Saving your Facebook Data

Welcome to the State Library at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources’ instructional series we’re calling Information University or “Inform U” for short. Our work is supported by a Library Services and
Technology Act‐funded North Carolina Statewide Leadership Grant. This tutorial will tell you how you can save your Facebook pictures, videos, updates, messages, and other data from your profile. It’s meant for the average private citizen who has a profile on Facebook. This tutorial does not talk about saving a Facebook page, which is what a lot of government agencies or business might have. If you’re a North Carolina state government agency, contact the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, which can archive your Facebook page for you. It is estimated that about 51% of Americans who are 12 and older have Facebook profiles. Many people record events and thoughts on Facebook on a daily basis. Those thoughts or events, including photos and files, are posted using cell phones and other mobile devices as well as traditional desktop computers. Copies of those photos and files may remain on
a computer or phone after you upload them to Facebook, but, how many phones or computers
have you had in the last ten years? And, how much do you trust your computer, phone, or Facebook
account to be around for more than a few years? Websites and trends come and go. The pictures, video, and content posted on Facebook may be something you or your children
will want to remember in years to come. While Facebook has been around since 2004, we can’t count on it to always be there, and can’t trust it will always
have all the images and posts we made today. Luckily, Facebook makes it easy to save your stuff. It has a built‐in tool that allows you to download data from your profile, so you can easily save your pictures, videos, updates, and private messages. This means all the pictures of events or
family members, which you may have taken with a cell phone you no longer have and posted immediately to Facebook, can be saved elsewhere, as well, to be enjoyed for many years to come. There are three simple steps to saving your Facebook data. First, go to your account and notify Facebook
that you’d like to download your data. Second, wait for Facebook to prepare your files to be downloaded. And third, download the files and back them up. To let Facebook know you’d like to download
your data, go to your “account settings.” There is a link in “general account settings” that
reads “download a copy of your Facebook data.” Then, click “Start My Archive.” Facebook will send a message to your primary email account
when your data is ready to be downloaded. (Your primary email account is listed on your “General Account
settings” page if you can’t remember which it is.) Next, you simply wait. Your files may take an hour or more to prepare. We suggest that you don’t post to Facebook
or make any changes to your profile while your files are being prepared. If you
do make a change between the time Facebook notifies you that your files are ready to
be downloaded and when you follow the link emailed to you to download them, you’ll simply be prompted to
“Start your archive” again. Follow the link Facebook sent you in your email and download the file. It will be in a “zipped” format. This just means Facebook has packaged all the files together and made that package smaller, so it’s easier to download. You’ll need to unzip that file to find all of your data. If you try to open the file, your computer should unzip it automatically to make your files accessible to you. If not, you may need to download a program that can read “zipped” files. The zipped file contains folders named after the types of files inside. The html folder has the website code for your photo albums, notes you have posted, everything you have posted on your wall and others’ walls, and your private messages with other users. The photos folder contains individual folders for each photo album associated with your Facebook profile. Inside each folder are jpgs of all the photos you have posted in that album. Photos will have the same name you gave them when you uploaded them. If you didn’t name them, a series of numbers will make up the filename. Videos will all appear in the video folder. All videos are downloaded in the MP4 format. An index file will also be included with the more personal information Facebook has about you ‐ your relationship status, birthdate, a list of all the pages you have “liked,” etc. A “readme” text file is also included that provides the date and time you requested the data download. Keep in mind that your data download will NOT contain pictures, videos, or notes that you were tagged in that others have posted. Now that you have your Facebook files on your computer, you should also back them up in multiple locations, such as an external hard drive, a flash drive, or cloud
storage. Just like Facebook or your phone, it is unlikely that this same
computer will be in use even a few years from now. Ensuring that your data is located in at least one other location decreases the likelihood that it will be lost if your hard drive
crashes or something gets accidentally deleted. Backing up your files is easy! Some computer systems have a backup system built in. Others require that you install software or perform the steps manually. Find a schedule that works for you when you
will remember to back up your files. Depending on how active you are on Facebook, you may want to work out a schedule for downloading your data on a regular basis: once a month, for instance, or once every few months. Once you decide on the frequency, add a reminder to your calendar. Saving the images, status updates, and other posts you’ve made to Facebook means saving your life. It means your history can be enjoyed by you, your family and your friends in the future.


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