Gmail Backup

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 4, 2008
Updated • Mar 26, 2014
Email, Gmail, Software, Thunderbird

Even if you use an online service such as Gmail exclusively to manage your emails, you may want to back up your emails regularly to a local storage device.

The reason here is that you do not have control at all over your emails. There are many situations where this can be problematic: Google could close down Gmail, you may not have access to the Internet, emails may get deleted by a server failure or hacker attack.

Gmail Backup is a free program for the Windows operating system that you can use to run regular backup jobs so that all messages on Gmail get saved to the local system the software is running on.

Gmail Backup will backup all Gmail mail folders and mails they contain, including labels, dates and from fields.

Before the backup can be started users have to enable IMAP in the Gmail settings. Once that nuisance is out of the way it is possible to backup all Gmail messages with minimal interaction. If desired a time interval can be set to restore only emails of a certain period and not all of them.

Please note that you need to add your Gmail login address and password to the program to use it.

Interestingly enough emails will be stored in Microsoft's eml format which makes it easy to import the messages into other mail clients. Gmail Backup provides a restore option to restore previously backed up emails; Not necessarily though to the same user account since the name and password of the user account can be specified freely whenever Gmail Backup is being used.

An alternative to using Gmail Backup is to configure a regular email software client like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook to retrieve messages from Gmail. There is no restore option though for those messages, but you could forward them again to your mail address or resend them without forwarding.

The advantage is however that you may not have concerns adding your Gmail account to those programs.

Update: Gmail Backup has not been updated since 2009 which makes it likely that it won't work properly anymore. The developer has released it as open source licensed under GNU GPL v3 so that it is theoretically possible that someone else forks it now. Since it is open source now, it is also possible to audit the code of the program.

A far better solution nowadays however is the excellent MailStore Home software. It is a free program that you can use to backup Gmail emails, and emails from a lot of other providers and desktop applications.

When it comes to Gmail, all you need to do is select the Google Mail service from the available options, and enter your email address and password to get started. MailStore home will download all emails to the local PC so that you have them available backed up safely. The program comes with options to search the emails, or to import the emails back into a desktop application if you prefer that.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. gowrishankar said on November 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    gmail not showing gmail sign in page

  2. gowrishankar said on November 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    gmail site not showing

  3. praks said on November 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    No this actually works..
    It helped me to take back up.
    This app rocks..!

  4. Andrew said on July 29, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I use Opera’s Mail Client to backup all of my mailing accounts from Yahoo and Gmail.

  5. Sev said on July 1, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    People easiest way to backup is to use the forward function.. Create another gmail account and forward everything that comes into your email to the new account.

  6. Raiser said on May 27, 2009 at 12:52 am

    “There would not be an obvious restore option though for those messages.”


  7. Kenneth Lam said on May 1, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    When your GMail box close to the limit, just open 1 more GMail account, and “get” the email (by POP3) from old account to your new account. Then you are safe to remove emails.

    The reason why you don’t use a new one instead, is that it is hard to transfer all the settings to new GMail account. Also if you have already disclose the old email address already, it will be trouble to inform your friends again for the changes.

  8. Jon Smith said on February 27, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Nice program, but I need to backup the gmail frequently, how about add a scheduling function like the following one?

  9. Vince said on January 15, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Today Gmail initially refused to authenticate my login and said “Your account is disabled,” followed by rather severe warnings against possible spammers.

    Scared the living daylights out of me, and after re-initializing my browser and re-logging in, I immediately searched for a “Gmail Backup” program. 12 hours later it’s all backed up (as far back as 2004) and I feel much safer.

    Folks, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s taken from you without recourse. Back up your Gmail now if you want to keep your sanity, especially since Google seems to have a problem with login authentication from time to time, as far back as Feb ’07.

  10. Charles Gifford said on November 30, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Please get gmail working

  11. Flak said on November 12, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I was thinking the opposite, how to backup everything on google servers so I can be more secure.

    I use Gmail Drive and I use it for those kind of things, backing up my stuff, I wish I have a space on google servers, with at least 100 mb per file, so I dont need to split things in 20 mb ( gmail attachment).

  12. The Windows Fix said on November 5, 2008 at 8:16 am

    I’ll keep my trust in Google, until I reach the cap, which I don’t foresee happening in my lifetime.

  13. jaz said on November 5, 2008 at 1:58 am

    I wouldn’t trust entering my password into these third party programs, there was a similar program some time ago which sent the user details of everyone who used it to the creator’s GMail account.

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