lot of messages, so you can run it in the background. If you're interested in watching the progress, though, Gmail Backup will keep a running log of the email that it has backed up. You can also back up your account incrementally; in this procedure, Gmail Backup skips over messages that have already been downloaded into a particular folder.

5. If something should happen to your Gmail account later on, you can restore your messages from the Gmail Backup utility. To do so, enter the address and password of the Gmail account you'd like to restore the messages to, and then choose the backup folder that houses the messages from the account you'd like to restore from. These don't have to be the same account.

I tried Gmail Backup, just to make sure it really is as simple as it sounds - and it is. I was able to download messages from one account and 'restore' them to another account, and Gmail Backup kept all of my labels (including 'Inbox' and 'Sent') and attachments. Gmail Backup can't support characters that are not alphabetical or numerical (such as a forward slash or an asterisk) in labels, but aside from that little glitch (just rework your labels before backing up), this is a shockingly easy way to make a hard-drive backup of your Gmail account.

Gmail Backup backs up files in .EML format, which any desktop email client can open. The only drawback of Gmail Backup is that it doesn't back up chat logs - Gmail treats chat logs as a different animal, and doesn't put them in the 'All Mail' folder, which is the folder that Gmail Backup scours.

NEXT PAGE: Hotmail

  1. Access message even when webmail is unavailable
  2. Hotmail
  3. Yahoo

IDG UK Sites

Best Christmas 2014 UK tech deals, Boxing Day 2014 UK tech deals & January sales 2015 UK tech...

IDG UK Sites

Chromebooks: ready for the prime time (but not for everybody)

IDG UK Sites

Hands-on with Sony's latest smartglasses

IDG UK Sites

The 13 most inspirational Tim Cook quotes