Looking for Gmail backup solutions? Worried about increasing incidents of data breaches and security threats?

This article tells you everything you need to know about how to back up your Gmail account.

If you are an IT administrator, use our actionable tips, step-by-step guides, and best practices to make sure that your data is safe.

Introduction to Gmail Backup

Gmail has become the de facto email backbone for millions of individuals as well as organizations. Considering the need to protect data, questions around Gmail backup is popular among individuals, as well as IT administrators, who are scrambling to create a disaster recovery system in place.

Let’s look at some key numbers that point to the importance of Gmail backup:

With so many people using Gmail for their business communication, it become necessary to take measures that will keep your data safe and secure. In order to keep it safe, Backup is the only option left!

Can You back up Gmail?

Yes, you can backup Gmail. Refer to the table given below to learn how to backup Gmail.

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How Do You Back up Gmail?

Why Backup Gmail?

Google has built up a reputation for delivering always on, cloud applications for millions of users worldwide. They work with so much predictability and reliability that some of us might be lulled into a false sense of complacency.

Backing up your Gmail data is not an optional chore.

Here are the six reasons to Backup your Gmail Proactively.

Is Gmail Secure and Private?

In short, yes it is, but there are scenarios where Gmail is vulnerable to external attacks. There are many ways through which a third-party can hack into Gmail and steal your data, and often it is through an authentic-looking email or because one of your contacts were compromised.

Has Gmail Ever Been Hacked?

In May 2017 a massive phishing scam spread through the internet like wildfire affecting unsuspecting Gmail users. According to The Verge, attackers sent invites to edit a Google Doc from someone the may have known. If they click on the link it would send them to a real like Google page asking for permission to access their data. Once they grant access their emails and contacts were compromised.  To more about the incident click here.             

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How Do You Backup Gmail to Another Gmail Account?

The simplest way to have a Gmail backup is to automatically forward them to another email account. This way, even if you lose your emails in one account, it will be safe in an alternate account.

Google has an inbuilt feature to automatically forward your emails.

Here is how you back up your Gmail to another account:

  • Step 1: Login to your Gmail and go to “Settings”. You will find an option called “Forwarding and POP/IMAP.”

Email Forwarding

  • Step 2: Click on “Add a forwarding address” tab and enter your destination email id.
  • Step 3: A pop-up will appear for confirmation and upon clicking the “Proceed” button, a   confirmation code will be sent to your destination mail.
  • Step 4: Copy the code from your destination email.
  • Step 5: Go back to the “Settings” of your primary email.
  • Step 6: You will see an option in the forwarding menu asking you to enter the confirmation code.

Verification

  • Step 7: Enter the confirmation code and click on “Verify.”
  • Step 8: This procedure only adds your destination email to the primary id.
  • Step 9: To enable forwarding, select the “Forward a copy of incoming mail” option.
  • Step 10: You can add multiple emails for forwarding and customize your options.
  • Step 11: If you want to forward emails received only from a specific person or the emails that contain a particular word/subject, you can do so by customizing the forwarding option.

Note: Only those emails received after enabling the “Forwarding” option will be seen in the destination email account.

How Do You Save Gmail Emails Offline?

Post Office Protocol (POP) is an inbuilt feature of Gmail which lets you download your email to an email client – Microsoft Outlook. Once it is enabled, all important emails can be downloaded to an email client as a second copy. This copy will also be available offline. Deleting an email from your Gmail does not delete the copy downloaded to the email client.

POP was initially created to retrieve emails from the Gmail server to email clients like Outlook and not for creating second copies of emails. Even so, if you want to keep a second copy – available offline – of your emails to protect yourself against data loss, POP will be a good option.

How to enable POP?

  • Step 1: Navigate to “Settings” and select “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” option.
  • Step 2: Enable POP by choosing the radio button “Enable POP for all mail” or “Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on,” according to your need.

Enable POP

Note: To download your emails, you need to give login permission to email clients.

