Google Reader is Dead and Buried -- Now You Have a Limited Time to Back Up Your Data

Mark Wilson
Jul 2, 2013

The disappearance of Google Reader has been a long time coming, and this particular web based RSS reader is now no more. The chances are you have a number of starred items saved in Reader, and if you're quick you still have time to create a backup so the data can be transferred to another service.

Google Reader officially shut up shop on 1 July 2013. While your notes and starred items can no longer be accessed, it does not mean that they are gone forever.

Google Reader
Google Reader waves farewell

Thank you for stopping by.

Google Reader has been discontinued. We want to thank all of our loyal fans. We understand you may not agree with this decision, but we hope you'll come to love these alternatives as much as you loved Reader.


The Google Reader team

Providing you do so before 15 July 2103 (so you have less than a fortnight), you can use Google Takeout to safeguard your data before it is deleted forever.

To get start, head over to the Google Takeout website and sign into your Google account.

Google Takeout
Google Takeout can be used back up your data including that from Google Reader data

There's nothing to stop you from downloading all of your Google data at once, but for now we're only interested in Google Reader. Click the Choose Services button at the top of the page and then click the Reader button.

Takeout is rename Takeaway in some parts of the world

You'll be shown a summary that indicates the approximate size of the backup that will be created along with the number of files. When you're ready to continue, click the Create Archive button at the bottom of the page.

You might be surprised at just how much data Google Reader has generated

You should find that the backup does not take long to create. A progress bar will be displayed while the archive is built and you can then click the Download button to save it to your hard drive.

With your backup created, you can save it for posterity

You may well find that you're asked to log back into your account -- this is an extra security measure -- but you'll have your data very quickly.

As an extra security measure, Google may ask you to sign into your account twice

Extract the contents of the zip file and you'll find a series of files including an XML document that can be used to import your old feed subscriptions in to another reader.

Your Takeout backup expands to reveal multiple files

Note that most RSS services ask for an OPML file. It is usually no problem to select the subscriptions.xml file as is the same format that they come to expect.

The various JSON files -- covering starred items, notes and more -- can be viewed by installing a browser extension such as JSONView which is available for Chrome and Firefox.

With the browser extension installed you can import your starred items as bookmarks. This does mean that you will have to gradually sift through them all an organize them in a manageable way, but at least all of your data is still available to you.

Google Takeout
JSONView can help your convert JSON files into a more usable format

The import process is not as simple as you might first think. Start by opening a new tab and then drag the starred.json file from your extracted archive onto the browser window -- or you can hit Ctrl + O to browse to the file. Here we're working Firefox even though the bookmark will later be used in Chrome - the conversion process works better.

With the json file loaded, save the page as an HTML document -- this can then be easily imported. Click the Firefox menu and select Save Page As before opting to save it as an HTML file.

Google Takeout
Save your starred items as an HTML file so they can be imported as bookmarks

Once the HTML file has been created, it can be imported into whatever web browser you happen to prefer. In Firefox you'll need to click the Firefox menu followed by Bookmarks. Click the Import and Backup button followed by Import Bookmarks from HTML.

Google Takeout
The import process can take a while depending on the number of starred items you have

You'll end up with one large, unsorted list of bookmarks, but you can then manually organize those pages that you had previously starred.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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