What if your Facebook account was suddenly disabled? This has happened to hundreds of users. Are you thinking of closing your Facebook account but don’t want to lose all your data?
If you are like me, you want to download and backup your Facebook data just in case. Here is a simple way to backup and archive your Facebook information using the ArchiveFacebook Firefox extension.
Archive Facebook is an experimental Firefox extension that allows you to backup Facebook data on your local hard drive. You can browse your archive as if it were your local copy of Facebook. Facebook does not let you upload this data in any way, so you cannot use it for restoring anything in case you delete your data or account in Facebook.
Archive Facebook backs up the following from your Facebook profile:
- Activity Stream
- Friends List
Note that your friends activity or data is not included in your archive. Also, if you prefer using a browser other than Firefox, you can use this extension by installing Firefox just to backup Facebook data, and then uninstall Firefox. Your backup will be usable from other browsers as well (see last section below).
Disable or Uninstall Scrapbook
Archive Facebook causes instability if the Scrapbook Firefox extension is installed. You should not run both of them simultaneously, so if you have installed Scrapbook, disable or uninstall it.
Get a Facebook Username
As of version 1.0, Archive Facebook works only if you have a vanity URL for your Facebook profile. If you don’t already have one, get a Facebook username for your account here. Once you can access your Facebook via http://www.facebook.com/your_name you are all set.
Install the Extension
To get started, install the Archive Facebook extension from the Mozilla Firefox Addons gallery. This is an experimental extension, so you will need to enable the option to allow you to download and install it.
After restarting Firefox, you should see a new menu item “ArchiveFB” in Firefox between the Bookmarks and the Tools menu.
Backup and Archive
Login to your Facebook account. You should be able to browse in Facebook before you start the archive process.
Go to ArchiveFB > Show in Sidebar and open the sidebar.
While you are seeing Facebook open in your browser, select ArchiveFB > Archive. You will automatically get redirected to your Facebook profile page and see the following dialog box:
Select OK to start the backup process. Cancel will not start any operation. Once you start the archive process, ArchiveFB begins to retrieve your Facebook stream in reverse chronological order. You will see a series of dialog boxes displaying how far back it has progressed in the retrieval process.
If you select Cancel on any of these dialog boxes, your archive will extend back in time only till that date and time stamp.
Once the retrieval process is complete, ArchiveFB will start downloading your Facebook data to create your backup archive.
The process may take several hours depending upon the speed of your connection and how long and extensively you’ve used Facebook.
Be patient, but if you find that the process is stuck on one particular item in the list, click Pause and then Start to resume. I found that this trick worked when ArchiveFB seemed to get stuck on a few items in the list.
Once the backup and archive operation is complete, you can see a new entry in the sidebar “Facebook | username date” with your username and the current date. This indicates that the operation was successful.
Browsing Your Archive
Just like any data backup software, you can have multiple sets of your Facebook archive made at different points in time, which will all appear in your ArchiveFB sidebar. Clicking on any of the entries in the sidebar browses that archive set, starting at your profile page.
Observe the browser address bar URLs when browsing your Facebook profile archive. It will show “file://” instead of “http://” indicating that you are browsing a local copy on your hard disk. You should be able to view your photos, friends list, notes, etc. from within your local copy.
You will see an Annotation Bar at the bottom of the browser. It has highlighting and annotation tools with which you can make notes about any of the items in your Facebook archive.
For Advanced Users and Other Browsers
ArchiveFB stores the copy of your Facebook data within your Firefox profile by default. You will find an ArchiveFB folder created inside your Firefox profile folder, where the archives created by this extension are stored.
What if you normally use a different browser? In the ArchiveFB sidebar, go to Tools > Options. In the Options dialog, go to the Organize tab. In the Location to Store Data, you can specify a different location for your archive.
From any archive set, you can open the “index.html” file to open and browse your Facebook archive data from within any browser.
Were you able to backup your Facebook data? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!