October 17, 2008 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I want to create a complete backup of my gmail account. Is there an easy way to do this?

I currently use gmail as my primary email account. Call it the "googly" account. I would like to create a complete backup, the "googlybackup" account, so that I have copies of everything in case the googly account gets compromised in some way.

Ideally, I want to transfer everything in the googly account right now into the googlybackup account - e.g., inbox, sent mail, and all archived messages, preserving all tags, etc. - so that the googlybackup account is a "snapshot" of the googly account. I know that I can manually forward and then retag everything, but that would take a looong time. Is there a relatively easy way that this can be done?
posted by googly to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
POP3. Pull all your mail down to a local filestore.
posted by mkultra at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2008

POP3 will not preserve tags. Maybe pull it into a local email client via IMAP.
posted by GuyZero at 12:09 PM on October 17, 2008

Good point. I thought about recommending IMAP, but it's tricky because you need to be careful about not making changes on the server.
posted by mkultra at 12:27 PM on October 17, 2008

You might be able to use this software. It claims to support gmail, and support imap to imap account syncing.
posted by timmow at 1:08 PM on October 17, 2008

IMAP will sync with the google account when you run it. So if you use imap for backup, recopy that backup elsewhere. A cool backup solution might be having cron run imap plus svn or git on the imap folders, meaning you have continuous backups. So you could freely edit your email folder but have the ability to return to any point in the past.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:42 PM on October 17, 2008

Response by poster: IMAP is looking pretty good, as it does seem to preserve tags. Still would like a way to do this directly gmail-to-gmail, but if not this will do. Thanks!
posted by googly at 2:03 PM on October 17, 2008

It doesn't preserve the tags to my knowledge, but the forwarding capabilities of one GMail account to another would work for part of the question. Just go into settings, forwarding link, and do a forward to googlybackup@gmail and to keep the original in the inbox.
posted by deezil at 4:06 PM on October 17, 2008

I'm not sure what point gmail-to-gmail backup would serve. If gmail goes offline then you're screwed. And if it's up... you can get to the primary account. You have to backup your email offline otherwise there's not really any point.
posted by GuyZero at 4:20 PM on October 17, 2008

Response by poster: True, guyzero, so I am definitely backing it up offline just to have all the emails somewhere. But I'm also thinking about the possibility that someone gets ahold of my gmail password and changes it, making my own account inaccessible. It would be nice to have a backup gmail account that perfectly mirrors the current one so that, as I am sorting things out with the original account, I can seamlessly use the backup.
posted by googly at 4:56 PM on October 17, 2008

imapsync is a tool to roll your own with.
posted by kcm at 6:00 PM on October 17, 2008

Worried about your Gmail account being compromised? Honestly, a strong password will do more for you than a kooky scheme to "backup" your email to another account on the same service.

Personally, when I switched my domain's email to Google Apps for Domains, I stopped making local backups. Google's way better equipped to not lose my data than I am.
posted by mkultra at 7:18 PM on October 17, 2008

Alpine's mailutil can download entire IMAP hierarchies. I haven't used it for Gmail yet, but I've used it for other hosts for years.
posted by grouse at 10:10 PM on October 17, 2008

Best answer: I just used imapsync to upload all my 8000 emails from my home IMAP server to a new GoogleApps account... It need to be run several times for some reason but no emails were lost... It also only transfers the changed/missing mails, so once the first backup is done, remaining backups will be quicker as they will only be incremental backups.

You tags will be converted to IMAP folders. This will mean that you might have several copies of the message on the recieving side, but if you ever need to restore, the tags should be merged back (I have never tried doing a restore)..

Google "imapsync gmail" for a few guide.

The disadvantage: it needs an IMAP server on the non-gmail side (I was using cygwin running uw-imapd from xinetd, and that was a bit complicated to set up at first).

Note that in the T+C's for Google Apps they cannot be held liable for any loss of data (even for the paid service), and from the posts in the help forum (search for 'restore'), they are not very helpful in the case of accidental mail deletion either, so backups are always a good idea.
posted by nielm at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2008

... and imapsync will sync from gmail to gmail (but it will be slow as it will be:
gmail -> your PC -> gmail
posted by nielm at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2008

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