When I first started using Google Drive I saved everything there. Class projects, presentations for work, notes from meetings, resumes, recipes, and family mailing lists. You name it—all of my files lived in my Google Drive because of how easy it was to access and share them there.
However, the longer I used Google Drive, the more I used it while juggling different accounts (school, personal, and work). So, inevitably, I lost track of where some of my favorite files were located. But then I faced a real challenge: My university announced they would soon be deleting my year’s academic Google Accounts. I realized, as I considered this change, that a lot of important files and emails were on that account that I absolutely needed.
Whether controlled by work, school, or your housemate, Google Accounts are not permanent. Depending on the type of account you have, or who controls it, you may suddenly only have limited access to the account; you might lose your passwords and not have access to the means to reset them; the domain might lapse and get picked up by someone else; or, at the extreme end, your account could be hacked.
So whether you want/need to leave your Google Account for a new service, or you just want to save a copy of all your Google data to a second source, you need to understand how one retrieves and backs up content from a cloud sync service. We’ve outlined some simple steps for you to achieve that, here.
Like me, you may not have known that all your deleted files remained in Google Drive trash. I found some files in there that I had no idea I deleted and was so happy to retrieve, download, and save. Before October 13th, 2020 you should take a moment to download files that may be deleted if you want to keep them before they are gone forever.
How to Download from Google Drive
Log in to the Google Account you would like to copy your data from.
On average, people have two email accounts, so it is important to make sure you are logged in to the correct Google Account before you start this process. Once signed in, you will want to go to Google Drive itself: drive.google.com. From there, click on the top right corner of the page where your account profile image is located and a drop-down menu (like the one pictured below) will appear.
Select “Manage your Google Account” and you will be led to a new page where you will have four different options to choose from. Select the section labeled “Privacy & personalization.” This is where you will see what data, activity, and preferences your Google Account has associated with it. From here you want to select “Manage your data & personalization” which will bring you to the page where you can download your data.
Once you get to the new page, scroll down to the section labeled “Download or delete your data” and select “download your data.” This will lead you to a new website named Google Takeout. Here, you can export a copy of the content in your Google Account to keep on a local storage source. A reminder before we go forward: this is going to download your data, but it does not delete it from your Google Account.
Select the data you want to download.
On this page, you can select to download an archive of your Google Drive and also your Chrome bookmarks, transactions from various Google services, locations stored in Google Maps, Google Drive contents, and other Google-related products you may use.
When most people think about downloading the data they store in Google Drive, they’re thinking about the documents, photos, and other larger files they work with, but as Google Takeout makes clear: You have a lot more data stored with Google outside of Drive.
Here’s why you might choose to export everything: to have a copy of bookmarked websites, to have a copy of emails that may contain files you’ve lost over time, or to have a copy of important voicemails from loved ones in Google’s Voice product that you want to keep forever. Also, when you download all of your data it is a good reminder of what information Google has on you.
Decide how you would like your files to be delivered.
Once you have decided what parts of your Google data you would like to download, you will have to pick what file type you would like it sent as, the frequency you would like this action to happen (example: if you would like your data to be downloaded every six months this is where you can set that to happen), and the destination you would like your data to be sent to.
When picking a destination for where your data will be sent once you download it, you can choose from having the files emailed to you or sent to a sync service (if you use one) like Dropbox or OneDrive.
Depending on the size of your data, Google may send you multiple emails with different sizes of files. You can choose to have these files sent as a .zip file or a .tgz (tar) file. The main difference between the two options is that a .zip file compresses every file independently in the archive, but a .tgz file compresses the archive as a whole.
What to do once you have your data in your inbox.
An email will appear in a few minutes, hours, or a couple of days (depending on the size of data you are downloading), informing you that your Google data is ready to download. Once you have this email in your inbox, you have a week to download the data. Click the “download your files” button in the email and—presto—you will have a .zip file or a .tgz file (depending on what type of file you picked) on your computer with your Google data.
Backing Up Your Google Drive
You now have your data with all of your important work out of the Google cloud and on to your operating system. What’s next? Protecting your newly downloaded Google data with a good cloud backup strategy should be the next thing you do.
Make sure to have at least two backups: one local, on your desktop or on a hard drive, and one in the cloud. (The word “cloud” may be confusing since you just had your data in a sync cloud service but we’ve found a simple way to define sync vs. backup.) Having two (or three) backups of your newly downloaded data ensures that you will never lose those projects you spent hours working on.
Do you have any techniques on how you download your data from Google Drive or other Google products? Share them in the comments section below!