If my previous article about the reams of user information Google collects made you angrier than Donald Trump on a late-night Twitter spree, it might be time to download everything the company holds about you. Luckily, the process is straightforward, but keep in mind that the resulting file may be huge. Scratch that – it will be huge. Here’s how to download it.
First, sign into Google and head to the “Download your data” page, where you can pick and choose what you want to in the archive.You can leave things out by toggling the switches, but, if you want the whole kit and caboodle, scroll down and click Next.
Now it’s time to “customize your archive format”. We’d recommend downloading a ZIP, setting the maximum archive size to 4GB (other options include 1GB, 2GB, 10GB and, worryingly, 50GB) and having a download link sent to your email. You can also choose to add the archive to Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive. Note the warning in the screenshot above that you will only have a week to retrieve your archive. If you forget or accidentally delete the email, you’ll have to go through the process again.
Download data Google holds: your archive
Once you’ve finished pimping your download, it’s time to venture past the point of no return and press Create Archive. You will then be taken to a loading screen while the ZIP is prepared.This will take a long time (“hours or possibly days”, according to Google) so feel free to make yourself a cup of tea, help build a village or publish your first eBook while you wait. In fact, it takes so long that you might find yourself bequeathing the download link in your will.
Once the archive is finished, blow the dust off your laptop and check your Gmail for the download link. Again, bear in mind that the resulting file could be gargantuan if you didn’t set a limit (I’ve read tales of 150GB). You may need to clear some space on your PC by deleting apps and big files.
Once you’ve cleared enough space and downloaded the Zip file, you’ll be able to see everything Google has ever collected from you: all of the emails, photos, calendar appointments, locations, YouTube searches and so on ad infinitum. Enjoy!
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