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!