As you may have heard by now, Google accidentally reset the data on about 150,000 Gmail accounts over the last weekend. That meant all messages, all contacts, gone.
One notable response came from Backupify, which is offering a free year of Backupify service for Gmail.
While I laud such services, being ever paranoid, I believe that one more cloud backup mechanism still puts one at a significant enough risk of losing one's data. And while the chances of 2 cloud services going down are really, really, really, really slim (someone should do the math =P), the chances of 2 cloud services going down while my Hard Drive crashes and my 2 backup drives burn in an unprecendented household inferno are even slimmer.
In other words, I'm talking about using one of those good-old offline mail clients.
This is important to note, since the trend is for people to migrate entirely to cloud email services like Yahoo! mail, Gmail, Hotmail, and the like.
Using Thunderbird, MS Outlook, or Apple Mail to sync up your online would have effectively cut your risk by a large factor, certainly large enough to have avoided this unfortunate incident with Gmail.
What's great is that your data is under your control, and migrating between clients seems to be easy enough:
Importing from Apple Mail
Note that I didn't mention exporting for Apple Mail. That's because I failed to find an official document detailing the process. You should find that info on the importing documentation of the mail client of interest. (eg: you want to import from Apple to Thunderbird, check out Thunderbird import docs)
Googling instructions for your mail client of choice should yield similarly useful results.
The point here is to have an offline backup, which can be stored on your local drive, as well as on any other media you so choose (external backup drive, shared network, etc). Better be safe than sorry.
Do Something About it
So the call to action is this: Send everyone you know the picture/PDF above, and remind them to make use of the more straightforward backup solutions for their mail - an offline email client.