This article is for Macintosh users only.
I must admit that I love Google's many FREE applications, and I use them a lot. I have more than 200,000 email messages stored in Gmail from the past five or six years. I use Gmail as a filing cabinet for email messages I have sent and received. If I need to find a message I received three years ago, I can find it within seconds with Gmail's SEARCH feature.
I also keep my schedule in Google Calendar, including everything from business trips to scheduled automobile service appointments to reminders to renew my driver's license. I also keep more than 2,000 telephone numbers and addresses in Google Contacts, and I back up all my critical files in Google's G-Drive. I love Google's security and reliability.
Reliability? Just how reliable is Google?
In fact, I have never had any information lost by Google; but, I know that nothing is perfect in this world. As reliable as Google has been for me, I have to believe the company will have a hardware failure or software failure or human error at some time in the future. Google has proven to be more reliable than my own computer; but, sooner or later, Google (and any other online service) will lose something. I am certain of that.
Every bit and byte of information that is important to me needs to have at least one backup copy someplace. Having two or three backup copies is even better. I could probably survive if Google suddenly lost my calendar (I already have a backup in my cell phone) or lost my contacts (again, I have a backup copy in my cell phone). However, I am especially worried about the 200,000+ email messages I have stored only in Gmail. Until recently, I didn't have a backup copy of those email messages. I was fully dependent on Google to keep them available. I don't like being dependent on someone else. I would like to keep a backup copy of each of those messages.
Luckily, CloudPull solved the problem for me. I now have a backup copy of all 200,000+ email messages on my computer's hard drive. Even better, I can import some or all of those messages into Apple Mail within seconds, should I need to.
CloudPull also can back up my data in other Google apps. It can back up files stored in Google Documents (now a part of G-Drive) and later export them to Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, as appropriate.
CloudPull also backs up Google Calendar and can import those appointments into iCal. It also backs up Google Contacts and can import those telephone numbers and addresses into the Macintosh Address Book.
CloudPull also can back up Google Reader and import it into either NetNewsWire or Safari. While I do use Google Reader, I don't bother to back it up as all data I store there is temporary. A total loss of all Google Reader information would be a minor inconvenience, in my case. Still, the capability is there, should I wish to enable it at any time. Others may use Google Reader in a different manner than I do and therefore might be more concerned about backups.
Likewise, I don't use CloudPull's capability to back up Google's entire G-Drive. In my case, I only use G-Drive to back up documents that are already stored on my computer's local hard drive. I don't see much need to back up copies that are backups. I already have the originals on my hard drive; the copies on G-Drive are simply copies of the originals. I doubt if I will ever simultaneously lose ALL my copies: the originals on my hard drive plus the copies in Google's G-Drive plus the backup copies in Time Machine plus the backup copies in my cloud-based backup service.
CloudPull backs up everything in my Google account or (optionally) backs up only those pieces that I select. By default, a new backup is made every hour (although that time is adjustable). When backups are made, the computer does not slow down appreciably. I don't even know that CloudPull is making a backup unless I happen to look at the icon on the screen that displays a moving arrow when backups are in progress. I often forget that CloudPull is running.
As happens with most online backup services, running CloudPull the first time can take many hours or even days, depending upon the amount of information to be transferred and the speed of the Internet connection. However, once the first (or "baseline") backup is completed, future backups usually require a minute or less. Since all the old files have already been backed up, only NEW FILES get backed up on the second and later backups. These are called "incremental backups" and typically require only a few seconds to complete. Of course, if you create a brand-new file that is several megabytes in size and you also have a slow Internet connection, an incremental backup might require two or three minutes to complete.
Restoring files is nearly as easy as backing them up. There are three different ways to restore files:
- You can browse current backups and backups from old snapshots.
- You can preview backed up items via Quick Look.
- You can restore items by dragging them to the Finder. You can restore one file at a time or entire folders or even groups of folders.
CloudPull also keeps point-in-time backup copies for 90 days. For example, if I accidentally delete or change a file, I can still retrieve that file as it existed at the time for up to 89 days. This feature is great when I accidentally change a file and don't realize the problem until later, perhaps only after it has been updated five or ten more times. At any time, I can go back and retrieve a previous version that is up to 89 days old.
In my case, everything on my local hard drive is also backed up to an external hard drive by Time Machine. In addition, most of my important files are also backed up to a popular cloud-based backup service. I use Amazon S3, but I could as easily use Mozy, Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan, or any other online backup service. I also keep many important files (but not everything) in Dropbox, and my notes are stored in Evernote, two services that store backup copies in the cloud.
In short, I believe my backup plan is comprehensive. I have at least four copies of every email message and every important file (one on my local hard drive, another on Google, another on a plug-in, one-terabyte external USB disk drive, and still one more in a cloud-based backup service). A few files are also backed up in Dropbox or Evernote, and I also keep a lot of my more important files on a flash drive that I carry in my pocket. With four to seven copies of every important file, I think I am well protected!
NOTE: Except for Time Machine, I don't back up every file on the computer. I don't need to make backups of the operating system or my favorite word processor or any other programs or system files. In case of a disaster, I can either restore those files from Time Machine or I can go to a computer store and purchase new copies. The only thing I need to worry about is my data files–those that cannot be purchased elsewhere. I want to back up every bit of information that I created or that I received from others.
If you own more than one Macintosh, such as a desktop computer at home, another desktop computer at the office, and a laptop computer, CloudPull can be configured to back up Google from all those computers at no extra charge. Even files created by a Windows computer and then stored on Google can be backed up by a Macintosh running CloudPull. CloudPull supports up to ten Google accounts. To put this in a practical context, if you keep separate accounts for your company, your clients and your personal life, you can legally back up all of them with one copy of CloudPull.
I would not use CloudPull on any Internet connection where I have to pay for the number of bytes transferred. For instance, backing up many gigabytes of data via a wireless 3G or 4G "air card" connection to a cell phone company or via a satellite connection could be expensive. However, data backups should be inexpensive on any Internet connection that includes unlimited data with the account. Most Internet connections include unlimited data, but there are a few exceptions, especially on 3G or 4G wireless connections or from cruise ships.
CloudPull is a very secure application, as is Google. CloudPull does not add any more security or remove any security from what Google already provides. All data stored by CloudPull is kept on your own computer's hard drive unless you specify to store it elsewhere. Security is always under your control.
CloudPull is expensive at $24.99 for unlimited use by a single user on up to ten computers. However, I consider this to be cheap for the peace of mind the program provides. Even if Google has problems in the future, I still have backup copies of every Gmail message, every Google Contact, every Google Calendar entry, and more, all stored on my local hard drive as well as in other places locally and in the cloud. I like that!
CloudPull can be downloaded in the Apple App Store. More information is available at http://www.goldenhillsoftware.com/.
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