  • Step 3: To give login permission to email clients, navigate to “My Account” and select “Apps with account access” and toggle the “Allow less secure apps” option to “ON” condition to permit access.

Note: To enable this option, you have to disable two-factor authentication for your Gmail if you have enabled it. This compromises the security of your Gmail account and is ideally not recommended by Google.

Here is how you do it for Outlook:

  • Step 4: After enabling POP in Gmail security settings, you can configure your email client Microsoft Outlook to download your emails.
  • Step 5: You can launch Outlook and select add account by clicking on the “Info” option in the File tab.
  • Step 6: After adding an account, Outlook will take you to the configuration wizard. Enable the checkbox “Let me set up my account manually” to configure POP.

Outlook

  • Step 7: Select “POP” from the list of account type options that appear on the screen.
  • Step 8: Fill in the following details:
    • Incoming mail server: “pop.gmail.com” and its port: “995”
    • outgoing mail server as “smtp.gmail.com,” and its port: “465”
  • Step 9: Click on “Next” option.

Outlook1

  • Step 10: Enter the password for your Gmail account.
  • Step 11: Now your email client account is set up.
  • Step 12: Click on the “Send/Receive All Folders’’ option to download all your emails.
  • Step 13: This will generate a second copy of your emails.

Note: Any new email that you receive in your Gmail account after enabling POP will not be automatically available in your email client. The emails should be downloaded manually during regular intervals by clicking the “Send/Receive All Folders’’ option.

Since POP does not sync your Gmail with your email client, Google introduced a new feature called IMAP.

How to Backup Gmail Using Auto Archiving in Desktop Client

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is an alternate method to access your emails, even offline. Unlike POP, IMAP will synchronize your emails in Gmail with your email clients. Changes made in your Gmail will be reflected in the corresponding email client and vice versa.

How to enable IMAP settings in your Gmail account?

  • Step 1: Navigate to “Settings” and click on the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab.
  • Step 2: Click on the radio button “Enable IMAP.”
    IMAP
  • Step 3: Give login permission for email clients by navigating to “My Account” and clicking on “Apps with account access” and switching on “Allow less secure apps.”

Note: To enable this option, you have to disable two-factor authentication for your Gmail account (if you have already enabled it). This compromises the security of your Gmail account.

  • Step 4: Next, enter your login credentials in your email client to sync the emails.

Pro Tip: Since IMAP is the default protocol in Gmail, it is not necessary to click on “Let me set up my account manually,” unlike POP.

Once the credentials are entered, you are good to go.

After setting up your account, all your emails will be downloaded automatically in sync with Gmail, as shown below.

Downloaded Emails (IMAP)

Setting up Auto Archive in Outlook

  • Step 1: Click the “File” tab and select “Options.”
  • Step 2: Click on the option “Advanced>AutoArchive Settings”

AutoArchiving Settings

  • Step 3: Click on “Run AutoArchive every” and select how often you want it to run. By default, it will be set for 14 days. You can change it according to your need.
  • Step 4: Click on “Clean out items older than” option and set a time period to move your files from Inbox to the Archive folder.
  • Step 5: Click on the option “Move old items to:” and type a file name for the archived items to be transferred to, or click Browse to select from a list.

AutoArchiving Options

  • Step 6: Click on “OK”.

Depending on the time period, all your emails will be stored in the Archive folder, unless you delete it from there.

You can view the Archived emails by clicking on the “Archive” option.

Archive Option in IMAP

How to Backup Gmail Emails to Computer

If you use G Suite – formerly called Google Apps for Work – to run your business, your options to backup Gmail data are limited. Google does not provide any backup solution for its G Suite users. However other Google apps like Google Vault can be used to safeguard data to a certain extent.

For Basic plan subscribers, unfortunately, G Suite does not provide an admin-level backup. On the bright side, employees can take backup themselves using Google Takeout.

