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Could you imagine what would happen if one day we woke up and Facebook was gone? What would happen to all your precious memories and photos? We live in a digital world and we are constantly sharing things. But as privacy concerns become more prevalent and novelty wears off, more people are backing off social media, including Facebook. But don’t forget to backup your digital life before you jump ship. Even if you don’t go cold turkey, the new year is a good reminder to clean up your “social media self” and archive a copy of your files.
Why Back Up Facebook and other Social Media Data?
A few months ago my Instagram account got “compromised” and I was devastated – like someone had taken my puppy away from me. Not only did I lose all the precious photos I took (with awesome filters of course) I lost all my followers and comments too. I also forgot everyone I was following. Not to mention my street cred as I was an early adopter on Instagram several years ago. The worst part? My user name is no longer available – indefinitely (gasp). Now slowly I am rebuilding my Instagram library and community. It’s tough but it got me to thinking, everything we do on social media we feel like it’s “safe” and there forever but it’s not. What if one day we wake up and Facebook is gone. Then are your 100+ photo albums gone too? (Yes, I had that many until scaling back to less than 50 recently). Or, what if privacy settings change suddenly and you feel you need to remove some more private information or photos from your profile (e.g. Facebook’s Graph Search may get your running!). Remember, these free social media services host all of your content so the courts are still fighting over who owns what content on these networks – you or Facebook. Perhaps, and hence why, you should backup your precious memories before it’s too late.
What can you backup?
At time of publish (January 2013), the following social media sites have safe, legitimate resources that allow you to back up your data:
*Require third-party sites or apps to allow you to back up.
We will do out best to revisit this article and update it as new social media or other online communities require backup resource information.
You’d be lying if you didn’t admit you’ve thought about quitting Facebook. There has been a recent decline in the number of Facebook users so before you quit, consider deactivating first. This will disable your profile and remove your name and picture from most things you’ve shared on Facebook without eliminating your profile all together (just in case you change your mind).
Some information may still be visible to others, such as your name in their friends list and messages you sent. This is a nice, temporary option in case you are considering throwing in the towel. Test it out and see if you can live without it. If you decide enough is enough, or just want to make sure you have a copy of your 100+ photo albums like I did, then downloading a copy of your data is as easy as a few clicks.
How to Backup Facebook & Deactivate Your Account
Simply go to your account settings by clicking on your name at the top right hand bar. Then, under the general settings, click on the blue link that says “download a copy of your Facebook data.”
Note: depending on how much content you have (and I have a lot) it could take several hours to complete. Facebook will also ask you to enter your password to verify for security reasons. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to sit there and wait on the page until it’s complete. Facebook will notify you via email (and Facebook notification) when the download is ready.
You will then click on the link from your email to get a zipped file of all your content. Keep in mind it includes photos or videos you’ve shared on Facebook, your wall posts, messages and chat conversations, your friends’ names and some of their email addresses. It does not include, your friends’ photos and status updates, other people’s personal info, or comments you’ve made on other people’s posts (understandably).
Using Google Takeout, you can download your Picasa Web albums and photos, your Google profile, Google Buzz and Google contacts along with your Google Plus stream. If you are already signed into Google, click on your name or email in the bar at the top right, then click on “account” and click “data liberation” on the left. You can then select either “Download your Data” to export all of your data or specify the content you wish to download. Note: since they take your personal information, they do a few extra steps to verity your password even though you are already signed in. (Thanks Google!)
If you have the latest version of iOS 6.0.1 on your iPhone, your Instagram photos are automatically saved to a separate photo album. Whew. However this requires you to back up your photos from your iPhone regularly (or sync with iCloud via photo stream). I do this option now however it takes up important space on your phone and/or Apple cloud account. While researching this topic of social media backup options, I discovered a few sites that will download your Instagram photos for you.
I tried out instaport.me which again is very easy to use. First, make sure you are logged into Instagram (or it will ask you to log in). Then simply authorize the App. Once connected to your account, you can download a zip folder of all your photos. Note: This will not save the captions.
Luckily, Linkedin allows you to export your precious contacts directly in their website. While you may or may not rely upon this list everyday, it is likely that in some way or another, someone in that list has assisted you in building your career or they will someday. This is virtual networking and can be a great tool when job searching.
Steps To Backup Your LinkedIn Data
First, login to Linkedin.com, then under “contacts” go to “connections.” From there, in the bottom right hand corner of your address book you will click a link to “Export connections.” It then gives you the option to export to different file types including Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Yahoo! Address Book, or Mac OS Address Book. Select your application and file type from the menu below, then click “Export.”
The first Pinterest backup option I found was Pin4ever. Your first backup is free and lasts one month. Backups lasting up to a year vary in cost from $0.99 to $19.99. I tried it and failed to get my pins backed up. Not only were there many steps in the process, it was downloading software to my computer which I didn’t feel safe about.
Then I discovered PinDown, available in the iTunes store for $0.99, and frankly it’s the best buck I’ve spent this year! After downloading the app on my iPhone, I simply logged in and immediately had access to download as many pictures at once from my boards. It also allows you to download other people’s pins from your feed. You can then save them to your iPhoto library or Dropbox. The best part is that each picture contains its original Pinterest.com URL in EXIF metadata so you can always go back to Pinterest.com and see the picture in its original context if you choose.
Twitter doesn’t have an internal way to backup post. And although there are plenty of third-party sites which will backup for you, depending on which service you use, they will export different types and amounts of data.
Backupify (formerly TweetBackup.com) allows you to log in via Twitter (it will ask you to authorize the app) and then enter your email address. It does a daily backup of all your Tweets and a list with all the people you follow without having to install any software. Note: it can take up to 48 hours to build your first backup and Twitter has certain API (Application Programming Interface) limitations that limits backup only of the timeline that is visible to you. But once you do a Twitter backup they will maintain that record forever. Since the time of this writing, the service has expanded to include other social networks and renamed itself to Backupify.
There is No True Backup for YouTube & Flickr
Hopefully you already have a backup somewhere because you technically can’t upload to YouTube or Flickr without the native file living somewhere locally. But, if you’ve bought a new computer since you uploaded, you may not have the original. If this is the case, or you plan to upgrade sometime in the future, you should look into online backup or cloud solutions to save all the files on your computer as well in case of virus or other catastrophes. Here is an article that offers various online backup service reviews and makes recommendations as to the best of the best.
Most of these services are free or very inexpensive and offer a great way to make sure you control where your important photos, contacts and other data is hosted and saved. Just in case… Once you feel you are backed up, and ready, you can delete your accounts if you dare.
A good tip for everyone, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket and trust your only copy to a website or your hard drive. A best practice we recommend is to always keep any files that are important to you on your hard drive and at least one other local backup like a cloud service.
Have You Ever Backed Up Your Social Media Data?
I hope this information helps you in your quest for backing up your digital life. Have you ever backed any of your data up? Are your Facebook photo albums safely secured in your possession? What about those all important contacts in your LinkedIn account?