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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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