How to back up your Google and Microsoft accounts for safety

Download backups of your Gmail, Outlook mail, contacts and calendars

Microsoft, Google and others provide all-in-one services that contain everything you need, including office apps, email, notes, calendar, storage and more. They are good, but there are risks.

The main risk is that you could lose access to your account for some reason. You might get hacked – do not use the same password everywhere! There might be a network, internet or server glitch that causes your content to be erased. You might have your account suspended.

Problems with Google and Microsoft accounts are rare, but they do occasionally happen and even if you never need it, you should always have a backup of everything you have online. Both cmpanies provide the means to download a copy of everything online and you should make use of these services to make sure your personal data like email, contains, notes, tasks, calendar and other items are protected with a backup.

A backup is like insurance. You may never need it, but you will be glad you have it if you ever do.

Backup Outlook content

  1. Go to outlook.com in a browser
  2. Click the gear icon in the top right corner
  3. Click View all Outlook settings
  4. Select General in the first column
  5. Select Privacy and data in the second column
  6. Click Export mailbox in the third pane
  7. You will be emailed when the backup is ready
Backup Outlook emails, calendar and contacts
Backup Outlook

It can take up to four days for Microsoft to gather all your data and make it available for download. It includes email, calendar and contacts. You can return here and check whether it has been done, in which case there will be a download link, or you can wait for an email notification saying it is ready.

Outlook backup with email, calendar, contacts and more
Download a backup of your Outlook content

All you need to do is to click the link and save the file to your computer. It contains almost everything, but not quite. OneDrive files are not included. If you want to back them up, use OneDrive on the computer. There is an option in OneDrive to store files online only, or both online and on the computer. Providing files are on the disk, a normal backup of the disk will make a copy of them.

Backup Google account and files

  1. Open a browser and go to takeout.google.com
  2. Select all the items you want to back up
  3. Click Next step at the bottom of the page
  4. Select the export options and click Create export
Google Takeout: Export your Google account data
Google Takeout: Export your Google data

Google has so many services that the resulting download could be hundreds of gigabytes. It includes big things like Google Drive files, Blogger and Classic websites, and Google Photos. The list is very long and very comprehensive, which is nice, but it could take forever to download.

I recommend using the option at the top to deselect everything and then just tick the items you really need, like Gmail, Contacts, Calendar and Keep. There are some things you really don’t need, like your Google News preferences and similar things.

Google Takeout export options
Google Takeout export options

After selecting the content and clicking the Next step button at the bottom of the page, there are some interesting and useful export options. For example, your data can be exported just once or it can be exported every two months for a year. You could run this again this time next year to keep the exports coming.

At the top are delivery method options. The simplest is selected by default, which sends you an email with a download link. However, other options include Dropbox, OneDrive and Box. You would need to have a lot of space on them though. It is best to download it to disk where there is probably more space and then backup the computer’s disk.

The export process can take hours or even days if you include Google Photos and Google Drive, so keep an eye out for the email saying it is ready.

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