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I wish to use a mail client to continuously backup my Gmail data. However, I want to prevent the client from making any changes to my Gmail.

When I tried to access Gmail using Thunderbird/IMAP, in the OAuth2 login screen, I was warned that Thunderbird can change my emails and delete stuff. There was no option to edit those permissions.

A while back when I used Windows 10, I tried its mail client to access Gmail and had the same problem.

EDIT : The backup must include Chats. Chats are not downloaded by POP clients. Also, it is desirable to also include drafts.

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Short answer

Instead of IMAP use POP.

Explanation

From the reference

You can read your Gmail messages from a client or device that supports POP, like Microsoft Outlook.

The above means that accessing the GMAIL email mailbox, as the same happens with most of the email services mailboxes, using POP doesn't change the messages in the email server. Bear in mind that there is a setting to turn on/off the deletion of downloaded messages.

References

Enable POP - Gmail Help

  • Thanks. There is one problem though. AFAIK, POP cannot be used to download sent messages. I want to download both sent and received messages. – Abhishek Anand Apr 3 '16 at 16:38
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    All messages that are in the Gmail mailbox can be downloaded using POP. See productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/gmail/NqHKwHGuXcw – Rubén Apr 3 '16 at 18:58
  • Indeed, my Thunderbird client downloaded all messages. Thanks. – Abhishek Anand Apr 4 '16 at 14:33
  • I should point out that Thunderbird has issues if the size of emails exceeds 4GB, which was true in my case. I switched to KMail, which did not suffer from this problem. – Abhishek Anand Apr 22 '16 at 2:49
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    Gmail use labels instead of folders. Chats, Draft Spam and Trash are system labels that could not have equivalents in POP. Consider to post a new question including what you learned about using POP and what you expect. It's worth to say that the chat archiving feature is changed when turning on Hangouts and the changes can't be reverted. – Rubén Apr 25 '16 at 18:23
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You can try Upsafe for this purpose. It does not make any changes to your Google account, it simply transfers the copies of your emails to another cloud. The app is cloud-based, so you can access your data from any device.

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