Export your Google Docs data

One of my favorite personal blog posts is about not trapping users’ data. In late 2006, Eric Schmidt declared “We would never trap user data.” Many of the major Google properties (search, Gmail, Calendar) make it trivial to export or download your data.

In the past, Google Docs would let you export a single doc at a time, but Google Operating System runs down exactly how to batch export your Google Docs. For each type of document (text document, presentation, spreadsheet, etc.) you can choose what file format to get.

I had about 81 personal docs (~13MB) and it only took about a minute to bundle the files up into a .zip file that my browser automatically downloaded. If you have a ton of files, you can choose to get an email when the .zip file is ready.

I really like this feature. By making it easy to leave Google, I think people are actually less likely to leave Google. Or as Jason Calacanis noted lots of people are happy just to get a backup.

By the way, read more about how Google lets you export your data at http://www.dataliberation.org/ if you’re interested.

31 Responses to Export your Google Docs data (Leave a comment)

  1. does it work with media files as well?

  2. Yeah its good news, even I have found Gdoc backup software from google code to back up google docs data, but this sound more easy.

  3. zoransa

    The only thing that scares us all there were incidents when people could not login because their account was suspended… Was that Danny Salivan or David Nayor once or some other famous SEO/blogger who di**ed you publicly because he could not reach anybody to clear situation out and finally he posted on the blog… but not all of us have famous blogs that even google insiders read.

    I am very concerned about it because I use my google mail for everything… it is like leaving somebody without own SSN.

  4. don’t forget the new users, I would never start using an online software without this kind of export feature.

  5. Igor

    Not work with files whose names are not in English. Archive is created, but the files do not extract from it. Names are corrupted.

  6. This is such good news, I was looking for a way to do this a few weeks ago and gave up. I have loads of data in spreadsheets and really want to keep a backup on my pc. I use Google docs to help manage my business more and more, so that I can collaborate with others, agree on priorities and share work logs etc. But if it went down one day…. disaster!

  7. Thanks for the Post Matt. I have started using this feature and exporting a doc or excel sheet to PDF is my preferred choice.

    I got a question about Google Calender, How come Exporting feature is not available for Google Calender? Or Is there?
    I would like to Export the monthly or selected Calender views into Excel or PDF format? Right now I can only export them in ICS format, complete Calender. Is there a way to share a month or with out sharing the complete Calender?
    Wouldn’t it be convenient for others who doesn’t use a Calender App, can just view them as a PDF?
    Appreciate your response.

    Thank you.

  8. Just curious: do you guys have an internal “Google Document Converter”?

  9. My wild guess is they use to convert Google Documents :)

  10. Google Docs have been a favorite part of business even when dealing with clients. Gmail makes it so easy to download things. Good work!

  11. Jared K

    Sorry, but how can you tout Google’s commitment to data liberation given stories like this? http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/10/26/orkut-slows-hemorraging-to-facebook-by-making-friend-export-tool-nearly-useless/

    And when Orkut export “Bug” happened a few weeks ago, you were the first Googler to comment on TechCrunch that it was merely a legitimate bug.

    It looks more like Google is only committed to data liberation when they have nothing to lose from it, which is hardly a commitment at all.

  12. Agreed, well played Google. I also love that gmail allows pop3 access and d/l of emails for example and it was a big factor in choosing that as my email solution. I’m still not a big user of online docs but it’s true that learning about a feature like this makes me more likely to want to use google docs.

  13. Yes I did use this utility and it has helped me in organizing my emails. My Gmail account has once again become quite lightweight.

  14. Very helpful post for us lower level computer guys.
    Until this post I did not know it was even possible to do.

    Thanks again!

  15. Love the Data Liberation Front idea.

  16. Jared,

    Orkut continues to undermine Google’s Data Liberation Front, whose singular goal is to “make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products”.

    Means Orkut has a vested interest in undermining Google. Don’t believe everything you read online. If in doubt, *experience* the perceived problem 1st hand and decide for yourself.

  17. This is good news and makes it easier to keep backups.

  18. I love using your free apps and now this is another reason to use them. I did not know this even existed.

    I travel out of the county a lot and google spreadsheets saves time by allowing me to access my documents instead of having everything reside on my home computer and having to email docs when I want to get copies when I am out of the country. In my travels, I have not seen many people, other than google enthusiasts, who even know that google spreadsheets exists. If you get the word out more, I guarantee you that people would make the switch.

  19. It is always a good idea to collect your data. You never know when that stuff may come in handy in the future. Having that archive can be critical when something may come up.

  20. This is a great feature and I have been waiting for this for a while. However, I am wondering whether the exported file format is compatible with Microsoft office software such as Words, Excel….Thanks

  21. cool, since we began to develop our new site on google app, we have been using google docs and email for months, there are many business files in our team’s google docs account. That’s a great feature, we dont need to worry about lost these files anymore!

  22. @jarred um you know that Big companies have internal polatics and even a company as small as Google will have divisions competeing against each other and not always working to the same agenda?

    Posibloy somthing Eric could look at now hes not atending so many external board meetings :-)

  23. Google Sites. What a truly great product! Problem is… no export feature :-(

    If you make your site public, then you can use wget, but if you want your site to be private (and hence behind the Google login forms) then using wget becomes very messy.

    It’d be great to have a native export feature to backup private Google Sites. It’s just too risky to use without.

  24. Data safety is always a concern, good thing that Google respect the privacy of its user. It lessen Google’s data center load at the same time.

  25. How do you do a mass migration? What if you switch from Google Apps to another cloud app or something on the premises? Do you have to ask 1000+ users to be responsible for their own migration or does the admin have to log on to 1000+ accounts?

  26. Great feature.

    My wife and I have been using Google Docs for awhile now. Makes it so much easier to pass files back and forth and KNOW that they will work across multiple computers.

  27. This is just what I have been looking for, didn’t even know this was possible. Its going to make it much easier to keep back ups now.

  28. Like Jason C, we are very happy with google docs but the new batch export will make exports WAY easier for us to backup our stuff. Nice improvement!

  29. I am a big fan of Google Docs. Recently I have been installed NoteMaster on my ipod touch and has sync with G docs, another good think about G docs this sync with mobile devices :)
    Thanks for the tip about exporting these docs!

  30. I found this very similar with that of Google Labs. I haven’t try using this application but I’m pretty much sure that it works the same way with the others.

  31. Hey Matt,
    Zip files are such a pain to open, organise, re-zip etc. I would love for it to be easier on the new Google OS and/or Google docs. Can’t a program do the annoying task and let me relax?
    Keep up the good work and smiles :)

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