About 150,000 Gmail users, or 0.08 percent of the webmail service, logged in over the weekend to see everything gone—email, chat logs, and attachments. Google's working to restore the accounts, but in the meantime, take it as another vivid reminder of the value of local backups.Normally, we take every opportunity to espouse the value of having offsite backups—files kept on remote servers, in the more likely chance that something happens to your system, your extra hard drive, your house. But having backups of material kept on distant servers is important, too. It's a small percentage (revised downward from an initial estimate of about 500,000 users, or 0.29 percent), but if you were inside that percentage, staring at an account that suddenly looked brand new, you wouldn't much care about that.
So! Back up your Gmail archives with one of many options:
- Use a desktop IMAP email client: Like the free Thunderbird, or Outlook, or Apple Mail. It's the best compromise of convenience, time, and cost (free).
- Pay for BackupMyMail: It's not free, but it is automatic and out of your hair. Pricing starts at $US19.95 per year.
- Forward messages to a secondary account: It only works for new messages going forward, but better late than never.
- Use the free fetchmail tool: It's Unix-y, and requires some command line entries, but it's not too hard.
- Using Getmail: As explained by Matt Cutts, it's another Unix command that takes a while to run, but eventually pulls down all your data.
For now, Google is offering this not-so-revealing message on their Apps Status Dashboard:
"Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change."
Do you have another way of backing up your Gmail archives that we should recommend?