Follow Google’s instructions to enable POP mail and then check out the step-by-step configuration settings for your desktop e-mail software. You’ll then have to actually use the desktop e-mail software to ensure everything’s getting synchronized. That, or leave the program open and running all day while you continue to use Gmail’s web interface.
Hard but Free, Windows Only
Fetchmail. Fetchmail is a program that you can automate to create nightly automated backups of your Gmail account. Once you get it set up it’s the most unobtrusive of all the methods described here, but it’ll take some expertise to get everything off the ground.
Lifehacker has a good how-to that outlines an ideal Fetchmail configuration. You’ll need to set up a Unix emulator on your PC or have a computer that runs Unix. If you have a computer that runs Unix, you’ve already yelled at me for calling this program “Windows Only” and you’ve probably been backing things up since the Nixon administration.
Easy and Free (but Cumbersome)
Auto-forwarding. Set up another free web-based e-mail account (Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc.) and configure Gmail to automatically forward copies of any messages sent to your Gmail account along to your other account.
Likewise, whenever you send an e-mail to someone, add your other e-mail address to the BCC field (BCC = blind carbon copy – so your recipient won’t see that you’ve added another e-mail address to your message) and all your outgoing messages will get duplicated to your backup account too.
And That’s That
It’s important to point out that Google does a whole lot of backing up on its own and has since started restoring the missing mail to its users. The process has taken a couple days already, though, so those that had gone to the trouble of backing up their e-mail messages in the first place didn’t have nearly as much to worry about.
More on TIME.com: