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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Download your personal archive from Facebook to recover lost photos



I used to carry a small point-and-shoot camera with me always. I used it for family outings, MINI Cooper events and general snapshots. And I had a system for copying the photos from the SD card and making sure that I had them saved in two places. The iPhone and specifically, the Facebook app for iPhone, changed everything.

My iPhone is my daily camera now and my backup system is busted. Many of my photos go straight to Facebook and although they arrive there as smaller, more compressed versions of the original images, I recently was thinking it would be great to have a method to easily save all your Facebook photos in an emergency. Guess what? That method now exists.


In Facebook, go to the Account tab and select Account Settings. Under the "Settings" tab you'll see "Download your information." Click on "learn more" and you'll go to a page that asks for your password. Submit your password and an archive of all your account data will be compiled into a zip file. Once it's ready you'll receive and email telling you so and also will receive a link so you can download it. The time it takes to compile your data will vary depending on the contents. Mine took just over an hour and ended up being a 314MB download.


I wasn't sure what the archive would contain and was surprised when it had much more than I expected. All my photos and videos were there and the photos were sorted in folders named for the individual photo albums I had created. Videos were the same size and resolution as they were when I uploaded them. Some of the photos I recovered were ones I thought I'd lost when my iPhone had to be replaced recently. They were in a "wall photos" album and I had forgotten they were there.

And here's the really cool included html index file and folder made all my content easily accessible, with links to my photos, videos, wall posts, status updates, messages and notes. It gives you all your Facebook content for offline viewing, stripped of the Facebook interface graphics, nice and tidy in a compact folder. The archive included all the content in my account, from the time I requested it back to my first Facebook post on March 28, 2008. Cool!

Facebook is the largest online photo sharing site in the world with an estimated 2.5 billion photos uploaded there each month. Most of those photos come from mobile devices and I'm guessing many people do not make a backup of their photos. Because I fear that important pieces of history could be lost, I'm still going to force myself to develop a better backup plan, and you should too. Until I get that done, however, it's nice to know I can use Facebook to quickly backup my photos and videos for some piece of mind.

You can learn more about downloading your Facebook content by going to the Help Centre.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 6:32pm]


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