How to save your Google+ account data

You don't have to lose your Google+ data. Just follow these simple steps.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Google abandoned Google+, its social network, late last year. Now, you have until April 2 before Google starts deleting your Google+ posts and communities. For most people, that's not a big deal, but for those of us who loved Google+, it's a sad time. But, at least you can can save some of your information before the clock strikes midnight.

What Google+ data will be deleted?

According to Google, it won't just be your posts and communities that will will vanish into the great bitbucket in the sky. Your Google+ photos and videos will also be deleted. If you've backed up your photos and videos to Google Photo, they'll be safe.

Google won't be deleting everything immediately. It will take a few months for Google to get around to deleting all the content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archives. Don't wait for it. The smart thing to do is to get your data out before it disappears. Here's how you do it.

(Image: ZDNet)

How to save your Google+ account data

Go to Google Takeout

First, head over to Google Takeout. This webpage shows all your Google products. I'll bet you didn't even know you used that many. I had well over 50 myself. From here, by default, you can create an archive of all your data. Since that's probably not what you want to do, hit Select None. Then, go down the list to Google+.

Decide which data you want to retain

You'll see there's not a single Google+ listing. Instead, there are five separate ones. You can ignore Google+ +1s on websites. That's just your +1 recommendations on other web sites. The ones you want are Google+ Circles (your contacts), Google+ Communities (your community data), Google+ Stream (your posts), and Profile (your profile data).

(Image: SJVN)

Pick a data format 

This data comes in multiple formats. At the top, you can get your Circle contact information in CSV, HTML. vCard, or JSON.

For Communities, you can get your data in HTML or JSON. In theory, you can get your data from all the communities you were active in or select data from specific communities. In practice, I found you can only download the data from all your communities.

With Google+ Stream, you can choose to get your data in HTML or JSON. Here, you really can pick which data you want to retain. You're given a choice of posts, activity log, metadata, and events. Of these, I think posts are likely to the ones you'll want to keep. Your Profile data is only available in JSON.

Choose a compressed format and archive file size

Once you've picked out what you want, go to the bottom of the page and click on the Next button. You'll now be presented with a choice in which compressed format you'll want to get your archives: zip or tgz. You can also choose the size of your archive files. This ranges from 1GB to 50GB. If you have even more data, you can get multiple archives.

Get your download link or add to cloud storage

Once that's done, you can get a download link by e-mail or have the archive be placed directly into your Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Box. Depending on how much data you have, this may take some time. Google warns it make take hours or even days to get your archive.

Is it worth it? 

It is for me. I spent many hours on Google+ talking with my readers and chatting with the movers and shakers of open-source software and Linux, including Linus Torvalds. It's well worth the effort.

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