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Your Guide to Trello Backup

Trello has become a mission control center for millions of products in every possible industry. After all, it’s so easy to plan projects and execute them with the help of Atlassian’s product. It’s also not hard at all to run a Trello backup process – manually or automatically.

This guide will explain different approaches and share plenty of tips for exporting Trello data to safe locations.

Trello backup – Why and How?

Trello is a very reliable platform, clocking in a ~99.95% uptime over the last three months (at writing). There’s little reason to expect this to change, but a good practice would suggest making regular backups anyway.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a major outage or a loss of data. It could be a human error that accidentally wipes out entire boards or alters numerous cards beyond repair. If that happens, you’ll want to have a fresh backup in place.

Exporting Trello data to a spreadsheet is also a valid use case. This way, you can track your KPIs, estimate workload, or have an accessible overview of what everyone’s working on right now.

There are two ways to backup Trello. You can do so with the default manual or external applications that allow for automated Trello backup. We’ll explore both approaches in the following chapters.

How to back up Trello manually?

Let’s look at two arguably most common things you may want to back up – an entire Trello board and a single Trello card.

Trello board backup

Trello has a native method for exporting boards and particular cards. To find it, enter the desired board and pull up the menu to the right. Here, select More and then Print and export

Printing a board isn’t of interest to us at this point but the other two options certainly are.

Export to JSON file is available for all Trello users. However, export to a more accessible CSV file is limited only to Trello’s Business Class users.

Although you can extract the needed information from a JSON file, they’re not very readable at first. Here’s a quick look at an example JSON file containing a backup of our Trello board:

Not very readable, huh? JSON files are more suitable for applications that can quickly parse them and display their contents in a much better form. 

Those of you capable of retrieving a CSV file will be in a much better position – CSVs can easily be imported into Excel, Google Sheets, and lots of other services.

Trello card backup

If you’re not interested in an entire board but would instead export just a card, you do it a bit differently. Open the card, click the Share button and then Export JSON. CSV export is not available for cards, unfortunately.

That’s just about everything on the manual Trello data backup. It can be pretty limiting if you’re on the free plan. But the main disadvantage of a manual mode is that, well, it’s manual. 

The thing about backups is that you want to do them regularly, ideally as often as daily. If you create a Trello backup only now and then, your data will inevitably be outdated. You could make it a habit to, for example, wrap up every week with a backup. But if Trello could automate this tedious process, we would say it’s worth at least exploring.

Automatic Trello backup

An alternative approach to backup Trello would be an external service capable of fetching backups automatically on a chosen schedule. There are quite a few scripts and services suitable for doing that to some extent. One of the simplest and, at the same time, complete solutions are Coupler.io.

With Coupler.io, you can import data from numerous services, such as Trello, Jira, Pipedrive, or Hubspot into a spreadsheet. Example destinations include Google Sheets, Excel, or BigQuery, and the data can refresh as often as quarter-hourly.

We’ll now show you how to backup Trello automatically using Coupler.io’s Trello to Google Sheets integration.

If you don’t have a Coupler.io account yet, create a free one right now. From the home screen, select Add new importer to get started.

Each importer has two sides – there’s a Source we fetch the data from and a Destination where the data arrives. For the Source, we certainly want to pick Trello.

Next, press the Connect button to grant Coupler.io access to your Trello account. The tool needs to fetch your cards, boards, and anything else you’ll want to import.

Grant the access via the popup that will appear next. 

Back on Coupler.io, you will now be able to fetch three types of entities:

  • Cards from a given board
  • Updates to a selected card
  • Items from a checklist on a chosen card

Each is a bit different so we’ll cover them separately.

How to back up a Trello board?

Continuing the example – if you wish to back up an entire board, pick Board cards as a Data entity

You’ll need to enter a Board URL in the next stage – a unique address of a board you wish to fetch. To get it, open the menu, click on More, and copy a link visible to the bottom of the list.

Now, jump into the Destination settings. Pick the desired application. We’ll go, for example, with Google Sheets, but the flow looks identical for each other option, so you can easily configure Trello to Excel export. 

Connect the desired destination and grant the needed permissions. Then, choose the file destination of the imported data. Here’s our example setup.

Finally, enable an automatic data refresh and set the schedule for the updates. For backup purposes, probably daily updates will be good enough but if you plan to work with the exported data daily, more frequent updates may make sense too.

Finally, press the Save and run button to launch the first import. Give it a few seconds and then check the results in your destination file.

Here’s an example import from one of our boards:

If there are more boards you wish to back up, have no fear – you won’t have to repeat the entire process. For each different board, copy the existing importer.

Then, swap only the Board URL and change the destination. You may also want to name the importer accordingly.

How to backup Trello cards?

