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How to Export and Review Data from Gmail and Google Chat

March 17, 2021  |  5 min read

Gmail ediscovery

This post is part of our “How to Export and Review” series. Don’t miss our overview on how to collect email data for discovery across a wide number of common platforms.

Some of the statistics surrounding Gmail are truly staggering.

According to techjury.net, Gmail owns 43% of the email service market share, including 53% of the US market. That amounts to 1.8 billion users.

When it comes to the business sector, Google is even more dominant. Statista reports that their Google Workspace platform (formerly G Suite) accounts for more than 59% of the office suite market share, with its main competitor Office 365 servicing most of the remaining businesses.

Like most other Electronically Stored Information (ESI), your company’s Gmail and Google Chat messages may be discoverable during litigation. That means you may have an obligation to collect and transfer this data to a requesting party -- and you could face court sanctions if the process goes wrong.

Here’s how to export and review your Gmail and Google Chat data.


Exporting data from your Google account using Google Takeout.


Fortunately, Google foresaw the need for exporting your data a long time ago, and created a convenient function called Google Takeout.

While this function allows you to download data on pretty much everything (right down to comments you’ve made on YouTube videos), we’ll focus on Gmail and Google Chat data for the purposes of this post.

If you’re reading this post more than a year after it was published, please check official documentation for possible process updates.

1. Log into your account, then go to takeout.google.com.

2. The tool’s default setting is to export every piece of data associated with your Google account. You can pick and choose what data you want to export by unchecking as many of those boxes as you like. For the purposes of this post, you’ll want to uncheck all boxes except “Mail” and “Hangouts”. Then click the Next Step button.

3. On the new screen, click the dropdown arrow to choose your delivery method. The most convenient will be the default Send download link via email.

4. You’ll be prompted to select the frequency with which you want to download. Unless you want to create a new record on a consistent basis, make sure Export once is selected.

5. Pick between .zip and .tgz file types for your export, choose the export size (2 GB is the default), and hit the Create export button.

6. You’ll receive an email letting you know that your request to archive your Google data has been processed. The export process can take hours or days, depending on the amount of data. When it’s complete, you’ll receive an email with a link to download your data.


Exporting data using Google Vault


If you’re using Google Workspace, you’ll be glad to learn that there’s a built-in tool that can help you export your data from virtual bins called “matters”, and, well... they matter.

1. Sign into vault.google.com, select the Matters menu, then choose Create. If you can’t do this, you might not have the appropriate Vault privileges.

2. Enter a name for the matter, and enter a description, and click Create.

3. Search and retrieve any pertinent ESI to be added to the matter. Once you’ve got what you need, select the Workspace files and click Export data.

4. Select a location to export your data to. The export process may take up to 24 hours.

Notably, Logikcull’s Google Vault integration can help you extract files directly into an easily-searchable database, allowing you to skip the manual export process.


Exporting all data from your Google Workspace quickly.


Depending on the size and maturity of your business, you might be using Google Workspace as a business tool (rather than a collection of personal Gmail accounts). If that’s the case, you probably have the capability to export data on your employees’ accounts in addition to your own.

Of course, if you have Google Takeout turned on, you can ask employees to export the data on their own. But if you’d like to do it yourself, follow these instructions.

Note: you won’t be able to export data unless you’re a “super administrator” of your Google domain, have 2-step verification turned on, and have fewer than 1,000 users on your account. If you’re reading this post more than a year after it was published, please check official documentation for possible process updates.

1. From your Google Admin console, click Open at the top right, select the Tools menu, then click Data export.

2. Click Start export. This process could take anywhere from three to 14 days, but whenever it’s done you’ll receive an email prompting you to download your .zip file.

The merits of this process are obvious: it’s quick and simple. However, this export method doesn’t allow you to pick and choose specific data to export, so it’s essentially the digital equivalent of being forced to buy every grocery item in a store when you only needed tonight’s dinner.

There’s a nifty little trick you can use to bypass this issue, though. Google allows you to set up Gmail with a third-party client. By using these instructions to set up Gmail through Microsoft Outlook, you can export your email data using Microsoft Outlook’s export tool.


Reviewing your Gmail and Google Chat data.


Reviewing your data can be as simple as unzipping the .zip file and reading the messages manually.

However, in some cases you might end up with an unfathomable amount of messages that would require ten lifetimes to sift through on your own. That’s where eDiscovery software tools like Logikcull come into play.

Logikcull provides you with a powerful solution to sift through a sea of data quickly and accurately. And as I mentioned above, it even has a Google Vault integration that allows you to export your Gmail and Google Chat data directly into the Logikcull platform, saving you a step in the process.

Sign up for a free trial today if you want to see it in action for yourself.