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Complete Guide to Gmail Backup

It comes a time when you need to keep all your important business emails or maybe personal emails that have got any value to you.

Hence backup your emails is as important as backing up your computer on external drive preferable even if Window offer to backup your computer on your internal drive namely C: drive either automatically or manually.

Saving your data can be valuable in many situations especially when official from government request back dating data as a form of email or letter sent or received as it happened to us here at Girlfridayz, having a few copies saved and even printed prove to be a life saver when a Tax Return blunder from the government happen in 2009 and we had to prove what we informed them years back in 2009 and they had sorted the matter in our favor back in 2009 but did not update their details.

As per government they are not very willing to admit to mistake so they have asked us to prove it. If we did not kept record of email and letter we would be in shit to prove it. So thank that we kept everything because that save us and our complain in 2017 about their inefficiency resulted in our favor and all overdue tax paid since 2009 returned promptly to our bank account in 2017.

Also in England it is a legal requirement to keep all your business data for 6 years or more after which you can destroy them. So if you want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives? read the paragraph below.

While Google has a strong track record of managing data, the fact remains that accounts could be hacked, and the possibility does exist that someone could get locked out of a Gmail account. Many of us have years of critical business and personal history in our Gmail archives, and it's a good idea to have a plan for making regular backups.

In this article we will discuss a number of excellent approaches for backing up your Gmail data. By the way, I'm distinguishing Gmail from G Suite, because there are a wide range of G Suite solutions. Even though Gmail is the consumer offering, so many of us use Gmail for all things, that it makes sense to discuss Gmail on its own merits.

15 ways to backup your Gmail

There are three main approaches which are On-the-fly forwarding, download-and-archive, and periodic or one-time backup snapshots. We will discuss each approaches in details.


Perhaps the easiest method of backup, if less secure or complete than the others, is the on-the-fly forwarding approach. The idea here is that every message that comes into Gmail is then forwarded or processed in some way, ensuring its availability as an archive.

Before discussing the details about how this works, let's cover some of the disadvantages. First, unless you start doing this as soon as you begin your Gmail usage, you will not have a complete backup. You'll only have a backup of flow going forward.

Second, while incoming mail can be preserved in another storage mechanism, none of your outgoing email messages will be archived. Gmail doesn't have an "on send" filter.

Finally, there are many security issues involved with sending email messages to other sources, often in open and unencrypted text format.

Gmail forwarding filter: The very easiest of these mechanisms is to set up a filter in Gmail. Set it to forward all you email to another email account on some other service. Lets say

G Suite forwarding: One easy way grab all incoming mail to your corporate domain. Your corporate domain ( is using a G Suite account. Your company-related email comes into the G Suite account, a forwarding filter is applied, and that email is sent on its way to your main Gmail account.(

the advantage is you have a copy of this email in another email account or another Gmail account. The disadvantage of this, is only one of your many email addresses is archived using this method, and no mail you send is stored.

SMTP server forwarding rules: For the longest time, I used Exchange and Outlook as my email environment and Gmail as by incoming mail backup. My domain was set to an SMTP server running at my hosting company, and I had a server-side rule that sent every email message both to Exchange and to Gmail.

You can reverse this. You could also send mail for a private domain to an SMTP server, but use another service (whether Office 365 or something free, like as a backup destination.

Forward to Evernote: Each Evernote account comes with a special email address that you can use to mail things directly into your Evernote archive. This is a variation on the Gmail forwarding filter, in that you'd still use Gmail to forward everything, but this time to the Evernote-provided email address. Presto all incoming email stored on your Evernote account.

IFTTT to Dropbox (or Google Drive or OneNote, etc): While this approach isn't strictly forwarding, it's another on-the-fly approach that provides a backup as your mail comes in. There are a bunch of great rules that link Gmail to storage services like Dropbox, and you can use to backup all your messages or just incoming attachments to services like Dropbox.

In each of these cases, you're essentially moving one cloud email store to another email store, so if you want something that you can physically control, the next strategy is for you.


The download and archive group covers methods that get your message store (and all your messages) from the cloud down to a local machine (ie: computer). This means that even if you lost your internet connection, lost your Gmail account, or your online accounts got hacked, you'd have a safe archive on your computer (and, perhaps, even backed up to local, offline media).

Local email client software: Perhaps the most tried-and-true approach for this is using a local email client program. You can run anything from Thunderbird to Outlook to Apple Mail to a wide range of traditional, old-school PC-based email clients.

All you need to do is set up Gmail to allow for IMAP (Settings -> Forwarding and POP/IMAP -> Enable IMAP) and then set up an email client to connect to Gmail via IMAP.

