gmail logoIf you want to backup your emails from Gmail to the local computer, enable POP3 access in your Gmail settings and then use a desktop mail client to download a copy of all your messages from the Google cloud to the local disk. That’s easy!

Windows Live Mail, Outlook and Thunderbird are some nice email clients that can automatically and easily bring your entire archive of Gmail messages offline.

Why you should backup Gmail to the cloud?

If you are not a huge fan of desktop applications or if you think that setting up a Gmail backup plan involves way too much effort, you can consider creating a backup of your Gmail account in the cloud itself. Before we get into the details, here are three situations where an online backup of Gmail messages will come handy:

Reason #1 – If your main Gmail account gets hacked (it happened to me), you will still have access to all your previous emails.

Reason #2 – If you delete an important email from your Gmail Inbox by mistake, you can easily retrieve it from the online backup. Google Apps Premier has Postini to restore deleted emails, here you’re getting that facility for free.

Reason #3 – If the Gmail service goes down (yes, it happens), you will still be able to read your older emails. Gmail outage won’t affect work.

Backup your Gmail Messages Online

There are three services that can help you automatically backup your Gmail (and Google Apps) email accounts online and luckily, they won’t cost you anything.

gmail mail fetcher

The first and most obvious choice is Gmail. Create a new Gmail account and under Settings – > Accounts and Import – > Check mail using POP3 – > Add POP3 email account, enter the email address of your main Gmail account that you want to backup.

Within an hour or so, the online mail fetcher program will pull messages from your main Gmail account and will copy them to your new “backup” account. In my limited testing, I found that Gmail’s mail fetcher left all the messages that were either “read” or have been previously downloaded by another POP3 client so it’s not “true backup.”

That brings us to another alternative –  copy your Gmail mailbox to Windows Live Hotmail. While you can add a Gmail account to Hotmail using POP3 (just like Gmail’s mail fetcher), there’s a much better and reliable option out there for copying emails from Gmail into Hotmail and it’s called TrueSwitch.

Copy Gmail Messages to Hotmail

Setup a new Hotmail account and TrueSwitch, an awesome web-based email account migration service, will copy all your emails and attachments from Gmail to your new Hotmail address. If you have a relatively large Gmail Inbox, the backup process might take up to 24 hours but you’ll get an email as soon as the transfer is complete.

Like Gmail, Hotmail too offers “expanding” storage so it can possibly fit your large Google inbox as well. You can then add your Gmail address to Hotmail (click “Add an email account” in the sidebar) and this will ensure that new messages that land in your Gmail inbox in the future are also saved in Hotmail.

That said, both the services discussed above have one common drawback – they’ll always backup your entire Gmail mailbox and you cannot limit the backup process to a specific set of folders (or labels in Gmail). So if you have a fairly large mailbox and don’t want to backup each and every Gmail folder (or label), try Backupify.

backup gmail folders

Backupify, as you know, can backup your online accounts (including Gmail) to Amazon S3 and a unique point about Backupify is that it lets you specify labels that should be included in the backup process. The messages are stored in the cloud as EML files that you can view inside Outlook or, you can change the .eml extension to .mht, and read the file inside IE.

Backupify supports XOauth so you can add your Gmail account to the service without having to share your Google Account credentials. They are not using a very practical format for saving messages but the advantage is that Backupify will scan your selected mailbox folders every single day for new emails and will archive them automatically.

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