It’s your data. Keep it safe.

For many of us, our Google accounts are essentially our online identities. You’re probably pretty well entrenched after years of using Gmail, uploading photos to Picasa/Google Photos, and adding custom places to Maps. Now, imagine you lost access to all that data. Poof—gone! It would be a crisis, especially if you use an Android phone. You can at least prepare for the worst, though.

Google has various anti-fraud and abuse triggers in place, and several dozen users found out just how aggressive they can be a few days ago. After working with a New Hampshire-based company to resell some Pixel devices, these unlucky individuals found themselves locked out of their accounts. You see, Google doesn’t allow commercial reselling of the devices it sells, and the activity (sending thousands of phones to one address) looked like fraud. So, everyone involved lost their data.

Sometimes it isn’t even the user’s fault when Google’s anti-fraud triggers go off. Simply having your account hacked can be enough to get it banned, and there’s rarely anyone you can talk to to plead your innocence. The best thing you can do to guard against disaster is to back up your Google data. Here’s how you do it.

Select your services.

Head to the Google Takeout website and sign into your account. You will be asked which services you want to save, and you might as well choose all of them. Some services also have additional settings allowing you to exclude certain data. For example, Chrome lists bookmarks, history, extensions, and so on.

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You then get to choose how you want to the data archive made available. You can receive a download link via email or have it automatically added to Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. It can take hours or days for Google’s servers to assemble everything, and the download can easily be several gigabytes if you’re a long-time Google user.

Playing the waiting game.

Here’s the catch: Google Takeout only works as long as your Google account does. If you get locked out, it’s too late to back it up. Therefore, you need to make sure you download a fresh archive on occasion. So, add a recurring event to your calendar right now—do it at least every month or two. Save that archive on a local hard drive so even if the worst happens, you won’t lose all your data.