Preserving Google+ content

I recently got an email reminding me that my Google+ account will go away on April 2. My first reaction was a yawn. Google has made the service steadily less attractive over the years. I just checked my feed for the first time in months, and it consists entirely of posts by people I don’t follow, on topics I don’t care about. Posts from this blog and my writing blog get links automatically posted to Google+, but otherwise I haven’t posted in a long time.

One of my posts got two comments from people I know, so it’s not totally dead, but it’s close. Google made the service as unattractive as they could. Posts by strangers keep showing up. Comments appear and disappear as you’re trying to read them. But there was a time when Google+ was somewhat useful. You might have material there which you want to save. Fortunately, Google provides a way to do this.

The explanation is here. Click on the “Download your data” link. It shows you four “products” you can enable or disable: +1s on websites, circles, communities, and stream. It’s not clear what they mean. None of them sound like a list of the posts I created. I chose only the stream and clicked “Next.” That seems to have been the right move.

By default, the archive is zipped HTML. I left that option alone but reduced the maximum archive size from 2 gigabytes to 1. Certainly I hadn’t created a whole gigabyte of content there! I left the default of getting a download link by email. The alternatives are to add a file to Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box. Start 8:25

Then I let it start. The meter remained stuck at zero for a long time. The archive creation probably runs as a low-priority process, and a lot of people did get their notifications very recently. Eventually I wandered off. I got an email almost exactly two hours later telling me the archive was done and ready to download. The ZIP file was 4.5 megabytes in size.

The archive includes my posts as HTML files, as well as some images and one video. It reminded me that for a while I was very active on Google+, and some posts got a lot of comments from friends. The video (of my cat Mokka) is 3.2 megabytes by itself, yet it’s very jerky, as if the frame rate is somewhere down in the single digits. The original wasn’t like that. If you uploaded a lot of videos, your archive could be huge.

If you might have anything you cared about on Google+, it’s a straightforward process to get the archive. It’s better than realizing later on that you should have saved it.

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