How to Download a Copy of Your Facebook Data

By Jamie Crager, Scott Ayres, Melanie Nelson, Daniel Herndon, Jesse Stay

Always remember that you don’t own your space at Facebook. If you violate Facebook’s terms of service, you may find yourself locked out of your account. If that were to happen, you’d lose access to all the content you’ve added to Facebook: status updates, pictures, video, comments, friends and their contact information, and so on.

Facebook makes it so easy to use your smartphone to upload pictures and updates that many people use their phones to record and share important life events directly to Facebook. It’s a good idea to make a habit of backing up your data on a regular basis if you’re consistently keeping important content (for example, vacation photos) on Facebook rather than somewhere else.

Your download will include everything you’ve uploaded to Facebook, including status updates, pictures, video, private messages, chats, and a list of Facebook friends and their contact information (if they’ve enabled that on their account).

To back up your data, follow these steps:

  1. On the General Account Settings page, click the Download a Copy of your Facebook Data link.

    The Download Your Information page appears.

  2. Click the green Start my Archive button.

  3. Enter your password (if requested to do so) and click Submit.

    The Request my Download dialog box appears and explains that it will take some time to create the backup file.

  4. Click the Start my Archive button.

    Facebook tells you that it will send a message to the primary e-mail associated with your account when your archive is ready.

  5. Click Okay.

  6. When you receive the e-mail stating that your archive is ready, click the link to download the file to your computer.

When you open the archive file, you find the following information:

  • Your biographical timeline information (your contact information, interests, work history, and so on)

  • All your status updates and comments by you and your friends

  • All photos and video you uploaded to your account (and the comments associated with them)

  • Your friends list

  • All the notes you wrote and shared

  • All your sent and received private messages

It’s great that you’ve backed up your Facebook information, but you can go a step further and save the file to your computer as well as another source (for example, Dropbox or an external hard drive). That way, if something happens to your computer, you’ll still have your content.