When Google announced that you can download an archive of all your search data, the pervading attitude was “cool, finally!” What you may not know is, you can already download other valuable data with a little-known service called Google Takeout.
Google has been gradually adding products to Takeout, so now you can download your +1s, calendars, contacts, Hangouts, mail, and much more. It even lets you download your Blogger blogs, since that is a Google product as well.
What this means then is that you can obtain regular archives of all your Google data, which you can then keep and store for posterity, or export to another service.
Getting to Know Google Takeout
To download your Google data, your first need to access your account settings. Click your user profile button in the top-right corner of your Google account and click “Account.”
You can also get there by browsing to myaccount.google.com.
On your “Account settings” page, you will need to scroll all the way down to “Account tools” and then click on “Download data.”
One of the first things you want to notice, is the “Select none/all” button. When you click “Select none” everything will be deselected, meaning if you only want to download specific Google products, you can go through and select each one.
This then lets you create custom archives, or only download one particular item (such as the aforementioned Blogger data).
Notice also, that some products have further options under their “Details.”
Again, let’s take Blogger as an example, say you have several different blogs you write, but you only want to archive one of them. You just click on the item and it will expand to show you more options.
We have the option then to “Select [specific] blogs” or “Include all blogs”, and are told that Blogger data is exported in Atom XML format.
That’s another important thing to keep in mind. The format your archives come in will vary. Some might be in HTML, others XML, while still others might come in JSON (which we covered very briefly in our Google Search archive article).
If it’s not immediately apparent what format a particular Google product is exported to, click on it and it should tell you.
In any event, once you have selected or deselected all your products, it is time to move on to the next step. Click “Next” at the bottom of the page to continue.
Creating and Downloading Your Archive
The proceeding page will tell you how many product you’ve selected, and then let you customize your download format.
If you want to archive everything in ZIP, then you should have no problems opening it on any computer system, however if your archives are larger than 2GB, it will be split among multiple files.
On the other hand, TGZ and TBZ archives are lesser known formats and may require additional software to open. They can however, handle archives larger than 2GB.
Don’t forget to also decide whether you want to receive your archive by emailed link, or to have it added to your Google Drive. Once you’ve made your choices, click “Create archive” and it will be assembled just for you.
When your archive is ready, you will receive an email notifying you.
If you go the Google Drive route, you can open the “Takeout” folder and find your new archive there.
Note, no matter the delivery method, you will still need to download your archive and open it on your computer to properly view and work with its contents.
If you open the “index.html” file, it will show you when the archive was completed, how many products it comprises, and how much space it occupies.
If you click on any of the product icons, it will show you what each one contains, which is useful for quick looks rather than hunting through each archive’s folders.
Remember, you can always make individual archives, such as if you want to only back up your Google Photos, or you can select the products that only apply to you. For example, we might only be interested in mail, photos, contacts, and a few other products, but nothing like the Google Code Project or Google+ items. In the end, the choices are entirely up to you.
We’d like to hear from you now. Do you or have you used Takeout? Is there a comment or suggestion you would like to add? Please leave your feedback in our discussion forum.