In my search for a backup solution to my Facebook problems, I have come across a few programs that do attempt to backup your Facebook profile with limited success. However, after reading in detail about how most of these work I would recommend against using the vast majority of them because they actually scrape Facebook’s data in an attempt to backup your account. This is a violation of Facebooks Terms of Service, and can get you disabled if they catch you doing it.
I have only found one product so far that gives you the ability to backup your Facebook account using the API (which doesn’t violate their ToS). It’s called Social Safe, and it’s only USD $2.99, for a limited time. Since its an Adobe Air app, it will run on both Mac and Windows with no worries. I actually came across this by searching The Next Web for solutions and came across this post. However, it looks like Social Safe has added a few features since back in June when it was posted.
What Does It Do?
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For $2.99 Social Safe backs up all of your pictures, wall posts, and even friends automatically and without fear of ending up disabled. Other than pictures, you may not realize right now how important the rest of this data is until its gone. This is what makes Facebook valuable: Your friends and your wall posts.
The process is pretty simple as well, though it can be a little confusing at first. You will be asked to login to your account using Facebook Connect and to will have to allow Social Safe to access your information. Then when in Social Safe, click the Settings button (it looks like a gear). Make sure you check everything that you want to backup (I suggest clicking everything). Once you have everything set up, click Done and then the down arrow to get back to the download screen, and download your profile.
The first time you run the app, it will take a few minutes depending on how large your account is and how many photos you have. However, later backups will take less time, depending on how frequently you backup, since backups are incremental. Incremental backups also make this software a lot like Time Machine for Mac. Each backup is dated and gives you a brief description of what changed since your last one.
The Wall feature will also only go back so far, so for users like myself who have been members of Facebook for a long time — don’t expect to get wall posts from years ago, or even a few months ago. This is just another reason why you should backup often, if saving wall conversations are your thing.
The Wall Post feature also only backs up conversations on your wall. I would like it if you could get selected conversations from friends’ walls, but I guess this is limited by the Facebook API.
Keep in mind, this will not download any pictures you are tagged in, but the website says they are working on this feature.
Why Should You Backup?
While this does backup your account, this won’t populate a new account if you get disabled, but what it does do is give you access to the information that you have stored on Facebook. For instance: Pictures. I didn’t realize at the time, but I have over 700 pictures on my Facebook profile and most were taken with multiple cameras as well as mobile phones. Facebook is actually now the only copy of some pictures that I have, and I would guess that there are other users like me. While exporting pictures is pretty cumbersome at the moment — you have to copy and past each one to a new location — it’s still better than nothing.
The other reason to backup would be to keep track of “friends.” Like I said in my previous post, the majority of friends I have on Facebook are old friends, however, I have done some pretty impressive networking through Facebook and I don’t have any other way of getting in touch with these people.
I can tell you from experience, if you were to ever have to start a new account, there isn’t any way you can remember every person you’ve met on Facebook. Social Safe solves that by giving you a link directly back to your friends pages, which will allow you to quickly request for them to re-add you as a friend.
If you are a military member like myself, this is also a great viewer for your photos and wall posts offline — I personally would have purchased Social Safe for this reason alone. When deployed abroad, sometimes you just want to be able to view pictures of loved ones or look back on conversations to remind you of home.
Social Safe may not be perfect, but its better than nothing at all. For ony $2.99, it’s a small price to pay if you ever get disabled, just need to access pictures or general information from your Facebook page when you don’t have an internet connection.
[DISCLAIMER: I purchased this program myself and I am not getting any kickbacks or compensations from Social Safe for this review — I’m just a happy user.]