One of my readers posed a question about backing up Gmail emails, keeping them offline, and accessing them for research as needed. Thus, this post came into being and it talks about backing up Gmail and Yahoo, using their own tools, third party tools and Mail App.
You might wonder how this relates to privacy. If you are planning on backing up your email with the purpose of deleting your account permanently, you need to know that these free email providers will keep your data live for at least 60 days. Moreover, if you have been using a platform such as Outlook, Mail or Thunderbird to read your emails, then you have them archived in your hard drive as well.
How to back up Gmail?
I like to use Google’s Takeout which you can access here Make sure you are logged into the Gmail account you want to back up.
Select all the products you would like to back and click Next. Under the Customize Archive Format, I recommend selecting .zip Under delivery method, if you have a Dropbox account, you can have it sent it there. Otherwise, select via email. I prefer the email method because I do not want to give Google access to my Dropbox.
The last window you see it is Google telling you that it is preparing your archive and it will arrive via email. It could take a very long time (hours and even days to create) depending on how much data you have.
Thus, you can create individual archives rather than compiling all (Gmail, contact, YouTube, Hangouts, etc.) in one.
For Windows computers, you can use the Gmail Backup. Follow the instructions on the screen.
For Apple computers, you can use Mail to bring all your Gmail emails. Once all of your emails are in, right click on the Mailbox and select Export Mailbox. As destination, you can use Dropbox here or an external hard drive. The point of this back is to have them separately than the computer you use to read them.
Your Mac also stores the emails on the hard drive. To find the folder, go to Finder and on the top menu bar, select Go. Then, press the Option key and you will see the Library folder. Click on it and go to Mail. You will see all the archives there.
If you are very computer savvy and have a Mac, you can download the Gmail Backup software here . Then, open the Terminal. Go to the directory of the program. Run the program and replace “dir” with the directory name you want to use and your email address with your own password. These two articles have detailed explanations: 1) Gmail BackUp; and 2) Makeuseof.
How to back up Yahoo emails?
There is a third party software called Yahoo Back. Once you install the software and launch it, you will need to complete the information for your Yahoo user account. Then, select an email format. Click on Browser button to select the location where you want to store the backup (external hard drive or Dropbox).
What is in the backup?
The backup does not contain Spam or Trash emails. In Google, using the Takeout tool, you can also backup your Gplus circles and hangout, and many more.
Can I delete the accounts?
Yes, once you have created a backup and you are confident that it is stored in a safe location, you can go ahead and get rid of the Gmail or Yahoo email accounts if you no longer desire to keep them active.
How do I restore my back up?
You can restore the back up by importing the file back into any application able to read email: Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird. Your computer does not need to be connected to the Internet for you to be able to read all these emails offline.
Does Google keep your data live after deleting the account?
As far as I was able to interpret from the small print in the Google’s Term of Use, your data is live for 60 days after deleting your email and your account. Ellery Davies, and I second his view, believes that Google is a protector of privacy and it deletes accounts as requested; however, Google might keep a hash for marketing purposes without being able to identify the user. Remember my saying that when we use free tools, we are the product. Regardless, of all free email service provides, Google is the only one I trust.
That is all for now. Thank you for reading!
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About the Blog
This blog is updated on a bi-weekly basis and it will address a variety of topics concerning cybertechnology, privacy and ethics in the cyberspace domain.