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Exporting Your Data from Google

Data is becoming increasing centralized, generally being absorbed by ecosystems surrounding cell phones. If you switch from one to the other, you have to be able to move it with you. If your account gets banned, it's all lost. You can (and really should) be backing up your data on a regular basis. It doesn't matter where your data lives, you should always have a backup of it elsewhere in case the worst happens.

It's not obvious how to back up your date from Google, so here's how you go about it:

First, log into your Google account. If you don't see this page below when you log in, click the circle in the top right corner with your avatar, or first initial in a colored circle if you don't have an avatar. Then click the button marked "Manage your Google Account".

Google Account main screen. On the left is a sidebar with the options "Home", "Personal info", "Data & personalization", "Security", "People & sharing", "Payments & subscriptions", and "About". In the center is a big purple dot. Under it the text "Welcome," with the rest blacked out.

Next, click "Data and Personalization" on the left side bar and scroll down to "Download. delete. or make a plan for your data". Click on "Download your data".

Google Account main screen. On the left is a sidebar with the options "Home", "Personal info", "Data & personalization", "Security", "People & sharing", "Payments & subscriptions", and "About". "Data & personalization" is highlighted. In the middle is a box titled "Download, delete, or make a plan for your data". The top option within the box, "Download your data" has a red circle around it.

There will be three steps that appear on the next page. Make sure every check box in step 1 is selected. Step 2 has some options that you can pick from:

  1. Delivery method: You can either have a link emailed to you or have the data migrated to (Google) Drive, (Microsoft) OneDrive, Dropbox, or Box. I HIGHLY recommend not selecting "Drive" because why would you back up your Google data to Google Drive?! If you intend on importing it to someplace that is not one of the above options, then pick "Send download link via email".
  2. Frequency: You can either export once or every two months for a year. If you intend to remain with Google, "Export every 2 months for a year" may be a good option, otherwise select "Export once".
  3. File type: If you are on Windows, select ".zip" because Windows handles that natively. If you are on Mac or Linux, either should work.
  4. File size: This shouldn't matter unless you're on a slow connection, have to migrate this to another computer via DVD, or are on an extremely old computer. If you intend to download this onto a computer still running Windows 98 or ME, select 1GB or 2GB because FAT32 will not handle files 4GB or larger. If you're on Linux with an FAT16 or FAT32 filesystem, the same applies to you. Otherwise pick whatever size most appeals to you and your internet connection.

A box with the title "{2} Choose file type, frequency, & destination". Inside it is text and options. The visible dropdown option for "Delivery method" is "Send download link via email". The visible options for "Frequency" are "Export once" which is selected and "Export every 2 months for 1 year" which is not selected. The visible dropdown options for "File type & size" are ".zip" and "2 GB". At the bottom is a blue button "Create export"

Finally click "Create export". The "Export progress" box will appear. The text at the bottom will vary depending on which delivery method you chose above. If you don't have much data, hours or days will probably be minutes. If you picked other than "Send download link via email", the data will get sent directly to that other cloud platform and you can quit reading right now.

A box with the title "Export progress". Inside it is text "Google is creating a copy of files from 43 products" and "This process can take a long time (possibly hours or days) to complete. You'll receive an email when your export is done." Two white buttons are below it next to each other, "Cancel export" and "Create another export")

Otherwise, wait for an email to arrive from Google Takeout stating that the process is complete to continue. It'll look like this:

A white box with text inside. "Your account, your data." Below is more text. "We've finished creating a copy of the Google data you requested on June 5, 2021. You can download your files until June 12, 2021." "Your download will contain data from 43 products." Below that are two buttons stacked on top of each other: a white one labelled "Manage exports" and a blue one below it labelled "Download your files"

Click "Download Files" and you'll have to re-enter your password before being presented with a page that looks like this:

More text. "Manage your exports". A horizontal line, then more text. "Before you copy your data to another service, check that company's data export policies. Make sure you can tkae your important stuff, like your photos or contacts, with you if you ever leave that service." "Avoid downloading your exports onto public computers or saving them where others can see them." "Visit your Google Account to explore other ways to manage your data, including deleting your Account." Below that is a table with the header row "Export", "Created on", "Available until", and "Details". The row below it "43 products 5.6MB", "June 5, 2021", "June 12, 2021", and a white button labelled "Download". Below the table is a blue button labelled "Download".

Click "Download" and your data will begin downloading to you. It may shock you the amount of data retained by Google that you never considered before, but now you'll get a good look at it. You can even use it to migrate elsewhere if you like.

Day 14 of #100DaysToOffload


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