When you create a backup for Trello, the app will fetch all cards present on it. If this is your goal, follow the previous chapter. For each card, you’ll get the basic details such as:

  • Its name
  • ID
  • Description
  • Status
  • Assignee
  • Position 
  • List it’s on
  • Position

If you need to dig deeper into what happens on your board, you may also be interested in pulling the updates to cards from a chosen period. If this is the case, create a new importer or edit an existing one: this time, select Cards updates as a Data entity.

While you’re at it, it may be worth specifying the Start date field. If you don’t, all the historical updates to cards for a chosen board will be pulled, which could quickly amount to thousands for old boards. 

More likely, you’re interested in just the recent updates. You could enter a specific date, but a more helpful thing would be a macro, indicating that, for example, Trello should pull only the changes made in the last seven days:

See our guide to supported macros for some more examples.

Adjust the destination if needed and run the importer. Here’s an example import:

How can I backup my Trello tasks?

Let’s suppose you’re only interested in cards assigned to yourself or any other person. This approach requires more tech-savviness but is still easy to set up, with no coding involved.

To fetch the cards a member is added to, we’ll use Coupler’s JSON to Google Sheets importer.

Go back to your Coupler.io dashboard, add a new importer, and choose JSON Client as a Source.

As a JSON URL, enter the following string:

https://api.trello.com/1/members/{member_id}/cards

How to find member_ID?

To complete the URL, we need to find a {member_id} of a user in question – it could be yourself or any other person present on your boards.

You won’t find this number in your profile. You’ll retrieve it by typing the following URL:

https://api.trello.com/1/members/{username}

Replace {username} with a user’s Trello username. For example, for a user nicknamed elon_musk, the URL would be 

https://api.trello.com/1/members/elon_musk

Type this URL into a browser. A JSON formatted text will load, from which you’ll need to copy the ID.

All in all, the JSON URL for our importer will be, for example:

https://api.trello.com/1/members/5ceca60500b9a77164778893/cards

Enter it in the JSON URL field in Coupler.io:

How to configure a URL query string?

As the final step, expand Advanced Settings. In the URL query string, you’ll want to enter now your API key and token in the following format:

key: {api_key}

token: {server_token}

To get the {api_key}, visit https://trello.com/app-key and copy it from the top of the page.

To get the {server_token}, click the Token link below and authorize the application. Then, copy your token.

Insert both values in your importer’s settings.

Proceed to the Destination settings and choose where the data should be imported to, same as we did in the earlier chapters. Create a schedule and run the importer, which will fetch all the cards for a given user.

Depending on how actively you use Trello, the importer may bring hundreds or even thousands of cards into your spreadsheet. It will fetch everything you’re set to work on, all things in progress, as well as all sorts of finished tasks you’ve long forgotten. It’s because you’re probably still assigned to them, and that’s all that matters to Trello API.

If you wish to filter out only some of the results – for example, only the cards from a specific board or only those on the “To Do” list – it’s simplest done directly in a spreadsheet. Let’s see an example.

Back up only “To Do” Trello cards

A sample backup of Trello cards of one of our users looks like this:

As we said earlier, we want to leave only items currently on our “To Do” list(s). Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward because Trello API won’t include a status of a card. It will, however, tell us precisely which board and which list a card is on.

It would be too simple if it just gave us names, right? 😉 Instead, we’re getting unique IDs of boards and lists, and we can set up a filter for either of them. We’ll want only to allow cards present on one of our “To Do” lists.

To find the idList value of a board, open any card present on this particular list. Then, add .json to its URL. 

For example, if the URL of this card is 

https://trello.com/c/GDCMCYFW/4-writing-a-json-to-gsheets-article

Change it to:

https://trello.com/c/GDCMCYFW/4-writing-a-json-to-gsheets-article.json

And press ENTER. Another JSON-like file will load. Find its idList field and copy the value. This is the ID of a ‘To Do” list on this board.

Finally, set up a filter that will allow only records bearing this particular ID. 

Note that each list on your Trello has a unique ID. For that reason, to fetch “To Do” items from multiple lists, you’ll need to look up the ID of each and update the filter criteria accordingly.

Important: In Google Sheets, make sure you use Filter views rather than a regular Filter. If you were to use a Filter, it would be wiped out the next time Coupler.io refreshes the data. Filter Views (Custom Views in Excel) will remain in use until you choose to remove them.

Backup Trello – further reading

There’s plenty more Trello data you can extract with Coupler.io. All our examples above featured Google Sheets as a destination, but it’s not the only place you can import the data. At the time of writing, our users can pull data from Trello and 15+ other sources into Excel and BigQuery, with more destinations coming up. Check out the Trello to BigQuery integration.  

Give Coupler.io a try and see how it works for you!

Many thanks for reading.

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