With an uptime of 99.984 percent in 2010, it would be hard to argue with Gmail’s reliability. Unless of course, you happened to be one of the unlucky few who had to suffer through Google’s recent outage (caused by a software bug update), which included e-mail messages, and other data, disappearing.
Ben Treynor, Google vice president of engineering and site reliability, explained the snafu this way – “Some copies of mail were deleted, and we’ve been hard at work …….. getting it back for the people affected by this issue.”
I was amused by the bevy of tech journalist who underplayed the significance of this occurrence – sort of like “What’s the big deal. In the end, all was recovered – back to normal.” But, it is a “big deal.”
Cloud computing, and Gmail fits the definition of a “cloud computing” service – is not without its share of risks. It seems to me, that an absolute reliance on the unquestionable ability of any online storage service to recover from a potential disaster, is foolhardy.
If you’re undaunted by the possibility that Google is not immune from permanently losing your email correspondence, then you’ll see no need to backup your Gmail account.
But, if you’re like me, and you subscribe to a “never say never” point of view, then it would be prudent to backup your Gmail account locally to ensure you’ll have access to important emails – no matter the circumstances. And, Gmail Backup – a free minimalist Gmail backup application will help you do just that, efficiently.
Gmail Backup (which migrated from a commercial application to open source, in September 2010), is definitely without any bells and whistles, but it does what it says it will do, without any fuss or bother.
The application is designed to backup your Gmail account to a folder on your Hard Drive, and as an added bonus, you can restore back to Gmail.
Prior to using the application, it’s necessary to enable IMAP by clicking “Settings” – “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” in Gmail.
The application interface is simple and basic, as the following screen capture indicates.
For this test run, I downloaded 47,142 emails totaling 1.03 GB (that’s 6 years or so of emails), which took about 8 hours. The average download speed was an unimpressive 50 KB/s – sloooooow! But, that’s not related to the application – that’s a Google issue.
The application transferred this huge number of emails perfectly. I selected one at random for this test, as indicated by the arrow in the following screen shot.
Then, I opened that particular email in Thunderbird, to ensure the contents, and the attachments, were accessible.
Note: You don’t have to backup your entire Gmail account, as I did for this test. You have the option of choosing specific “from”, and “before” dates.
Gmail Backup is certainly not the most exciting application I’ve taken for a spin recently, but it’s basic functionality was impressive.
Not everyone has a need to backup their Gmail account (or agrees that it’s necessary), but if you do, then Gmail Backup is a free solution that’s worth taking a look at.
Note: As with all backups, the local folder should be copied to portable media – just in case.
System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, and a Gmail account of course.
Download at: Download.com
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