How to Easily Backup Your Facebook Data

You've posted your life on Facebook. It's time to back that thing up.

Facebook Backup
Photo: Justin Lewis / Getty

Can you count the number of funny cat videos, Charlie Sheen-inspired Haiku poems, and LOLs you've posted or liked on Facebook over the years? I'm going to guess the answer is "no".

Where is all your Facebook stuff kept? You don't really know do you? It could be in some giant server farm on an island somewhere attached to the same computer that has been repeating a distress signal with the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 for the last 17 years.

The point is: if you don't have your Facebook data backed up, and your account is hacked, disabled, or deleted, then you could potentially lose a lot of stuff that is important to you (minus the Charlie Sheen-inspired Haiku poetry of course).

You may have some of it backed up, such as your pictures, but there is a lot of historical (and likely hysterical) posts that you may want to keep for posterity. It's also good to have a backup of your Facebook data for legal reasons, in case you are ever involved in a dispute where someone posted something defamatory on your wall and then deleted it. If you made a backup before they removed the post to cover their tracks, then they will only have the ability to delete what is on the live site, and not what you have backed up.

The wizards at Facebook have provided a way to archive all of the stuff that you, and in many cases, your friends, have ever posted to your Facebook.

According to Facebook, this content includes:

  • Your profile information
  • Wall posts and content that you and your friends have posted to your profile
  • Photos and videos that you have uploaded to your account
  • Your friend list
  • Notes you have created
  • Events to which you have RSVP’d
  • Your sent and received messages
  • Any comments that you and your friends have made on your Wall posts, photos, and other profile content

So How do You Backup All of Your Facebook Data?

Here is a quick and easy procedure to backup all the items mentioned above:

1. Login to your Facebook account (from your desktop computer)

2. Click the triangle-shaped drop-down menu located in the top-right corner of the blue bar on your Facebook page.

3. Click on "Settings".

4. From the "Settings" tab, Look for the line at the bottom of the page that says "Download a copy of your Facebook data Information" and click the link.

5. Click the "Start My Archive" button on the page that follows.

After you click "Start My Archive",you will receive a prompted for a password and you will then see a Facebook pop-up message stating that they are "gathering" all your information into a ZIP formatted file for you to download. The message says it may take awhile and that they will send you an e-mail when the file is ready to be downloaded.

The length of time it takes to build the archive file will depend on how much data (videos, pictures, etc) that you have posted to your account. For people who have been using Facebook for several years, this could take a few hours or more.

Mine took about 3 hours before it said it was ready for download. Make sure you have ample room on your computer's hard drive to store the data file that you are about to download.

Before you can download you Facebook data file, Facebook will force you to prove your identity through a couple of security measures such as inputting your password and having you identify some of your friends by their pictures. These security measures help to prevent hackers from obtaining the backup file which would basically provide them with a digital dossier of your Facebook life to take with them offline.

Add the Facebook backup process to your regular backup routine.

It's a good idea to backup your Facebook content every few weeks or months because you never know when the island that your Facebook data may be residing on might decide to implode or travel back in time to 1977. Good luck getting your funny cat videos back if that happens.

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