Have you ever wondered how to, or even if you could, get your data out of Google’s services? Yes you can and here’s how. Though we won’t name names, there are a lot of other businesses out there where, once you put your data in (think about uploading a photo or chatting, for example), it remains forever with that business. Not the case with Google.

There’s an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products. They are quick to say that people usually don’t look to see if they can get their data out of a product until they decide that they want to leave. That makes us agree that we should all ask ourselves a few questions before starting to use a product that will store our data:

  • Can I get my data out in an open, interoperable, portable format?
  • How much is it going to cost to get my data out?
  • How much of my time is it going to take to get my data out?

Google.com/takeout is an online service run by Google engineers (the Data Liberation Front) where, once you put in your credentials, it’s easy to download a copy of, for example, all your Google Docs. It even converts them to the closest usable file formats (PDF, RTF, text, Word, HTML, etc.) and creates a single zip file with all of your files in it.

How long do you have to wait for Google Takeout to provide a copy of all of your data, you ask? The answer: minutes. Probably less time than you’d wait for the other kind of takeout from the restaurant down the street. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s free (or at least no more than you’re already paying, if you’re paying for Google Apps.)

At Agosto, one of the questions we are asked by our Google Apps prospects is, “what if in a year we don’t like Google Apps?” We advise that everyone, of course, should follow their licensing agreement. But, if they want out when the license period is over, Google cares enough to have created an entire program (Google Takeout) to help them get their data out, for good.

The Google Data Liberation Front believes that “you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product”, that it shouldn’t cost much and that it should be fast. We’re believers. You really can get your data out of Google’s services including Chat, Docs, Calendar, Voice – even YouTube videos. It’s also pretty darned easy to get your data in; that’s more our specialty here at Agosto. We can help you go Google quickly and easily and migrate data into Google Apps for your users.

Now that you know that you can get your data out if you need to with Google Takeout, once you try Google Apps we’re still pretty sure you’ll never actually want to.