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How to download a copy of your Facebook data

Taking control of your Facebook data starts with understanding just how much of your data is stored with Facebook. The social media service offers a self-help tool that gives you access to your entire trove of personal data. It's actually a fairly simple process that lets you see all your photos, videos, friends, contact info, messages, apps, and quite a bit more that Facebook's storing on its servers.

How to download a copy of your Facebook data

  1. On the web, visit the General Account Settings page.
  2. At the bottom of your General Account Settings, click Download a copy of your Facebook data.
  3. Click Start My Archive.
  4. Enter your password and click Submit to continue.

  1. Click Start My Archive to start the process of creating your Facebook archive.
  2. Click Okay.
  3. Wait for an e-mail or Facebook notification letting you know your Facebook archive is ready to download.
  4. Click Download Archive.

  1. Enter your password and click Submit to download your Facebook archive.

Your archive will download as a ZIP archive. Inside you'll find four folders and an HTML page. Clicking on the HTML page will take you to a local representation of your Facebook archive. You can click on the links below your profile photo on the left to see everything Facebook is storing. If you're wondering, yep, Timeline goes all the way back to the beginning. I cringed — younger me was so angsty.

Want to know what data you'll be able to see in your Facebook archive? Here's what Facebook says will be made available to you:

Data TypeDescription
About MeInformation you added to the About section of your timeline like relationships, work, education, where you live and more. It includes any updates or changes you made in the past and what is currently in the About section of your timeline.
Account Status HistoryThe dates when your account was reactivated, deactivated, disabled or deleted.
Active SessionsAll stored active sessions, including date, time, device, IP address, machine cookie and browser information.
Ads ClickedDates, times and titles of ads clicked (limited retention period).
AddressYour current address or any past addresses you had on your account.
Ad TopicsA list of topics that you may be targeted against based on your stated likes, interests and other data you put in your timeline.
Alternate NameAny alternate names you have on your account (ex: a maiden name or a nickname).
AppsAll of the apps you have added.
Birthday VisibilityHow your birthday appears on your timeline.
ChatA history of the conversations you've had on Facebook Chat (a complete history is available directly from your messages inbox).
Check-insThe places you've checked into.
CurrencyYour preferred currency on Facebook. If you use Facebook Payments, this will be used to display prices and charge your credit cards.
Current CityThe city you added to the About section of your timeline.
Date of BirthThe date you added to Birthday in the About section of your timeline.
EducationAny information you added to Education field in the About section of your timeline.
EmailsEmail addresses added to your account (even those you may have removed).
EventsEvents you've joined or been invited to.
Facial Recognition DataA unique number based on a comparison of the photos you're tagged in. We use this data to help others tag you in photos.
FamilyFriends you've indicated are family members.
Favorite QuotesInformation you've added to the Favorite Quotes section of the About section of your timeline.
FollowersA list of people who follow you.
Friend RequestsPending sent and received friend requests.
FriendsA list of your friends.
GenderThe gender you added to the About section of your timeline.
GroupsA list of groups you belong to on Facebook.
Hidden from News FeedAny friends, apps or pages you've hidden from your News Feed.
HometownThe place you added to hometown in the About section of your timeline.
IP AddressesA list of IP addresses where you've logged into your Facebook account (won't include all historical IP addresses as they are deleted according to a retention schedule).
LocaleThe language you've selected to use Facebook in.
LoginsIP address, date and time associated with logins to your Facebook account.
LogoutsIP address, date and time associated with logouts from your Facebook account.
MessagesMessages you've sent and received on Facebook. Note, if you've deleted a message it won't be included in your download as it has been deleted from your account.
NameThe name on your Facebook account.
Name ChangesAny changes you've made to the original name you used when you signed up for Facebook.
NetworksNetworks (affiliations with schools or workplaces) that you belong to on Facebook.
Pages You AdminA list of pages you admin.
Pending Friend RequestsPending sent and received friend requests.
Phone NumbersMobile phone numbers you've added to your account, including verified mobile numbers you've added for security purposes.
PhotosPhotos you've uploaded to your account.
Photos MetadataAny metadata that is transmitted with your uploaded photos.
Physical TokensBadges you've added to your account.
PokesA list of who's poked you and who you've poked. Poke content from our mobile poke app is not included because it's only available for a brief period of time. After the recipient has viewed the content it's permanently deleted from our systems.
Political ViewsAny information you added to Political Views in the About section of timeline.
Posts by OthersAnything posted to your timeline by someone else, like wall posts or links shared on your timeline by friends.
Recent ActivitiesActions you've taken and interactions you've recently had.
Registration DateThe date you joined Facebook.
Religious ViewsThe current information you added to Religious Views in the About section of your timeline.
Removed FriendsPeople you've removed as friends.
Screen NamesThe screen names you've added to your account, and the service they're associated with. You can also see if they're hidden or visible on your account.
Spoken LanguagesThe languages you added to Spoken Languages in the About section of your timeline.
Status UpdatesAny status updates you've posted.
WorkAny current information you've added to Work in the About section of your timeline.
VideosVideos you've posted to your timeline.

Thoughts?

Do you think downloading your Facebook archive will be a good thing for you? Are you planning to keep using Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Mikah Sargent is Senior Editor at Mobile Nations. When he's not bothering his chihuahuas, Mikah spends entirely too much time and money on HomeKit products. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikahsargent if you're so inclined.

2 Comments
  • I have to say, I've stopped posting on Facebook. I'll sometimes read the feed but even that is beginning to really annoy me. I was not aware that this planet was filled with so many sheep. People who blindly pass on fiction as fact because some other ***** before them passed on fiction that he or she thought was fact
  • I don't really post, I don't know what to say. I comment on things, and I'll share if I'm at an event and upload pictures from a holiday, but I don't really write statuses or life updates. Browsing is painful, although for me that's mainly because of two things: - Ads. I remember when ads used to just be on the side on Facebook, like a respectable website. Then they started putting them in the news feed itself, and now it cuts out video to show you ads, so I end up only seeing little bits of videos on Facebook now. There's a difference between normal advertising, and then just plain smacking ads wherever you possibly can. - Custom clients. I still enjoy using Twitter, and that's mainly because I _only_ browse Twitter through Tweetbot. I have Tweetbot on both my Mac and my iPhone, and that's the only way I view Twitter. It gets rid of ads, it gets rid of Twitter's odd design decisions, it always displays my timeline in chronological order, it's just slick and clean. Of course I paid for Tweetbot, but it's well worth the money if the developer puts 110% effort in the client and it just works and works really well. I really wish Facebook had custom clients, so I could get rid of all the crappy ads, and so I can actually scroll down my feed without it getting slower, or crashing the tab and then me losing where I was up to in my feed. Oh yeah, Tweetbot remembers where I am in my feed, so I can just return when I'm ready, not like Facebook where I always have to start from scratch