Let’s face it: we post a huge amount of information on Facebook. It doesn’t even matter whether we’re using the hugely popular social network for business or for pleasure. They’re all there: status updates, photos, videos, notes, links, messages, apps, etc.
Imagine if we suddenly lose all these tomorrow. So much social data, lost in a digital black hole. It would be like Yahoo! GeoCities all over again.
Don’t let any unexpected turn of events mark the end of the world – or the end of your Facebook life. Because it won’t be, not with these great ways to download, store, and back up your Facebook data.
(Hey, and while you’re at it, make sure you check out our recent guide on how to create a Twitter archive.)
Facebook’s Download Your Information feature

Not many users know about it, but Facebook has its own information backup tool, which you can access by going to your “My Account Settings”. (Check out TechTickle’s step-by-step guide.) The feature lets you download a copy of your photos, videos, wall posts, messages, friends list, and other information on your profile – all compressed and stored in a single zip file. Once you open this zip file using your Mac, Windows, or Linux computer, you’ll find an index.html file, which contains all your Facebook data, viewable using any browser and looking like a stripped-down version of your Facebook wall.
Mozilla Firefox ArchiveFacebook extension

Firefox users can also create archives of their information on Facebook using the free extension, ArchiveFacebook. Once downloaded and installed, ArchiveFacebook enables users to save photos, messages, activity streams, friend lists, notes, events, and groups – directly into the computer hard drive. The data is then made available offline, viewable in the same way that Facebook.com is on the Firefox web browser.

Backupify isn’t exclusively for backing up Facebook data, but the cloud storage service does a great job of doing that, too. It regularly saves your photos, friend lists, links, notes, events, and status updates. You can sign up for a free version, which gives you 2 GB of storage. The data is stored in the cloud, on their S3 Amazon server or your own. Apart from Facebook, Backupify’s Social Media Backup feature covers information from Twitter, Gmail, Google Docs, Flickr, Basecamp, Picasa, and other social media services.

The new web service SocialSafe speaks with the urgency of “saving your online social life now”. As a digital diary that backs up your online social memories, SocialSafe allows you to securely export your Facebook data like albums, friends, and profile information directly to your hard drive. A digital diary function enables viewing of your social history – all for free – but if you sign up for a Pro account ($6.99), you get other features, like backup of tagged photos, backup of wall posts, personalized digital diary with all kinds of themes, and integrated search across all backed up content. Right now, that content is only limited to Facebook, but backup of your data on Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, YouTube, and WordPress is coming soon.

Another great Mozilla Firefox extension for backing up your Facebook data is FacePAD, developed by a 24-year-old student in Washington named Arthur Sabintsev. The tool allows you to download – with a click of a button – the photos on your Facebook albums, your friends’ albums, or even albums from Facebook fan pages and event pages. (Only the first 200 photos in an album can be downloaded, though.) Right now the FacePAD extension is available only for Firefox, but Arthur says that a Google Chrome version is in the works.
Chit Chat and Pidgin

So far, we’ve outlined the ways in which you can save most of your Facebook data, but what about your Facebook chat history? There are a number of options for that, too. One is Chit Chat for Facebook, a free third-party chat desktop client that not only allows you to chat with your Facebook contacts outside of a Web browser – it also enables you to save and view your Facebook chat history. Or you can use Pidgin, another chat application that lets you log into your accounts on multiple chat networks. One of these networks can be Facebook, but you’ll first have to install the third-party plugin for Facebook chat.