How to download your Google+ data

Google+ — Google’s unsuccessful attempt at creating yet another
social network — is shutting down soon. Originally slated to be
shut down last August,
the service will now be disappearing in April
as a result,
according to Google, of two separate data leaks.

Google has admitted that the
network wasn’t a raving success
. However, there is still
evidence of a loyal user base, and many users are now
scrambling to figure out where to go next. A few Google+
communities have sprung up to address this issue, such as
Google+
Mass Migration
. (Its description reads: “You don’t have to
go home, but you can’t stay here.”)

Whether you’re a faithful user or you abandoned ship months (or
years) ago, you may still want to get a copy of your posts,
photos, comments, and other content before the site completely
disappears.

It’s not a difficult task. There are applications that were
built to make the process easier (such as the open-source app
Google+
Exporter
), and the official tool, Google Takeout, works fairly
well (although it can occasionally be glitchy). Here’s what to
do.

Make your choices

Once you’ve signed into your Google account, go to Takeout.
(This is where Google invites you to download all of your
data.)


List of Google services

The list of Google services
with data to download may be longer than you
expect.

The long list of Google services that have data you can
download might be a little overwhelming, but toggles to the
right of each service let you select which sections you want to
download. In fact, when you go to the page, they will all be
toggled on. Unless you want to download everything that you’ve
put into Google, your best strategy is to click on the button
that reads Select None, which will toggle them all off. You can
then toggle on just the ones you want to actually download.

As you toggle each service on, pay attention to the little
downward arrow that is to the left of some of the toggles.
Those arrows indicate that you can select in which format you
want your data to be downloaded. (It will vary depending on the
type of data.) Click on the arrow to see what your choices are.

What should you download?

There are several services that you want to select if you’re
interested in your Google+ data.

  • Google+ +1s on websites
    It’s only available in HTML.
  • Google+ Circles
    Your contacts. Choose between vCard, JSON, CSV, and HTML.
  • Google+ Communities
    You can download it in either JSON or HTML, or you can choose
    to download all of your communities or only selected ones.
  • Google+ Stream
    All of your Google+ posts. You can download the entire thing,
    or you can choose a specific type of data: ActivityLog,
    Collections, Events, Photos, or Posts. Available formats are
    JSON or HTML (except for the Photos, of course).
  • Profile
    It’s only available in JSON.

Google will also be
transitioning from Hangouts
in the near future, so as long
as you’re downloading, you may want to get the following info
as well:

  • Hangouts
    Your messages. It’s only available in JSON format.
  • Hangouts on Air
    If you’ve done any Hangouts Q&As, this is where they are.
    It’s only available in CSV format.

Once you’ve chosen the formatted files you want to download,
you still have some decisions to make. You can download your
files in either the zip or tgz compression format. You can also
choose the maximum size of your archival files. If the archive
turns out to be larger, the data will be split up into several
files (and no, you don’t get to decide which files are put into
which archive). The maximum for any archival file is 50GB, but
if you choose a size larger than 2GB, you’ll get a warning:
“Zip files larger than 2GB will be compressed in zip64. Older
operating systems may not be able to open this file format.
There are external applications that can be used to uncompress
zip64 files.”

Google download info
When you follow the link that
Google sends, it will lead you to a page where you can download
your data.

Finally, select where you want your data to go. You can
download the files to your computer — in which case, Google
will email you a link when the data is ready — or you can have
the info uploaded to one of several cloud storage services,
including Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box.

That’s it. Hit the “Create Archive” button at the bottom of the
page, and you’ll get a screen notification that your archive is
being prepared.

Trying it out

I chose to download the info to my computer. Once I hit the
button, it took about 10 minutes for the email to arrive
letting me know my archive was ready. (Admittedly, I wasn’t
that much of a Google+ contributor.) Unfortunately, there were
apparently errors in the Google+ Stream archive. I tried
downloading the stream again, and it worked. Then I tried again
with all of the services checked, and it all downloaded in two
separate zip files.

Where should you go instead?

If you’re still using Google+ and you’re looking for somewhere
else to go, especially if you’ve created a community of people
you want to keep in touch with, sites like PlexodusWiki
offer advice on how to do this and other social networks to
consider.

Meanwhile, the most important task on hand is to make sure that
all of your conversations, photos, and other data that are
currently sitting in your Google+ account are safe when the
service goes dark.

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