How much of your life is recorded online? Spend a moment considering this and it’s likely to be a terrifying idea. You may not consider yourself the type of person to keep a journal, or even a blog, but over the years you have probably posted thousands of words on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Add to this the images you may have posted and this is data you may well want to record. Could you bear to lose all of this? We’ll show you how to backup all of this data so you can keep it for posterity.
The chances of Facebook, Twitter or Google losing all of your data are fairly slim, but by opting to download it you not only make all of your status updates, images and more available offline, you also make it far easier to work with and can make use of it in different ways.
There are slightly different methods and techniques used by each social network, but you can request and download all of your data free of charge. Here’s how to go about it.
Log into your Facebook account, click the gear icon to the upper right of the page and select Account Settings. Make sure that you are in the General section of the settings and click the ‘Download a copy of your Facebook data’ link to the right.
There are a couple of options available to you now – downloading a regular archive, or opting for the expanded one. The basic download, referred to by Facebook as Downloaded Info, includes details of your check-ins, chats, general account details, your photos and more.
There are also an ‘expanded archive’ option which includes far more detail including the apps you have installed, a list of people who have been unfriended, data that has been hidden from your newsfeed and details of IP addresses that have logged into your account. Full details of the differences between the two different archives can be found in Facebook’s help pages.
To download a copy of your basic Facebook archive, click the Start my Archive button followed by ‘Start my archive’. After clicking Confirm, you’ll have to sit back and wait while your data is collected together. You will then receive an email letting you know when the archive is ready for download.
If you’re more interested in obtaining the complete history of your account, you should instead click the ‘expanded archive’ link. Enter your password and click Continue. As with the regular archive, you then need to click ‘Start my archive’ followed by Confirm.
In either case you’ll receive an email containing your archive ready for browsing.
Downloading your Twitter archive is similarly simple. Log into your account, click the gear icon to the upper right of the page and then click Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the ‘Request your archive’ button in the ‘Your Twitter archive’ section.
As with Facebook, you’ll have to wait a little while for the archive to be prepared, so click the Close button and await the arrival of the confirmation email – in all likelihood this won’t take too long to arrive. Click the ‘Go now’ button in the email
Click the Download button to grab your tweets.zip archive, which you can then extract using your tool of choice. Twitter archives are provided in both HTML and CSV formats.
To download your Google+ data, log into your account, click your profile picture to the upper right of the page and then click Account. You have the choice of downloading all of your Google data – everything from Picasa albums to Google Voice data – in one fell swoop, or you can download different archives individually.
To keep things simple and download everything at once, click the ‘Download your data’ button. This will take you to Google Takeaway where you’ll need to enter your password again. You can go ahead and move to the ‘Choose services’ section to select individual services to download data from if you like, but otherwise just click Create Archive.
Freeing your photos from Instagram requires the use of a secondary website – it is not a service provided by Instagram. Instaport enables you to download your entire account as a zip file, and there are plans to also allow data to be transferred to Facebook or Flickr.
Visit the Instaport website and click ‘Sign in with Instagram’ before providing authorizing the connection to your account. Make sure that ‘Download .zip file’ is selected and click the Start Export button.
This time around you’ll have to keep checking back to the page to see when your archive is ready as no confirmation email is sent out. Just how long this will take depends on how many images you have uploaded.
If you want to get more specific about the images you want to download rather than just grabbing the whole lot, click the Advanced Options link to access additional settings such as images from a certain time frame.
Have you backed up your social media data, or is it all just pictures of cats and food?
Mark Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny and intriguing. Never afraid to get his hands dirty with some full-scale geekery, he’s always trying out the latest apps, hacks and tweaks. He can be found on Twitter.
- Published 03/12/13