How to: Archive your Google data

Whilst many are still uncomfortable with storing their data in ‘the cloud’, more and more of us are embracing the change and using services such as Google Drive, dropbox etc to our advantage.

One of my favourite features of Google+ is the automatic upload feature, which for the first time means I don’t need to worry about transferring important photographs from my phone to the PC when it either gets full or I decide I need to do a factory reset. I also enjoy having instant access to every message i’ve ever sent via email on demand via Gmail.

Despite enjoying the benefits of the cloud, I still have two significant reasons for wanting to keep a local backup. The first, for personal reasons, I don’t like the risk of losing my thousands of family photos due to some sort of epic Google fail (rare I know but who wants to risk it). The second and possible more valid concern is work related, as a Google App for Business admin I often close accounts for staff who have left the business. As users require a license, I don’t want to continue paying a license fee for staff who have moved on, but at the same time I don’t want to risk permanently deleting their data.

The solution to these issues is provided in the form of Takeout. Google Takeout presents itself as an easy means of leaving Google and taking your data somewhere else, though it also serves as a useful and fairly comprehensive means of getting your stuff out of the cloud so that you can stash in on a good old fashioned hard drive.

Upon choosing to ‘Create an archive’ you are presented with a number of options depending on the products you have used. From these you can select which you would like to include in your archive. Many of these seem fairly pointless, why anyone would like an HTML file containing their Google Plus ‘+1s’ will remain a mystery to me!
Here’s what I was offered …
  • +1s
  • Bookmarks
  • Calendar (All calendars)
  • Contacts (vCard format)
  • Drive (PDF and 3 other formats)
  • Google Code Project Hosting
  • Google Photos
  • Google Play Books (HTML format)
  • Google+ Circles (vCard format)
  • Google+ Pages (HTML format)
  • Google+ Stream (HTML format)
  • Groups
  • Hangouts
  • Helpouts
  • Keep
  • Location History (JSON format)
  • Mail
  • Maps (your places)
  • Orkut
  • Panoramio
  • Profile
  • Tasks
  • Voice
  • Wallet
  • YouTube
Upon selecting which options you would like included in your archive, Google begins to generate group of ZIP, TGZ or TBZ files containing your data. This process can take anywhere between five minutes and five hours, but once complete you are notified by email or the files can be added to your Google Drive automatically.
In my case, I am presented with thirty or so ZIP archives each of which must be downloaded. In my expirience, this is the only real pain in the process.
Once downloaded they are sent straight to my local NAS drive and nightly sleep is restored!

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