How to Back Up Your Facebook Data

Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you’ve shared a lot of photos and information about your life on Facebook over the years, it’s a good idea to download a backup copy of all your Facebook data. 

That way, you’ll have your own offline copy of all your photos in one single folder, which you can easily store on a CD, DVD or any computer.  So if Facebook every crashes and burns, all your selfies and other personal photos won’t go down with it.

The social network has adopted a lot of different ways to see and store your account data in the past, but it recently simplified the process with a “start my archive” link.

Where to Find the Facebook Backup Link

The personal archive option is accessible in several different places. The easiest to find is in the general settings area.

So sign into your Facebook account on a computer – either a laptop or desktop, but not your cell phone.  Look for the tiny down arrow in the upper right corner of any page, and click "SETTINGS" near the bottom. That will take you to the "general settings" page. At the bottom of the page you'll see a link that says "Download a copy of your Facebook data"

Click that and it shows you another page that says, "Download your information, Get a copy of what you've shared on Facebook."    Click the green "start my archive" button to download your Facebook data. 

 It will then show you a popup box asking you to confirm you want to create an archive, so you have to click another "start my archive" button, this one blue.

  Next, Facebook will ask you to verify your identity again before letting you download the file it creates.

At this point, Facebook will start preparing your personal archive as a download file. It should show you a message telling you it will send you an email when the download file is ready

Follow the Email Link

Within a few minutes, you'll get an email with a link to download the file.

The link will take you back to Facebook, where you will be asked one more time to reenter your Facebook. Once you do, it will offer you the opportunity to save the file as a zipped (compressed) file on your computer. Just point to the folder you want to store it in, and Facebook will drop a file on your drive.

Open the folder and you'll see one file named "index." Double click on the "index" file, which is a basic HTML webpage that links to all the other files you downloaded.

You can find your photos in a folder called photos. Each album has its own folder. You’ll see the photos files are fairly small, that’s because Facebook compresses the photos you upload, so the quality isn’t as good as when you uploaded them. They’re optimized for display on computer screens, not really printing, but may be glad to have them in any size one day.

What Kind of Stuff Can You Download?

 At a minimum, the download file should include all the posts, photos and videos you shared on the network, plus your messages and chats with other users, and your personal profile information in the "About" area of you profile page. It also includes a list of your friends, any pending friend requests, all the groups you belong to and pages you have "liked."

 It also includes a ton of other stuff, like your list of followers if you allow people to follow you; and a list of the ads you clicked on. (Read more in the Facebook help file.)

Other Backup Options

Facebook's backup option creates an archive that's pretty easy to browse. But there are other options, too, including apps that will back up your personal data from various social networks, not just Facebook. These include:

1. SocialSafeSocialSafe is a desktop software program that you can use to grab your data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social networks.

It's a free app that allows you to back up your personal information from up to four networks for free. If you buy the premium version for a modest fee, you can save more networks.

2. Backupify: If you manage a business and want to maintain a running backup of all your business social media efforts, then it's worth the investment to use a premium backup service. One to consider is the social media backup offering from Backupify. It's not cheap--the service starts at $99 a month, but businesses have a greater need to keep records than ordinary individuals do. And this one will automate the process.

3. Frostbox -- A cheaper option than Backupify is Frostbox, an online backup service that will automate the archiving of your social media  files. Its pricing starts at $6.99 per month.

Want a Twitter Back Up?

Twitter also makes it easy to save a copy of your tweets. Learn how to save all your tweets.