You want to use IMAP instead of POP3 because IMAP will leave the messages on the server (in your Gmail archive), where POP3 will suck them all down, removing them from the cloud.

You'll also need to go into your Label settings. There, you'll find a list of your labels, and on the right-hand side is a "Show in IMAP" setting.

You must make sure this is checked so the IMAP client can see the email stored in what it will think are folders. Yes, you might get some message duplication, but it's a backup, you could put up with the inconvenience and erase duplicated data later if it is bothering you too much as it would bother us at Girlfridayz.

Note: check your client configuration as some of them have obscure settings that limit just how much of your server-based mail it will download.

The only real downside of this approach is you need to leave a user-based application running all the time to grab the email. But if you have a spare PC somewhere or don't mind having an extra app running on your desktop, it's a versatile, reliable, easy win.

Backup Email Tools

Gmvault: Gmvault is a slick set of Python scripts that will run on Windows, Mac, and Linux and provides a wide range of capabilities, including backing up your entire Gmail archive and easily allowing you to move all that email to another Gmail account. Yep, this is a workable solution for easily moving mail between accounts. The link to it is in the subtitled where you can download it and try it - it a free open source software so grab it.

What's nice about Gmvault is that it's a command-line script, so you can easily schedule it and just let it run without too much overhead. You can also use it on one machine to backup a number of accounts. Finally, it stores in multiple formats, including standard ones like .mbx that can be managed in traditional email clients like Thunderbird.

Upsafe: Another free tool is Upsafe. Upsafe is Windows-only, but it's stone-cold simple. All you do is install the program, connect it to your Gmail, and download. It will do incremental downloads and even let you browse your downloaded email and attachments from within the app. The link is in the subtitled pink

Upsafe isn't nearly as versatile as Gmvault, but it's quick and painless. The company also offers a cloud backup solution, which listed as free, but also comes with a premium backup solution which increases storage beyond 3GB and allows you to select whether your data is stored in the US or EU.

MailStore Home: Yet another free tool is MailStore Home. Like Upsafe, Mailstore Home is Windows-only. What I like about Mailstore is that it has business and service-provider bigger brothers, so if you want a backup solution that goes beyond backing up individual Gmail accounts, this might work well for you. It also can backup Exchange, Office 365, and various IMAP-based email servers. The link is in the subtitle if you interested.

MailArchiver X can store your email in a variety of formats, including PDF and inside a FileMaker database. These two options are huge for things like discovery proceedings.

If you ever need to be able to do really comprehensive email analysis, and then deliver email to clients or a court, having a FileMaker database of your messages could be a win. It's been updated to be Sierra-compatible. Just make sure you get version 4.0 or greater. The link can be found in the pink subtitle.

Backupify: Back in the day, Backupify offered a free service backing up online services ranging from Gmail to (apparently) Facebook.

It has since changed its model and has moved decidedly up-market into the G Suite and Salesforce world and no longer offers a Gmail solution. The link it in the subtitle if you interested.

One-time backup snapshot:

one-time backup snapshots. Rather than generating regular, incrementally, updated backups, these approaches are good if you just want to get your mail out of Gmail, either to move to another platform or to have a snapshot in time of what you had in your account.

Google Takeout: The simplest of the backup snapshot offerings is the one provided by Google: Google Takeout. From your Google settings, you can export just about all of your Google data, across all your Google applications. Google Takeout dumps the data either into your Google Drive or lets you download a pile of ZIP files. It's easy, comprehensive, and free.

YippieMove: use YippieMove if you want to moved from a third-party Exchange hosting provide to Office 365, or if you want to move from Office 365 to Gmail. It's worked well both way. The company, disappointingly known as Wireload charges $15 per account being moved. The fee is well worth it, given its helpful support team. The link is in the subtitle if you interested.

From a Gmail backup perspective, you might not necessarily want to do a permanent migration. Even so, these tools can give you a great way to get a snapshot backup using a completely different cloud-based infrastructure for archival storage.


There is one more approach you can use, which is technically not forwarding and is somewhat more limited than the other on-the-fly approaches, but it works if you want to just grab a quick portion of your recent email, for example if you're going on holiday or a trip.

Gmail Offline, based on a Chrome browser plugin. As its name implies, Gmail Offline lets you work with your recent (about a month) email without having an active internet connection. It's certainly not a complete backup, but might prove useful for those occasional when you just want quick, offline access to recent messages -- both incoming and outgoing. The link is in the name if you want to install it part of your Chrome Apps.

If you find this article useful, comment and share, maybe you know of other backup email solutions and care to share.

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