Chris Williams

How (and Why) to Backup Your Communications Logs

By: Chris Williams | January 9, 2019 | 
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backupYou’re looking for that conversation you had with a customer last month.

Alice, from the main office. She sent the project details in….yes, in an email.

Which you now can’t find. Of course.

We store our communications in many different places.

And nowadays, it isn’t just email anymore.

We leave snippets of conversation in phone messages, call logs, texts, and chat sessions—which we can lose, misplace, or delete.

So that leads to the question…..are you backing them all up?

Do a Backup; You Might Need it Later

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to refer to a chat log for information.

I need to call Bob about…wait, what did we discuss? We chatted about it last week, let me check the log…there it is!

If I didn’t have that chat log, I’d have to sit and think, trying to remember, until it came back to me.

Not only is this a time-waster, but there’s no guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for.

This scenario plays out for businesses all the time.

Tragically, most of the time they only call me AFTER they’ve lost a bunch of files due to failed backups.

Now they’re in a bad situation and have lost entire conversations with valuable information.

And not only is this bad in a logistical sense, but it reflects poorly on your brand.

Losing valuable customer information means you now have to ask them for copies which they may not have.

An incident like this can tarnish your brand something fierce. Customers may view you as lazy or disorganized.

And because you don’t want that, and a backup can prevent it, let’s make sure you keep good backups of all your communications.

The first step—find out where those logs are hiding!

Where Communications Logs are Stored

Our computers store logs of every communication type you use on them. And that does include your phone.

Where and how they store these logs varies on the type of communication and device.

Generally speaking, this is where you’ll find the logs:

  • Email: Outlook/Gmail/Mail App. And if you use Skype for Business, it stores conversation logs in Outlook, too.
  • Cloud-based chat programs like Slack: In databases, assigned to your account.
  • Chatbot logs on websites: Available through the chatbot service, or your website’s database.
  • Phone messages or call logs: On the device and synced to provider servers.

How to Backup Emails

Let’s start with the easiest backup–email.

You save your email within your email client, right? Usually within folders?

So all you need to do is make sure your company’s backups include all email.

(Hopefully, your company does keep regular backups of everyone’s computers. If not, stop reading this and go pester the IT department right now!)

How to Backup Chat Logs

Since many of us use chat platforms like Slack, much of our internal and even customer-facing communications take place there.

That’s a lot of information floating around on a cloud server. But, it’s typically safe there; the platform will have its own backups in place.

Still, getting to the backups becomes much easier if you have a local copy.

Fortunately, most chat platforms have an “Export” function. This allows you to export log files of your conversations.

Here’s how to do it on Slack: Export Your Workspace Data – Slack Help

(NOTE: If you want copies of private messages, you’ll need to use the Corporate Export tool. The tool is available only to workspace owners on the Plus Plan.)

Once you have the exported files, store them in a location on your computer where your company backups will include them.

I’d suggest a simple “Backups” folder within your Documents folder.

How to Backup Chatbot Logs from a Live Chat

I love chatbots.

They’re a fulfillment of the old “website as 24-hour salesperson” idea.

But did you know that many chatbots store logs of their conversations?

And if you use a chatbot on your website, you need to keep a copy of those logs.

They contain conversations which are unavailable anywhere else.

You’ll find the logs in one of two places, depending on the chatbot:

  1. The chatbot service provider should have copies in your account. There should be a ‘Download Logs’ option within your account settings.
  2. If the chatbot runs on your website, its database should contain the logs. You may need to use an export tool to find them. Your website developer will know where these are and how to do this.

How to Backup Chat Apps and Messaging on Your Phone

I remember the days when we used our phones just for talking!

Well, those days are long gone.

Now we conduct plenty of business on our phones through calls, texts, and apps.

And this means your phone stores plenty of data, including your conversations.

  • iOS: Use iCloud, plus a desktop computer, to save messages and call records. The iCloud sync function will store copies of your calls and messages. Download the Windows iCloud app to sync those files onto your Windows PC. (If you’re on a Mac, you already have a local copy.) Your main backup routine then includes the files in its own backups.
  • Android: Some Android phones can backup text messages to Google Drive. You can also sync Android phones to your PC, like an iPhone, taking advantage of its backup routine.

Emergency Backup: The External Hard Drive

Any time you save a communications log to your computer, you should save another copy to an external hard drive.

Designate the external  drive as your ’emergency backup’ for everything critical—company documents, email, your phone’s data…and of course, your communications logs.

But whatever you do, do not keep this external drive in the same bag as your computer!

Store it somewhere else, somewhere safe—in a locked desk drawer at the office, in a fire safe, etc. Only bring it out to do fresh backups.

And you should be doing these backups quarterly, at the very least.

By doing this, you’re building redundancy into your backup routine.  All those conversations you’ve had over time are now safely tucked away…just in case.

Keep Communications Logs Safe

If the worst happens and your computer or phone dies, you can breathe easy.

Retrieving your communications logs (along with your files) is only a matter of restoring your data from its backup. Or accessing the files on your external hard drive.

You may never need to do this.

And if you’re really lucky, you may be one of the 0.01 percent of people who will never experience a computer crash, dropped phone, or stolen laptop. If so, congratulations. Please tell us your secrets.

But for the rest of us, it’s always better to have the backups and not need them.

Rather than waking up one day to a dead device and forever-gone communications logs.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

About Chris Williams


Chris Williams is the machine behind many Silicon Valley businesses' marketing efforts. As Digital Marketing & Communications Manager for PlanetMagpie, he does everything from writing email newsletters to managing entire websites. A former life spent in IT support granted him a powerful communications skill: translating "tech-speak" into recognizable English language. He calls it "Translating Tech into Human."

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