Skip to main content

How to backup your Gmail account

Gmail (opens in new tab)might be the most popular email service in the world (opens in new tab), but even the biggest players fall sometimes, and once that happens, the little guys will be there to cheer.

Server outages and crashings have happened before, and even though Gmail is generally seen as a solid, well-built and stable product, it too can crash, leaving you without all those precious emails you've been saving.

If you're keeping some really important stuff on your Gmail account (and I'm guessing a lot of you are, as 425 million of you are using the service (opens in new tab)), you might want to consider backing that mail up every once in a while, just in case.

There are a couple of ways to back up your emails, and the easiest one would be to use an email client, be it Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird or any other. The other way is to download a third-party email backup app to do the bidding for you.

So without further ado, let’s get down to it:

Back up using desktop email clients

If you’re using Microsoft Windows, you most likely have Outlook installed. Outlook is an email client with the very useful feature of downloading all your mails to your hard drive. All you need to do is link it up with your Gmail account in a few quick steps and you’re safe. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Open your Gmail account in the browser
  • Press Settings (the gear icon) and navigate to Settings
  • Go to Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab and press Enable IMAP
  • Save changes
  • Open Outlook
  • File > Info > Add Account
  • Add your Gmail account: Select the bubble directly left of the E-mail account option and enter your name, Gmail address, and password.
  • Press Next, Finish.
  • Now all you need to do is occasionally run Outlook so that it downloads your emails.

On Mac

Apple works on a principle similar to Windows:

  • Launch the Mail app
  • Mail > Preferences > Accounts
  • Select Google from the list of available mail accounts, and enter your name, Gmail address, and password before clicking the Set Up button in the bottom right-corner of the window.
  • Done.
  • Now you should occasionally open the app to download your mails.

The other way to back up your emails is to use third-party software such as Gmail Backup (opens in new tab), Fetchmail (opens in new tab), Backupify (opens in new tab) or Gmvault Gmail Backup (opens in new tab).

All of these apps work in a similar fashion to your email clients and require your account’s credentials in order to work.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.