Q: I saw that 150,000 Gmail users lost all of their messages and settings recently. I have thousands of important e-mails archived in my inbox. How can I avoid a similar problem?
150,000 people. That's a lot of people, a lot of accounts and a lot of lost e-mail. But Gmail is a wildly popular service and 150,000 accounts represents less than 0.08 percent of the entire user base. While Google "believes it can recover the missing e-mails," according to the Atlantic Wire, now is the time to consider backing up your data before something similar happens to you.
You have a few basic options when backing up your Gmail. Do you want to store your messages on another e-mail client or do you want to keep a local copy on your personal harddrive?
The simplest option is to open a second account on another (free) e-mail service and set up your first account so that a copy of all incoming messages are forwarded to the new address. Similarly convenient is the pay-for-protection route. It can get costly depending on how much storage you need, but paying for a service like BackupMyMail will allow you to sleep soundly knowing that your messages will be waiting for you in the morning.
If you'd prefer to keep a copy of your inbox on your harddrive or have searchable messages, consider using a desktop IMAP e-mail client like Mozilla's (free) Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook. Fetchmail is another popular (free) Unix-based service that, with a few lines of code, will back up your Gmail every night. Lifehacker's Gina Trapani wrote a step-by-step guide to implementing Fetchmail back in 2007 that is more relevant today than ever before.
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