Google Voice Now Supports Data Portability

One of the realities of using web apps is that you are storing some of your data on another company’s servers and that poses a risk of the company shutting down those apps or going out of business, preventing you from getting at your data. Consequently, it is a good idea to find out whether your favorite web apps provide a way to export your data so that you aren’t at risk of losing it. Google recently released Takeout, which is a data export app they are providing to enable users to download a local copy of their data, and today they announced that Takeout supports Google Voice.

Google Voice is a popular voice and text messaging app from Google. You can use it within Gmail to send and receive phone calls, use the Google Voice web app to send and receive text messages, listen to voice mail, and manage call routing, and use it with Android and iPhone smartphones. Google Voice is free to use and provides you a phone number that you can configure to ring on multiple phones.

Google Voice contains call logs, text messages, and voice mail, all of which might be lost if Google were to shut down the service. By using Takeout, you can have Google create a compressed “ZIP” file containing your information that you can download to your PC.

You access the app at www.google.com/takeout, and after you log in using your Gmail address and password, you will see a list of the different Google apps that Takeout currently supports. In addition to Google Voice, you can use Takeout to create exports of your contacts and Picasa web albums, in addition to your data in Google+.

You can elect to have Takeout create an archive of all your data in the apps it supports or select an individual app. When I selected Google Voice, Takeout created a ZIP file of all my data and then made it available to download. Call logs and text messages are stored in HTML files and voice mail are provided in MP3 files. You will also get a copy of your voice mail greetings, and if you use Google Voice for international phone calls, you will get a copy of your billing statements.

While I applaud Google for providing the ability to export data, one of the limitations of Takeout is that it requires one to remember to use the service to obtain their own backups. I would prefer that Google provided the ability to automatically create archives and download them to a PC, perhaps with a service similar to how Google Music automatically provides a way to download specified music files. Until Google provides such automation, users will have to remember to create archives of their data periodically, perhaps by creating a Calendar reminder, in order to be sure they have a current copy of their data.

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