Note: Using Google Takeout shifts the responsibility of the backup to the employees. Hence, this is not a viable Gmail backup solution for any organization.

How to Use Takeout

To access Takeout, you can either use this link or if you have already logged into your Gmail account, click on “My Account→Personal & Privacy→Control your content→Create Archive.”

Pro Tip: Takeout allows you to have not just Gmail backup but also backs up all Google apps. Since we are only dealing with Gmail backup, select only the Gmail option.

Step 1: Enable the Gmail option on the Takeout screen.

  • Step 2: If needed, you can also choose what to download from your Gmail by using the toggle to the view options.
  • Step 3: After customizing your options, click on “Next” option to choose your:
    • File Type: Choose your desired file format as your destination file type
    • Archive Size: Select the maximum size for your download – if the size is greater than 2 GB, then it will be stored in multiple files
    • Delivery Method: Choose your delivery method
  • Step 4: Click on “CREATE ARCHIVE” button.

Archive

  • Step 5: Once you click the “CREATE ARCHIVE” button, data will be organized for you to download it to a storage device – computer, USB device etc. You will receive an email once the download is complete.
  • Step 6: Locate the email sent to your Gmail account and click on the “Download archive” button.
  • Step 7: Clicking on the “Download archive” button will redirect you to the sign-in page.
  • Step 8: Next, sign in to verify your account.

Verifying your account will automatically download your data to your desired hardware.

Note: The downloaded files will be available for only a week in your Takeout archive and will be automatically deleted after a week.

After being downloaded, the data will be stored in the MBOX format which can be viewed using the desktop email client Thunderbird.

If you are using Microsoft Outlook as your email client, use a converter that converts MBOX files into PST files to view your downloaded document.

To know more about Google Takeout, click here.

How to Backup Gmail Data Using Google Vault?

For those subscribed to G Suite business or enterprise plans, you have access to Google Vault to archive your data. Google Vault comes out of the box with G Suite.

You are not alone if you think Google Vault is a Gmail backup solution. Functionally, Google Vault is actually an archiving solution and not a backup & restore solution!

Surprising, isn’t it?

Backup and Archive are often perceived to be analogous. In reality, both of them serve different purposes and are contrasting in many ways.

Note: Google Vault does not cover Google Calendars, Contacts, and Sites.

Below are the reasons why Google Vault will not serve as a complete backup and restore solution,

  • One cannot restore any lost data as Google Vault does not have a built-in restore feature.
  • Archived Gmail data in Vault can be lost if the G suite account of a user is deleted. When an admin deletes a user from G Suite, all the data associated with the user is permanently removed from Vault, irrespective of the configurations.
  • You can lose data associated with services like Calendar, Contacts, and Sites since these services are not covered by Vault. Imagine losing all your meeting invites, access codes and contacts. You can’t afford to miss an important call with your client, can you?

How to use Google Vault?

  • Step 1: If you are the admin, log in using your G Suite credentials using this URL: ediscovery.google.com/. Once logged in, you will be taken to the homepage of Google Vault.
  • Step 2: Create retention by navigating to the retention module.
  • Step 3: Click on the edit option on “mail.”
  • Step 4: Set your default retention rule indefinitely – or for specific days.

Pro Tip: The Retention module is used to create retention policies. Retention helps in retaining the organizational data – stored in Gmail, Hangouts, Drive, and Groups – for as long as necessary, even if a user permanently deletes them.

Google Vault will now retain all your emails indefinitely, even when employees delete it from their inbox and trash.

If you want to know how to create holds and matters, set retention rules, and generate reports in Google Vault, check out Google Vault: The Ultimate Guide for IT Administrators 2019.

How to Backup Gmail Emails Using Third-Party Tools?

How to Backup Gmail Using Gmvault

You can also use a third-party tool to export emails from Gmail. Gmvault is an open source command line tool for creating Gmail backup.

The application can be downloaded from gmvault.org.

