While it is usually easy to get data into the cloud, for instance by simply using services such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, it is often difficult to download the data again.
Google allows users to use Google Takeout to download some of that data again to a local computer system. It needs to be noted that this does not include data from all Google services and that data that is not generated by the user but by Google and its services is not included as well.
It is however possible to download important data, for instance Gmail mails, data from Calendar or Contacts, all files from Google Drive or all uploaded videos from YouTube.
Google has changed the layout and design of its data tools website recently to improve the usability of the process.
When you open the website now, a list of available data sources are displayed. All services are listed with the product name and some on top of that with a description.
A switch at the rightmost location of a row is used to determine whether the data will be included in the export or not. Depending on which Google services you use, more or less products may be listed here.
A total of 20 products were listed when I accessed the page with my main Google account. Note that you can click on any product listed on this page to display customization options. If you select Drive for example, you can select to export only select files and folders, and define the file formats that you want the exported data to be made available in.
A click on next displays download options. Here you can select the desired file type format and delivery method. The default file type is zip but you can change it to tgz or tbz instead if you prefer those formats. Note that the data is split automatically in chunks of 2 Gigabyte files if you use zip.
Download links are sent to you via email by default, but you can change that so that downloads are automatically saved to Google Drive instead. You will receive an email as well but only with a link to the location. It goes without saying that the archive space counts against the storage quota of Google Drive.
Once you have made that selection you are informed that the archive creation may take hours or even days to complete if mail archives are included.
So what are the core difference to the old Google Takeout? If you have used the old interface you may remember that Google displayed size information for each data source. This is not the case anymore which means that you don’t know in advance if the data archive will have a size of a couple of Megabytes, Gigabytes, or even more than that.
So, is it better or worse? The lack of size information or at least estimates can be quite problematic, especially if Google has accumulated lots of data over the years.