As with most social media or online accounts, there is a way to download and backup your existing data. Perhaps, more important, is the ability to backup existing conversations with others you’ve had on the network.
Maybe you want to remember a great talk with an old friend or family member? Maybe you just want to preserve your personal history?
Whatever the case, it is possible to download your Facebook messages to save as a local backup.
Before doing so, however, there are some limitations you must understand:
- You cannot download or backup data for conversations that have been deleted
- It is possible to back up any and all conversations — active or inactive — so long as they have not been deleted
- If you download directly from Facebook all conversations will be truncated which means trimmed to meet a certain character limit
1. Download Messages from Facebook
The easiest of methods, you can download your conversations and account data from Facebook directly.
The problem with this, of course, is that any of the conversations you acquire are truncated, which means you do not get the full conversation.
- Sign-in to your Facebook account.
- Click the arrow in the top right and navigate to Settings > Your Facebook Information. You will see a link that says Download a copy of your information to keep or transfer to another service.
- Click on View on the right-hand side. In the next window, you can choose what data to download and in what format.
- If you only want to back up messages, click the Deselect All option.
- Scroll down and tick the box next to Messages. Make sure the Data Range says All of my data and the format is HTML. Media Quality denotes the quality of any photos, videos and content you will download in the package. You can leave it as the default (Medium) or you can raise/lower it as you see fit.
- When you’re done, click the Create File button. You will now see a message at the top of the window letting you know that the file is being prepared for download. You will have to come back later to get the actual file. Don’t worry, Facebook will send you an email when it’s ready. When it’s ready you’ll receive both an email and a Facebook notification telling you it’s all set.
- Return to the Download Your Information page and click Available Files. You should now see the package you requested along with important details like the total size, creation date, and of course the configuration options: download or delete.
- Click the Download button to backup your Facebook conversation.
Your files are all backed up and you can do as you wish with them.
Just for reference, here are some of the details you can download from Facebook:
- Account activity logs
- Timeline information including posts, messages, photos and more
- Comments on other member posts
- Your friends and follower lists
- Advertisement engagements (clicks and views)
- A list of IP addresses used to access your account
2. Manually Save Facebook Messages
As a warning, the following method is tedious and if you’re not careful it’s possible to lose your work in the middle of the process.
On the plus side, you get the entire conversation from start to finish, saved locally for offline viewing.
You will also be opening the conversation you wish to copy, which means the person on the other side will see you have viewed any incoming messages.
This may be important if you wished to hide the fact that you viewed the conversation.
- Open the Facebook conversation you wish to backup in a browser. Preferably do this on a desktop or laptop computer.
- Start scrolling until you reach the beginning of the conversation. You will know you are at the start of the conversation when you see Conversation started at x time at x date. You also will not be able to scroll up any farther.
- Double-click on a single word at the top of the conversation, right-click and choose Select all from the context menu. Once everything is highlighted be careful not to click or undo the change. Press CTRL+C or right-click on the highlighted text and choose Copy. Some extra text will be copied like menu items and account names, that’s okay don’t try to unselect it you’ll undo all your work.
- Open a plain text document. You can use Notepad, Wordpad, Microsoft Word, or any similar app. You can even use Google Docs if you wish to store the conversation in the cloud.
- Click somewhere inside the document and paste the messages. If you were successful you should now see the entire conversation, pasted within the text document. If you wish, you may sort through the copied text and clean it up a little. In the screenshot, for example, I would delete “Type a message…” as that was just random text in the type field that got copied.
- Save the document by choosing File > Save or (Save as). If you get an error claiming you cannot save the document it means that you need to use a separate form of encoding (by default ANSI will be selected). This should rarely be a problem, however, and you can save as a normal text (.TXT) file in most cases.
That’s it. You’re all backed up!
You can do it the easy way or the hard way, but ultimately, you have two options for downloading your Facebook messages, and any other account data that you might want to back up.
If you have any questions or concerns feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to reply in a timely manner.