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Backup your Gmail messages

You must have heard about the Gmail incident that occurred today. 150,000 users found their e-mail accounts reset.

Remember the motto: “Shit happens.” Gmail is not an exception, so make regular backups of your mails.

Short version

Install Thunderbird, link it with your Gmail account with IMAP, and let Thunderbird synchronize your mails regularly.

Longer version

  • install Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Thunderbird 3.x has built-in support for Gmail, so it’s very easy to set up an account that links Thunderbird with your Gmail account. Create an IMAP account, not a POP3. You can also refer to this post for more info.
  • Don’t be greedy, don’t try to download all your mails in one session. Give it some days, otherwise you risk that Google shuts your account down because of the high load. Download about max. 1 GB a day.

More security

If you make a local backup of your mails, you should protect it. If someone gets to your machine, (s)he can read your mails, right? I suggest storing this backup on a TrueCrypt volume [more info here]. On my laptop, I have an encrypted partition of 20 GB, and I keep my backups there.

Another advantage

If you download your mails with Thunderbird, it has another advantage. As pointed out in this post, with Thunderbird you can sort your messages in descending order by size, thus you can remove messages with large attachments easily. If your Gmail account is 90% full, consider this method.

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