Backing up Facebook with SocialSafe

Facebook is a great service for keeping in touch with friends and sharing photos, though I do sometimes wish that an easy method existed for backing up all that data locally. Keeping photos, messages and comments in “the cloud” is a great system, but no system is infallable.

I was enthusiastic to try SocialSafe – a simple $2.99 backup utility for downloading all your Facebook content – friends, photos (both that you have uploaded and those you’re tagged in), and your profile. This review will take a look at how the process works, and the benefits of having access to all your Facebook information offline.

Downloading Content

When firing up SocialSafe for the first time you’ll be asked to connect the application to your Facebook account. This only takes a few seconds and is a seamless process. Once completed, you can begin selecting which information you would like to download:

Selecting what to Download

Selecting what to Download

I only selected the first four options as the final two are fairly redundant. They simply offer a way for SocialSafe to promote their application to your friends. If you think it’s a service they would be interested in, by all means check those two boxes.

Here’s what each of the selections will actually do:

  • Your Profile: Downloads a profile picture, basic information, all your personal “favorites” (books, movies etc), along with an employment history.
  • My Photo Albums: Re-downloads all the photos you’ve uploaded in the past (though you should still have all the originals backed up safely… right?)
  • Photos I’m Tagged In: Particularly useful, this will collect all the photos that other people have uploaded of you
  • Friends: Simply produces a local list of friends and their profile picture thumbnail. No information other than their name is downloaded.

The time taken to download will obviously vary depending upon the number of photos you’re tagged in and your connection speed:

Downloading Photos

Downloading Photos

Local Browsing

After everything has downloaded, you can start to make use of SocialSafe’s local browsing feature. The only area for which this holds any real use is looking at photos, though you can also see a list of friends and review your own profile:

Browsing Data

Browsing Data

The interface for doing so closely resembles Facebook itself, and will take you straight to the site for accessing content that hasn’t been downloaded. The link between offline and online is fairly seamless.

My only complaint here is the lack of a drag-and-drop export for photographs. You can right-click to copy an image elsewhere, but there’s no way to copy multiple high resolution images out of SocialSafe without viewing and copying each one individually.

The Benefits

The main advantage of browsing content locally – particularly photos – is the increase in speed. Although Facebook has done a great job of optimizing the load time of photographs, it’s impossible to beat having them already stored on your hard drive. SocialSafe feels much more responsive than browsing albums directly on the web.

If you’d like to move backed up data around or copy it elsewhere, you’ll find the information at: /Users/[USER_NAME]/Library/Preferences/com.1minus1.SocialSafeXXXXXXXXX/Local Store

It’s great to have the peace of mind that every photo taken of you is safely backed up and stored locally. I trust Facebook to be around for many years to come, but there’s no harm in taking an extra precaution! SocialSafe is priced at $2.99 and, because of the low price point, there’s no trial version available.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Do you think that it’s crazy to consider the notion that Facebook may not be around forever? Or is backing up content stored in “the cloud” simply good common sense? Feel free to leave a comment either way!


  • http://ashwinbihari.com Ashwin

    For me personally there doesn’t seem to much value in saving the contents of my Facebook profile. The pictures that are on there are stored locally on my own website and only a handful end up on Facebook. The only other thing on Facebook would be the status messages and that is certainly worth saving.

    So not sure what real itch this application is trying to scratch…

  • http://flickr.com/fiz FiZ

    Personally, I think saving your social profile is only half the battle because these sites tend to stick around for quite some time. Rather, import/export functionality when “The Next Big Thing ™” arrives is where the value is. If I can use this to manage my profile on my desktop, and then publish it to {x} different social profiles, then I’m game. Otherwise, this seems a little pointless when considering how long a site can live on after its user-base has left it for dead.

  • http://www.socialsafe.net Julian Ranger

    Open disclosure: I am Chairman of SocialSafe

    The previous comments are fair for many users, but also are not the case for lots of others. If you post your photos direct to Facebook without having them on your desktop or if you want photos you’re tagged in or if your account is hacked, lost or closed (it does happen and not that rare either from reports we receive) then having a backup is useful. We are working on backing up the Wall – as Ashwin infers this is something many would like – and as Fiz’s comment highlights an export function would be useful and we’re planning that too. An extra feature of SocialSafe that is being released this week is Time Capsule which allows you to see what friends you gained and lost when and how your profile and photos developed over time.

    If you have any suggestion for things that would make SocialSAfe more useful to you do please tell us.

    • Jerry L

      Please give us a way to export our friend’s contact info (email addresses especially). If you (or anyone else on here) have one, please feel free to contact me.
      Thanks
      Jerry

  • JR

    I’ve wanted exactly this for a while – thanks for writing it so I didn’t have to! Buying it as soon as I get home.

  • Midnight

    What’s not mentioned (and really, why isn’t it, MacAppStorm?? Seriously!) is that it’s an Adobe Air application – so you need to install Adobe Air to be able to use it. I do not wish to install Adobe Air, and would have preferred it if this was a native app – although I do understand the possible reasons why it isn’t.

    I was ALMOST tempted to get it, anyway – I am a devoted backup fanatic, and would like to have to option to backup my online life as well – but I understand it doesn’t backup my and my friends’ status updates and reports – which for me would be the main reason to back Facebook up.

  • Alex

    Developing the app in Adobe Air allows for OS compatibility since it is a global format.

    It’s a great way to maximize time and resources by not having to worry about coding native apps for multiple OS’s and having to support them all.

    Not sure what this personal vendetta is that you have against Adobe Air, but it makes no sense as it is a great platform to develop apps for. Air is not intrusive on your system’s OS and it’s a painless install. Just install it and stop bitching.

  • http://www.subcorpus.net/blog/ subcorpus

    backing up online stuff locally …
    backing up local stuff online …
    when will this end … ???
    anyways … gonna check out socialsafe …
    thanks …

  • http://www.pauladalesio.com.ar paula

    Will be writing a post reviewing the hardware/software of the Drobo soon

  • Jurre Claassen

    Afaik Facebook also has a back-up function implemented in your account-settings.

    Account Settings –> Download your information.

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