Maybe I was lucky that GMail “fell down and went boom”:http://www.momathome.com/viewfromhome/misc/gmail_beta_with_the_emphasis_on_beta.php on me so soon after I got an account. It made me think about how much I should trust my data when it’s on a server somewhere and I can’t immediately lay my hands on it. When you download your POP3 email into a client *you* get to choose what you’re saving and how you can pull an old email back up later. For example, I really don’t care what happens with old mailing list traffic. Most email lists have online archives so I save the posts in my client for a week or so and then run whatever rules or scripts to delete them and save the space. That’s what made GMail ideal for those messages. But, for personal mail I have everything saved. I can pull up email saved months or even years ago, regardless of the server that originally held the message, and it’s important to me to be able to do so whenever the need strikes.
With “GMail”:http://www.gmail.com/ you don’t have a choice on how you can archive your email locally. You can’t. I learned in my little downtime just how dangerous that could be if you use GMail as your main mail account. Google isn’t falling off the face of the earth anytime soon, but you have to trust that your data is going to be there and there’s no easy way to take matters into your own hands. There’s a thread on a GMail-related discussion group about this very thing and I was surprised at the fact that no one seems to care about whether or not they can get to their saved email should Google have downtime. They believe that Google and GMail will always be there. There are people who are using GMail for everything, and I can’t fathom this thinking at all. Yes, you get what you pay for but there will come a time when Google won’t be able to say “sorry, not our problem…it’s a limited beta test after all.” Some have said that there are 3rd party utilities for backing up GMail and I should look at that. Curious, I did some Googling (pardon the irony) and I can’t find anything that takes GMail email and saves it to a folder on a local hard drive. But there are “many”:http://www.marklyon.org/gmail/gmailapps.htm “different”:http://ilia.ws/archives/15_Gmail_as_an_online_backup_system.html ways of getting your email and files *to* GMail. Nothing I saw that goes the other way. Talk about trust!
Google is a great brand. GMail has been generally reliable. But come on folks, nothing is 100%. Have control over your own destiny…and email/files you want to save.