DIY Backup from Google Apps

Google makes it easy to back up your cloud data. If you’re thinking “but my data is backed up if it’s in the cloud” then you need to read this. Using Google Drive for document storage is arguably a lot safer than storing on your laptop hard drive, even so there are some good reasons to have a local copy of your data.

Top reasons you need a backup of your cloud data

Where did my file go?

Accidental deletion is my first reason for having a backup. Once you delete a file in Google Drive (move to trash then empty trash) that file is gone. There is no getting it back – that would be a security issue if you could. I’ve seen this done accidentally and it is not a happy place to be in.

If you had a backup of your cloud data you’d be OK.


You have been warned – use strong passwords and turn on 2-factor authentication, but I know very few of you actually do this. If someone takes control of your iCloud or Google account they can pretty much wipe out every email, contact and data file you have stored there. Once in, it’s often possible to erase and lock out your phone too.

Having a back up at least means you can restore your own data while you revise your security.

I don’t have the internet at home / the beach / on an airplane

It’s totally possible to be away from the internet (really!) so having a local copy of your data is essential. In these cases I’d recommend Google Drive Sync or using the Offline Docs ability in Chrome which will let you create and edit your docs and ensure your data gets synced when you get back online.

How to back up Google Drive

Google Drive Sync is not backup

Firstly , how not to back up cloud. Google Drive Sync can’t really be considered a “backup”. Sure it keeps a local copy of files on Google Drive on whatever desktop / laptop you sync with, but the above scenarios will still destroy your data.

  1. you delete a file on any of your synced folders and it deletes on Google Drive and all other synced devices. And if you’re using Google Docs for editing your documents online notice that your local copy is only a link to the online document, not the document itself.
  2. if you get hacked your local copy will evaporate once it syncs with the “nothing” that’s left on Google Drive


Download a .zip file is backupdownload-zip

The quickest way to get your data backed up is by right-clicking on a folder in Google Drive (in the browser) and selecting “Download”. It will then ask you what format you want documents converted too, zip them all up and send them to you.

The document conversion option is great because it will convert the native Google Doc documents to OpenOffice or MS Office for you to open on your own computer. (Any existing doc / odt / xls files etc will download exactly as they are. Conversion is only done on native Google Doc formats).
Google Takeaway is backupGoogle Takeaway
Google Takeaway is your master backup area for all things Google. You’ll find the control panel under your account menu (your picture, top right), click on Account –> Download your Data. Click the “Download your Data” button to get to the full takeaway screen. Or just use this URL:

Click on “Choose Services” and you’ll see Drive as well as all the other Google products.

On the “Configure…” option you can specify the conversion of files to OpenOffice or MS Office and choose to download a single top-level folder or your entire Drive.