There are a number of reasons why you might need to backup your email account. You might be changing an email provider, or you require a copy of your data for safekeeping in case of a cyber intrusion. Fortunately, Google has a feature that simplifies this process hidden within the Gmail account settings page.
Google Takeout provides an option to export and download various Google product data, including Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Play, and most importantly, Gmail emails.
Gmail data can be exported using MBOX or JSON formats and you can specify whether to export all emails or specific labeled content. Without further ado, let’s dive right in…
Make It Count
1. Log in to your Google Account.
2. From the Gmail page, click on the profile icon and select Manage Your Google Account option.
3. This opens up the Google Account dashboard for managing Google products’ settings.
Click on the Data & Privacy tab to open the data export page.
4. Scroll down to the Data from apps and services you use section and click on it.
5. Select the Download your data option.
6. The Google Takeout page opens to display all Google products linked to your account.
Deselect all the options and scroll down to the Mail option.
7. Data can be exported in two formats: MBOX or JSON.
- MBOX files are used to access the emails using email clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird
- JSON is reserved for user settings only.
8. Select the All Mail data included option to preview the data to be exported.
9. Specify the required labels, if any, or leave the settings as default and click OK.
Then scroll to the bottom of the page.
10. Click Next Step to preview the export settings.
The export can be sent by email (it will send a link to download the file locally), uploaded to your Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive or Box.
For Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box, you will need to link the respective account to your Google account. This is done before the export begins.
Please note that delivery by email exports are valid for 7 days from the date of export.
11. The exports can be run only once or scheduled to run once every two months for one year depending on the preference.
12. Export files can also be in .zip or .tgz formats. Select the desired compression format and proceed to the next option.
13. In case you have a lot of data, the content can be split up, based on the specified size. E.g., if the export size is 10 GB, and the split size is 2GB. Then 5 files will be generated for download.
14. Click “Create export” or “Link accounts” and create export to initiate the process if Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box were selected above.
15. After the process has completed, an email will be sent to your Gmail account to download and manage the export.
16. Clicking on Download your files will prompt you to verify your password before automatically downloading the exported content.
17. Extract the archive to display the exported mailbox. Please note that if everything was exported from Gmail, this will be one file. If multiple labels were selected, then multiple files will be generated.
18. MBOX files can be opened using a desktop email client, such as Mozilla Thunderbird or Mailbird.
Verifying the Exported Content
It is always a good idea to double-check the exported data to verify it contains the required emails. This can be done using Mozilla Thunderbird and a Feed Account.
1. Open Thunderbird and tap Feeds to create an empty Feed Account.
2. Click on Account Settings to map the exported files to Thunderbird.
3. Under the Message Storage section, click on Browse and open the folder containing the MBOX file(s).
4. Click Restart when prompted to restart Thunderbird and access the emails offline
Backups are important, not just for your movies, games, and applications, but also, emails.
Maybe you have that email that holds critical information for a certain account, or memories from old correspondence. Losing such data can be heartbreaking at best and disastrous at worst.
Take backups regularly. No single email provider is immune to data loss or theft. Doing your due diligence might just keep you afloat. Network Attached Storage (NAS) and external disks is recommended for big scheduled backups of all your digital content.