Back Up Your Social Media and Webmail
Stop and think about your social media and webmail accounts. How important to you are all the conversations you have had, all the photos you have saved, all the contacts, friends and followers you have made? If the answer is 'pretty important' or better, you need to back up that data just as much as the data on your local hard drive. Here's how...
Is Your Online Data Safe?
“But Facebook has multiple redundant cloud servers in state-of-the-art climate- and power-controlled data centers redundantly scattered all over the world!” you may say. True, but so what? Facebook or any other social media site can delete everything you’ve put on its servers any time it wishes. Your account might be hacked or damaged by a malicious person.
Matt Kruse, heroic author of Social Fixer, the free browser add-on that eliminates innumerable Facebook annoyances (like hitting Enter for a paragraph and submitting an incomplete post), learned the very hard way that his data on Facebook could be taken from him in a heartbeat. Facebook didn’t like some of the ways in which Kruse enhanced the Facebook experience, so one fine day Kruse and Social Fixer suddenly had no Facebook pages.
Thousands of words of Social Fixer documentation written clearly and coherently by Kruse; uncountable more solutions contributed by over 1.5 million Social Fixer group members; the relationships between Kruse and those members; and everything else that makes a thriving online community were lost – or, rather, held hostage.
Kruse was pretty much forced to remove some features from Social Fixer that Facebook didn't like, chief among them the ability to see who unfriended you. It was a victory for corporate arrogance and a defeat for little guys who fix and improve what corporations put out half-baked. But Kruse got his intellectual property back.
Such arbitrary theft of important personal data happens all too regularly, and it's not always arbitrary corporate behemoths. There are natural disasters that wipe out data, and software “upgrades” that wreak more havoc than lightning striking a data center. An angry ex who knows your password might lock mangle, delete, or lock you out of your account. So yes, you need to back up your social media data. Here is how:
Backing Up Facebook
Facebook provides a backup method that is serviceable but crude (like everything on Facebook that doesn’t make money for Zuckerberg). There are three sets of data you can download; the first is what most people will care about, the others are mainly of interest to legal investigators.
To download all of your Timeline, private messages, photos, everything you have shared and more, click on Facebook’s “gear” icon in the upper-right corner of any Facebook screen. Then click on “Account Settings.” At the bottom of the resulting page you will see a link labeled “download a copy of your Facebook data.” That’s where you want to click to start the archiving of your data in a ZIP file. When the archive is ready, Facebook will give you a link from which you can download it.
When you have saved the ZIP archive to your local drive, you can expand its contents into a folder with subfolders. Your browser can read the index.htm file that will display crude links to different types of your data. The “ads” mentioned last are not ads to which you have been exposed but ads which you may have created and paid Facebook to shove into other members’ faces.
The archiving is crude, as I said. Text files and images that appeared together on Facebook can only be displayed separately in archive view. You can see the caption of an image and comments about it, but not the image. Or you can look at images and their metadata but you won’t see what was written about them. Text is unformatted so lengthy posts appear as walls of text without paragraphing.
The “Friends” link provides access to interesting information you cannot see on Facebook. For example, a list of the Facebook names of everyone you have “removed” or “un-friended” is available, along with names of everyone who has never accepted friendship requests you have sent. The latter is something you might want to check from time to time. You can also check who has been filtered from your News Feed so that they don’t flood it with obnoxious JPEGs they swiped from someone else, and give interesting parties a second chance if you wish. So Facebook’s backup system does have some utility beyond what’s available on Facebook itself.
Backing Up Instagram and Twitter
Instagram, now property of Facebook, does not provide a backup function but a third-party service does. Instaport can download not only Instagram photos but also image stored on Facebook and Flickr; more targets are planned in the future..
Twitter has a similar archive feature hidden in a similar way. On any Twitter page, click the gear icon and select “settings.” You will probably have to scroll down a page to find the “request your archive” button. You will receive an email when your ZIP file of Tweets is ready to download.
In addition to an HTML interface to your Tweets, you will also receive a .CSV file suitable for importing Tweets into a spreadsheet or database program, and another data file used by programmers who access the Twitter API.
Backing Up Your Google Account
Google+ does things a bit differently, as usual. Click on your profile picture in the upper-right and then click “Account.” Click “download your data” and you will have many options. You can download everything or select specific Google services whose contents you wish to back up. Note that "everything" includes your Google profile, Contacts, Google Drive, Google Voice, pretty much everything from Google+, and your YouTube account data.
But curiously, not your Gmail. However, I found a great little program called Gmvault that can back up your Gmail messages to your hard drive. It even has the ability restore them to your Gmail account if needed. Gmvault works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux computers.
Covering More Bases
SocialSafe is a fairly comprehensive and user-friendly solution to back up your data from multiple social media accounts. It supports Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr and blogs. SocialSafe compiles all your postings, conversations, photos, and contacts in a "story" format that easy to browse and search. It does a good job of backing up your social media stuff, but it lacks the ability to restore it to any of those services. SocialSafe is not free, but at about $7/year, it's pretty cheap. You can try it free for 60 days.
One more service you should know about is Backupify, a cloud-based backup service that can automatically back up your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Sites, Google Contacts, Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts. One unique feature of Backupify is that it can also RESTORE your data if your Google account is hacked, deleted or otherwise corrupted. Restore is not available for Facebook, Twitter and other types of accounts. There's a free version, which has some limitations, and paid versions starting at $5/month.
Do you backup your social media data? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Nov 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Back Up Your Social Media and Webmail (Posted: 26 Nov 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved