Get your Cloud Data down to your machine

Here are some ways to get your ‘cloud data’ backed up locally.

I know most people look to the ‘cloud’ for their secondary backups (if they even have a primary one) but few people ponder what will happen if their information is lost or compromised in the cloud or the terms of service of the provider that holds that information changes to your detriment.

I am going to provide some information on how to get your data out of your web email, Facebook and some other services.

One thing I see quite often is that people cannot access their online/web mail service at an important time to find information or they lose or have deleted the information they need and have no way of retrieving it.

So let’s start with web mail services. Today most people have very important information stored in their email; from plane reservations, business communications all the way to payment receipts. So in my opinion this is the first and most important place to start.

Get your mail downloaded locally.
For GMail. [My personal favorite!]:
Before you do anything, you’ll need to enable POP3 and/or IMAP in Gmail, which will let you access your accounts on the desktop. To do this, head into Gmail’s Settings and go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. Scroll down to the IMAP section and enable IMAP. Then save your changes, and open up your desktop email client of choice to set it up using the following instructions.

I use Outlook 2007/2010.

If you don’t have Outlook you can also use Thunderbird (an open source application by the Mozilla folks)

There are also a number of other mail applications you can use to get your information – Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook Express, LiveMail etc..

I like using the POP3 connections over IMAP for most of my connections.
POP mail service has been available MANY times when IMAP has NOT – for my Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. If the ‘webmail’ is not available online because of a service interruption then IMAP will most certainly too. This is not usually the case with POP. HOWEVER there is a big caveat with POP – you must make sure in the advanced settings or your mail client that you choose "to leave a copy of the message on the server"!!

But IMAP does have its advantages too.
So pick what will provide you with the most features you feel you will need – I suspect that would be IMAP probably be best for most people.

To set up POP with Gmail look here,  and find your client and follow the steps.
For IMAP go here.  and find your client or device on the list and follow the instructions.

If you’d like to read further about the differences between IMAP and POP you can read this here.

For Yahoo mail it is a little harder if you live in the U.S..
Yahoo wants you upgrade to a "Mail Plus" paid account to get POP and IMAP access directly. But you don’t have to! The best option is to use an application called YPOPs. I’ve used it in the past to get my Yahoo mail connected to Thunderbird and Outlook with out any issues.

If you have Window Live Mail or Apple Mail the client itself downloads your Hotmail/.Live or MacMail/MobileMe data to your machine by default. BUT remember this is an IMAP connection so if you delete something from you Live Mail client on the desktop it will be deleted on the server!

One important thin that may people miss is to get their CONTACT data out/backed-up from their mail clients. Something I also feel is very important.
For virtually all web mail clients that is as simple as going to the ‘Contact’ section and finding and choosing the ‘Export’ option. Those can then be exported into a format that virtually any Email client can import.
That should get you going with your mail.

Now to Picasa.
Simplest way is to install the latest version Mac or PC and then simply go up to the menu and use File ==> Import from Picasa Web Albums ==> Select All.
And Flickr
You can use Flickr’s Flash based web app here  just click on the ‘start now’ and follow the instructions.
Or you can use the open source application Downloadr . Downloadr is a photo downloader for Microsoft Windows. It provides a simple interface to download large sized images from Flickr to your computer.

Now to Facebook.
If you have Yahoo you can easily download/copy all of your contact out. You can follow this tutorial here.  One tip is that I would suggest setting up a ‘temporary’ Yahoo alias with NO contacts in it so that you do not end up with duplicates or mismatched merges. Then export those and import them into any application you choose.

Also Facebook now allows you to actually export YOUR data to a file! Following this VERY well written walk-through right here. I’ve done it and it works great! You may have to wait a while before you receive your ‘confirmation email’ and link but you will be able to get your stuff.

Finally there is an open source application Called MyCube Vault. MyCube Vault Backs Up Your Facebook and Google Data Regularly
Once installed, the app requires you to authorize it to each of the services you want to back up. From there you can tell the service where to store your backups and how often to save your data. If you’re concerned about downtime or just wary of keeping your data in the cloud, it’s worth a look.

I checked it out and it works well.
Windows version here

Mac version here

Well that is a long winded post and I hope some people will put it to use. Like backing up your local data don’t be the person who loses precious information because you were too lazy or couldn’t be bothered to learn something new.

Peace.

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