Download a copy of your Facebook data using these steps

Christopher Budd 25 Aug 2021

Prevent data loss by keeping a backup safe and sound on a local drive

We’ve all heard its origin story. Facebook, originally TheFacebook, was started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and some of his Harvard classmates as a social site for the school alone. It was a big hit, of course, and suddenly other campuses wanted in. Over time, more and more schools were granted use of the platform, and soon certain businesses were allowed to use it as well. Then, in September 2006, Facebook opened its digital doors to any and all users (as long as they were over 13). 

This means next month marks the 15-year anniversary of that moment. The realization made me stop and think, when did I join Facebook? 

First, I remembered with nostalgia that it was back in 2008. Then, I realized with alarm that 13 years of my photos, comments, shares, and announcements – essentially all of my social media activity – have been logged and stored on Facebook’s servers, but not my own. If my account were to get hacked, I could lose it all. 

NPR reported that Facebook account hacks seem to be surging, which is why we strongly recommend setting up two-factor authentication on your account. But while protecting data is good, having a backup copy is even better. That way, you’ll never experience data loss, no matter what happens. 

If you’re thinking, whoa, all my Facebook activity would comprise a pretty darn big file, you’re right. It takes a few days for Facebook just to prep the file for your download. But it’s a very easy process and there is really no reason not to do it. Here’s how.

How to download a copy of your Facebook info

  1. Click the “down arrow” account button in the upper right corner of Facebook

  2. Select Settings & Privacy, then Settings

  3. On the left, click Your Facebook Information

  4. Next to Download Your Information, click View

  5. On this screen, you select your date range (it includes an All Time option), and you can choose categories of data to include in or leave out of your download. You also choose which quality you want for the photos and media, and in which format you want the download, HTML or JSON. (HTML will display your data like a web page in your browser, but JSON will give you more easily editable data.) 

  6. Click Create File. Your request will appear as Pending in the Available Copies section of the Download Your Information tool. It may take a few days, but once the file is ready, Facebook will send you a notification. 

  7. When it’s ready, transfer the file to an external hard drive so you’ll always have a backup copy. 

  8. In six months, do this again, but only choose the Last 6 Months date range. (Or do it every three months if you want. Or every month.)

Getting in the regular habit of downloading your Facebook data and adding it to the external hard drive will ensure that your social media pics, your witticisms, observations, and heartfelt words are all safely backed up, should anything ever go wrong with your account.

I have always been an evangelist for backing up your data, and with Facebook’s 15-year anniversary coming up, I just had to share this tip with you. I hope you pass it on to your loved ones. Facebook’s much too fun to have the threat of data loss hovering over it at all times. Toss away your worries by backing up your data.

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