Review

Review: Protecting your Gmail and cloud data with Backupify

Gmail has been my personal email system since the days when it was invite only, back when its announcement sent shockwaves through the free mail world of the times. When a few megabytes was all Hotmail would give you, a gigabyte sounded like unlimited. Since then, Google's mantra of archive everything and delete nothing has led to Gmail becoming an treasure trove of information for most people. The amount of data that is only a search term away is only one reason why I protect it with their two-factor authentication.

From the a user standpoint, I obviously have put a lot of faith in Google's ability to protect my data, both from theft but also from destruction.

But as experienced system administrator, I know that technology and people make for interesting bedfellows. While having never run a mail system on the scale of Gmail, even dealing with a few thousand peoples corporate inboxes will tell you that you need to have a good backup. Drives fail, operating systems fail, infrastructure fails. Hell, I’m not afraid to admit that even sometimes I mistakes. (It’s rare, but possible.)

Sometimes using Gmail does have hiccups.

It's not just Gmail though where my data is stored in the cloud. Other Google services such like Docs contain invaluable data. As an avid photographer I have quite a collection of image on Flickr and Facebook, and then there is my social presence Twitter. While the raw "digital negatives" for my photography are backed up offline and online through other systems, it's would be nice to know that the finished product shared with the world can be protected as well. All of this social data being created and shared, but not easily archived, so how does one go about protecting all of this data that is stored on systems not under their control?

For me, it's Backupify.

Backupify is a freemium service that can protect a variety of data on services such as, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Picasa, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, and LinkedIn.

Backupify uses the native APIs that each service provides to access and then backup your data, and stores it away from the original source, in this case on Amazon's S3 service. Because it's using public APIs you're not going to anger providers like Google, and since S3 is geographically distributed and replicated the risk of your backup dropping off the Amazon cloud is non-existant.

The free service will allow you to backup three services, and up to 1GB of information. If your Gmail account is bigger than that, you’ll need to move up to the $5 per month plan. Along with increasing your storage amount to 10GB, you’ll gain the ability to add two more services. For most users this seems to be a good amount. However, more serious messengers will want to step up to the $20 plan enabling unlimited accounts and unlimited storage.

In addition to increased storage space and accounts, both of the paid versions enable nightly backups of your data as opposed to weekly backups on the free version. It also entitles you to phone support, something that is somewhat unusual in the era of forums, KBs and email support.

I highly recommend Backupify, as it is a service that I’ve used for nearly a year to protect my Gmail. Even though (thankfully) I’ve never had to rely on it, I have the piece of mind of knowing my data is protected. When I originally signed up for the service a year ago, and after my first full backup was completed, I got a nice email from a guy named Ryan at Backupify who said he was my personal support representative. I was immediately impressed and thought it was a nice personal touch for a free service to reach out and contact me directly.

Their interface is direct and easy to use. Browsing your backup archives is simple, and you can restore individual items back into Gmail or download them individually outside of Google’s system.

Now, I'm sure Google will backup your data. But have you ever thought about what would be required for you to restore an individual message or set of messages? Yeah, if a Google server goes down, you're probably not going to lose anything in the long term. What would you do if you accidently delete something, or want about if Google suffers a failure that leaves your data unaccessable for days or weeks, what if they go under tomorrow, or they become evil? Wouldn't you want a safe backup for all that email?

It would be nice to see Backupify add support for other providers like Hotmail or iCloud, but they're off to a very solid start with Gmail.

All and all, I think it's a really solid service and I suggest it for anyone who wants to keep their cloud data protected. For the base price of free, it's a service that can't be beat.

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I use Thunderbird with pop3 access from Gmail. Then anything I really give a **** about I have categorized in Thunderbird. I then have my Thunderbird folder backed up to drive S, an external drive in my house and an external drive in my safety deposit box as well as a 4th copy on Carbonate.

The day I decide to backup my Gmail contents (because I don't use anything else besides Gmail and a Blog which I can easily download), I'll just configure a pop3 account and dump those few gigs into a PST file. But it's cool to have something like this, too bad the free bit is only for 1gb.

recursive said,
I run a small server at home that runs Zimbra. Backs up nightly to my NAS.

you sure thats safe enough? should have another off-site backup!

Every few months I open Outlook on my home computer and let it download all of my Gmail since the last time that it ran. I also export my Google Docs to my local computer.

I expect Google to have adequate backups, but I just want to have an extra backup in my own hands. Cloud to cloud backup is not going to solve that. It also makes your data slightly less secure.

Chugworth said,
Every few months I open Outlook on my home computer and let it download all of my Gmail since the last time that it ran. I also export my Google Docs to my local computer.

