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How To: Create a Backup of Your Entire Facebook Account

Living in the world of social media, we hear it all the time: “Facebook’s always changing things” or “If they mess with the privacy settings again, I’m leaving, and I’m not coming back” or the dreaded “My account got hacked. I can’t handle this any more.” But most of us – almost all of us – never leave Facebook. Why? It’s simple. Facebook says the average user has 130 friends, most of us active users have more. The thought of losing tabs on all of the people with whom I’ve managed to connect over the last three-plus years, not to mention losing the pictures and videos I’ve uploaded, leaves me feeling a little verklempt. And what if you make a change to Facebook which renders your account completely toothless? For example, Facebook recently offered users the ability to convert their personal Facebook pages into fan pages, something we don’t recommend unless you’re famous and don’t want a personal page anymore. After reading Christina Warren’s account of her page migration on Mashable, I’d rather have a root canal than migrate my personal page to a fan page. But just in case you push the button and find out that the die is cast, how would you ever piece your digital life back together again? There’s an answer which, although it’s not a perfect fix, can help you see what you had and attempt to get everything back in order. It’s Facebook’s “Download Your Information” functionality, and it’s equivalent to downloading the numbers from your cell phone to a spreadsheet; if you lose your phone, you’ll still have to enter them all back in, but at least you’ve got them somewhere. You can find it under the Account tab > Account Settings > Download Your Information. I have no idea how long it actually took – it was running in the background – but it spat out my life on Facebook in a 91 MB zip file separated into three folders: html, photos and videos. The HTML includes all of my albums, events, a list of my friends, messages, notes, photo pages, photos of me, my profile, video pages and my wall. The photo and video folders… well, if you’ve gotten this far in the post, you should be able to figure that one out. The most impressive piece of this is my Facebook wall. I was in a meeting the other day trying to remember when I joined Facebook. Because of this, I found out it was January of 2008. (Side Note- It’s odd to review the evolution of posts from Day One, when we were all trying to figure this social media thing out: “Loren Foxx is wondering why he ordered two pizzas last night” – January 19, 2008 – there has to be a hidden meaning there somewhere!) It also packed up all of my photos and videos, which is a handy trick; I’ve had three phones and four computers in that time, so putting all of it in one place would have been a difficult task, but it’s done. So if you’re ever thinking of packing it in on Facebook, or if the next great thing comes up and you’re trying to port your information over, or if you’re just concerned that one day you’re going to wake up and find out that this is all a dream, download your account information. You have absolutely nothing to lose.
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