For quick installation, click on gmvault.org/install.html#quickstart

Note: You will need basic knowledge in using command-line tools to use Gmvault.

Launch the tool by clicking the Gmvault icon on your desktop.

How to use Gmvault?

  • Step 1: Open the Gmvault application.

    GmVault

  • Step 2: You can start the backup by giving the “gmvault sync your email id” command. For example, gmvault sync bruce@testing-team.com

    GmVault Sync

  • Step 3: Press enter after typing out the command.
  • Step 4: The tool will automatically create a folder in your computer where your backups will be stored.

    GmVault folder

  • Step 5: Press enter, and you will now be redirected to Google login page.
  • Step 6: Sign in using your credentials.
  • Step 7: Next, Gmvault will ask your permission to access your Gmail account.
  • Step 8: After giving permission, it will generate a key, as shown below.

    Key

  • Step 9: Copy the authentication key from your Gmail and paste it on Gmvault application.
  • Step 10: Press enter.
  • Step 11: Once enter is pressed, Gmvault will backup all your emails and chat transcripts to the above-mentioned folder.

Pro Tip: To keep your Gmail backup up to date, you can also set Gmvault to run regularly. This regular backup can be customized based on your requirement.

If you have enabled automatic backup with Gmvault, your Gmail backup will also be up-to-date. If you need help in using Gmvault, type the command: “gmvault – help” or click on the link: http://gmvault.org/in_depth.html.

Note: This is a time-consuming activity and would depend on the number of emails you have in your account. You can either set Gmvault to automatically back up your emails at regular intervals or you can do it manually.

How to Backup Gmail Emails Using SysCloud

If you are looking for an easier and reliable way to back up your email along with attachments – and effortlessly restore it – applications like SysCloud may be a good option to evaluate. SysCloud uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer a fully automated cloud for cloud backup and restore solution for Gmail. Click here to know why you should use SysCloud to backup your Gmail data.

Businesses can back up and restore their Gmail data for unlimited domains and have access to the backup data with just a few clicks using SysCloud’s Gmail Backup tool. Admins can define retention rules to retain the backup of users’ email for an unlimited period if needed.

Why Should You Use Cloud Backup Tools to Backup Gmail Emails?

Using third-party cloud backup tools like SysCloud, you can:

Here is how you can backup using SysCloud:

  • Step 2: Create an account or enter your credentials. You will then be taken to the homepage of SysCloud Suite of applications.
  • Step 3: Start backup by navigating to “Backup” → “Start Backup.”
  • Step 4: Start the backup by specifying the data to be backed up. For example, you can select either the entire domain, a set of users or specific organizational units depending on the requirement.

    Start Backup

  • Step 5: Next, select the accounts of the users you want to backup. Example: accounts of specific users, admin, CEO.
  • Step 6: Click on the “add” button.

The selected users on the left will be added to the backup list

(By default, SysCloud’s backup solution backs up the account data of Gmail, Drive, Sites, Calendar, and Contacts).

  • Step 7: To have only Gmail backup: click on “Settings” and then “custom configurations.”

Pro Tip: You can simply click on “Start Backup” if you want to proceed with the default settings.

  • Step 8: Select “Google Mail” and then click on “Start Backup” button. SysCloud will now begin to back up the selected users’ data.
  • Step 9: To view the progress, click on the “Archive & Restore” option.

Pro Tip: The Archive and Restore page can also be accessed by navigating to “Backup” → “Archive & Restore.”

Now, you have a second copy of your data safely stored in the cloud, and you can retrieve it when necessary.

Limitations of Using Native Backup Features for Your Business Gmail Emails

You can eliminate all these limitations by using SysCloud to backup your business Gmail data.

This article explores in-depth about backup of your Gmail Emails. But backup is just one part in securing your business data.

At the end of the day, the reason we backed up was so that we could recover permanently deleted Gmail Emails with all the folder structure intact.

Learn how to do this in our article ‘How to Recover Permanently Deleted Emails from Gmail?

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