I expect Google to have adequate backups, but I just want to have an extra backup in my own hands. Cloud to cloud backup is not going to solve that. It also makes your data slightly less secure.

This.
Also, it is similar in principle to using a credit card to pay for another credit card. You are simply transferring the issue, not solving it.

The problem is that a personal gmail account is free to backup but the won't allow google apps users to use the service for free.

Yeah....thanks....it sounded sweet until I saw the PRICE & PLANS tab......no thanks. So Gmail is free yet I have to pay for this, neeeext.

vladmphoto said,
Yeah....thanks....it sounded sweet until I saw the PRICE & PLANS tab......no thanks. So Gmail is free yet I have to pay for this, neeeext.

Gmail is only free because Google can sell your information. You're paying for it, just not with money.

shihchiun said,

Gmail is only free because Google can sell your information. You're paying for it, just not with money.

The only information they can sell is your behavioural information. This includes things like your likes/dislikes, keywords in your content etc. It's not exactly top secret material. Amazing, you are a number out of millions upon millions of other numbers, very scary stuff!?!?! Trust me, I know Google's business model, no need for a lecture.

vladmphoto said,

The only information they can sell is your behavioural information. This includes things like your likes/dislikes, keywords in your content etc. It's not exactly top secret material. Amazing, you are a number out of millions upon millions of other numbers, very scary stuff!?!?! Trust me, I know Google's business model, no need for a lecture.


you also know your gmail is stored unencrypted on their servers for anyone who has access to read it?
also that the US government has full access to Google's info

Shadowzz said,

you also know your gmail is stored unencrypted on their servers for anyone who has access to read it?
also that the US government has full access to Google's info

Does any email provider do it? No, so why are we talking about this? Also, I could care less if the US government has full access to it. I have nothing to hide and nothing personal on there. No email of mine contains any credit card details, passwords, bank statements and such. They contain things like my name, personal address, phone numbers......stuff that is public anyway. Stop this paranoia **** already.

Why not use Thunderbird instead to archive everything locally? Am I the only one seeing the "bird" in the room?

Why would you backup to the another cloud when a cloud is what failed you in the first place?

Jebadiah said,
Why not use Thunderbird instead to archive everything locally? Am I the only one seeing the "bird" in the room?

Why would you backup to the another cloud when a cloud is what failed you in the first place?


or as me, set live/hotmail mail to retrieve the mail from gmail. this way i got it backed up, plus its a way to slowly get my personal information away from an information hungry monster like google.

Jebadiah said,
Why not use Thunderbird instead to archive everything locally? Am I the only one seeing the "bird" in the room?

Why would you backup to the another cloud when a cloud is what failed you in the first place?

"The cloud" isn't just one entity. Gmail becoming inaccessible for whatever reason does not mean the rest of the internet also stops working.

Shadowzz said,

or as me, set live/hotmail mail to retrieve the mail from gmail. this way i got it backed up, plus its a way to slowly get my personal information away from an information hungry monster like google.

Yep, hotmale and M$ are the saints and gmail and Google are the devil.

recursive said,

Yep, hotmale and M$ are the saints and gmail and Google are the devil.


big difference between both. google sells your information for anyone who gives money for it.
MS makes money selling windows, office and cooperate products. not by selling your info.

how the company uses my information is what matters to me. MS for their own, or Google for anyone who pays?

and i dont care for my searches or what i post on facebook or whatever (if i post anything that is). but my mail is something personal. and just knowing that any dude at Google can access it, that the information in the mails i receive and send, are beeing sold to 3rd parties.

its just good to know MS is not doing me a favor with providing me free mail by selling all the information it can to 3rd parties.

I am backing up Gmail to my PC with the free Portable MailStore Home.

MailStore Home Supports these Email Sources:

Internet mailboxes such as Gmail or Yahoo! Mail
Any POP3 and IMAP mailboxes
Microsoft Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, 2007, 2010
Microsoft Outlook Express and Windows Mail
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, 2007, and 2010 mailboxes
Microsoft Office 365 (Exchange Online)
Hosted Exchange mailboxes
Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey
.EML and other email files

exactly! "since S3 is geographically distributed and replicated", you think Google doesn't already do this? it is the silliest thing i have heard, to backup the cloud in the cloud.

KayMan2K said,
exactly! "since S3 is geographically distributed and replicated", you think Google doesn't already do this? it is the silliest thing i have heard, to backup the cloud in the cloud.

Yo dawg, I heard you like backups...

rippleman said,
doesn't Google already make 4 backups of gmail accounts? so this will make it 5?

There's nothing stopping Google from shutting down your account. What will you do then? It won't matter how many backups Google has, because you can't access any of them.

Thanks,
Somebody I know has been looking for something like this. Sounds like it could backup everyone's Google Apps accounts in an organisation