GMail: how much should you trust?

Maybe I was lucky that GMail “fell down and went boom”: 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”: 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”: “different”: 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.


  1. Eric says:

    This is one reason why I wanted to get my own server, and why I did that as soon as I found a financially feasible way to do so. I’m not inclined to trust any random company with my data. Now that I have my own colocated server with IMAP, my email is both stored on the server and backed up on any system on which I’ve run Mail and told it to keep a local backup.

    That’s obviously not a solution that everyone can use, but it certainly works well.

  2. shari says:

    actually, that’s the very reason I use gmail, since likely that my pc would crash and I lost everything (happened before loads of times) for a thousand times before google servers fall off the face of the earth, or crash, for that matter, I dont trust myself to save my important email more than I trust gmail, if anything happens, at least I can blame gmail and not myself. hope that help you fathom just why someone uses gmail for everything.

  3. Pete says:

    Gmail now has POP servers so you can download your mails as well as save them on teh gmail server – I redirect my yahoo forum emails to gmail so it can do its search thing for me.. It works well so far.. 🙂

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