Browsers Internet

How To Backup & Archive All Your Facebook Data

Mahendra Palsule 11-10-2009

DataPortability LogoWhat 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:

  • Photos
  • Messages
  • Activity Stream
  • Friends List
  • Notes
  • Events
  • Groups
  • Info

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 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.

ArchiveFacebook Addon


After restarting Firefox, you should see a new menu item “ArchiveFB“ in Firefox between the Bookmarks and the Tools menu.

backup facebook data

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:

how to backup facebook data

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.

backup facebook photos


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.

backup 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.

Options Organize

From any archive set, you can open the “index.html” file to open and browse your Facebook archive data from within any browser.

Before you run off to backup your Facebook data, you might also want to check out our popular Facebook Hack Codes The 6 Best Facebook Hacks to Show Off Your Geeky Skills There are some helpful Facebook hacks that most users won't know about. If you use them, they can show off your geeky skills. Read More and Privacy Tips 10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy Read More !

Were you able to backup your Facebook data? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!

Related topics: Data Backup, Facebook, Mozilla Firefox.

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  1. Al
    December 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Can't seem to view my messages. I get an error saying:

    This content cannot be displayed in a frame

    To protect your security, the publisher of this content does not allow it to be displayed in a frame.

  2. Leslie
    November 30, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I installed archive FB and got a great version as a backup. Once that backup got outdated, I tried to learn to update or do a new backup. However, I couldn't figure out how to update the archive. So I tried deleting the original archived copy in order to make a new one. But that has not worked either. Help!

  3. Chris Watkins
    November 18, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Looks like a good first step, but ultimately I want something more subversive - something that backs up all my data, media and connections so that I can more easily migrate to another platform when a free and open source alternative becomes available (or at the very least, something and less controlling than Facebook).

  4. Doria
    October 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    So good to know ! So good to have a backup ! Thanks !

  5. Pascal
    October 14, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Apologies Mahendra I missed that statement. Interestingly I took it for a spin and noticed that it has archived photos I'm tagged in i.e. my friends photos, not my own content and friends status updates etc. Exactly what you want from a back up tool (I should know!!) but according to Facebook we as users do not have the right to download this type of content.

    Still, this is a very exciting area and I'm sure we'll all benefit from Facebook's increasing openness of our data so that we can in time have safe backups of our online existences.

    I wasn't fishing for a write up - as if I'd do such a thing ;)

    All the best - Pascal

  6. Mahendra Palsule
    October 14, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Pascal: Thanks for your comment. I'm not sure about whether ArchiveFB meets Facebook's terms, but I can clarify that it does not download other people's content as I've clearly noted in the post.

    While SocialSafe is indeed a promising tool to use, it is not free. We write only about free software here at MakeUseOf. :)

  7. Pascal
    October 14, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Thanks Brad! Quick disclaimer - I work for SocialSafe which is also a Facebook back up tool.

    Earlier this year we set out to address the concern of people investing so much time and effort building and maintaining their Facebook presences without any form of back up. Now Facebook is pretty reliable but occasionally it can have a blip - last week for example around 150k users were affected and may have lost the most recent activity, Facebook can't say for sure. A friend losing his entire account was the spark of this obvious idea!

    SocialSafe isn't as comprehensive as ArchiveFB because it operates through Facebook's official API. We wanted to ensure that we did not put our users at risk as there have been horror stories of people losing their accounts after using apps that 'scrape' their accounts. Facebook's terms prevent a user from downloading other people's content - we are however currently working with them to find a solution that everyone will be happy with.

    ArchiveFB seems fantastically simple to use but I'm concerned about the download everything approach and whether the developers are confident that this somehow circumvents Facebook's terms.

    All that aside, it's a great article Mahendra!

  8. Brad Ross-MacLeod
    October 12, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I've been using SocialSafe for a while now and it's pretty awesome. It's an AIR application and they just released a new version that includes Wall backup!

  9. Howard Pearce
    October 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Looks like it is based upon scrapbook and not surprisingly seems to interfer with it to some extent.

  10. Pedro Cassian
    October 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    id like to back up my wall