Your stuff in the cloud could disappear at any time. Here is how to download a copy of your data from popular online services.
Do you use Gmail? WordPress.com? Fitbit? Facebook? How about Twitter? Your account could be shut down and you could lose all of your stuff there at any time.
This Dennis Cooper situation is a good reminder that you need to be prepared to lose anything and everything stored by online services at any time. Mr. Cooper’s art may not be my cup of tea, but I feel for him. Losing 14 years of work is devastating.
If you use free services, you have no reasonable expectation of guaranteed access to that service. Read the Terms of Service closely. Unless you are paying for them, the services don’t owe you a thing. The best approach to controlling your data is to back it up regularly.
Even if you do pay for the service (like Outlook 365 or Dropbox Pro) your safest option is to have a local backup of your data. Again, back it up regularly.
Below are links to export options for popular online services.
After you export this data, back it up. Leave a copy on your computer, then buy an external drive (affiliate link // non-affiliate link) and move a copy to it. I’m a big fan of the 3–2–1 backup strategy and this passes it. Three total copies of your data, two are saved locally (your computer and external drive), and one is in the cloud (on the service).
These services are in alphabetical order. If there is something I didn’t include that I should, leave a comment with a link and I’ll add it to the list! (Last updated July 19, 2016, with suggestions from James Walpole)
- Apple Mail
- Bitcoin Wallets — Common apps: Bitcoin Core, Blockchain.info, Copay, Electrum
- Facebook — Click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” at the bottom of the General Account settings page.
- Fitbit — Limited to a month at a time unless you pay them.
- Google Takeout (all Google services, including Gmail, Google Drive, Blogger, Google+, Calendar, Contacts, Hangouts, Wallet, Photos, etc)
- Outlook email, contacts, and calendars
- Slack (for a Team Admin only)
- Toggl — Make a detailed report and click Export to CSV. Can only export 1 year at a time.
- Tumblr — I haven’t found a great way to export Tumblr posts. They don’t seem to have an export tool. There are scripts on Github if you are a techy, otherwise I suggest using IFTTT to automatically copy new posts to Day One.
- Twitter — Export option is at the bottom of the Account screen once you log in
- WordPress.com (Here are instructions for WordPress.org self-hosted blogs)
- Yahoo (Various Yahoo services like Mail, Contacts, Watch lists, Calendars, etc)
I suggest you back up your online presence at least once a month. More often if it is business-critical like Slack, Trello, Toggl, Wunderlist, etc. Losing your work means losing money.
You can also do automated incremental backups of your social media accounts. I set up IFTTT recipes to automatically back up posts to my Day One journal and Google Drive. You can see the recipes I use here.
Back Up Your Devices
If you don’t do this already, take this as a reminder to back up your computers, phones, and tablets. I make full clones of my hardrives weekly and back up hourly changes with Backblaze (affiliate link // non-affiliate link).
If you don’t know how to back up your devices, here are instructions on wikiHow:
What did I miss?
I’m sure there are popular services I missed. If you leave a comment with a link to instructions or export tools for a popular service, I’ll add it to the list!