Facebook has woven itself into the fabric of everyday life in ways that seemed unimaginable when the social networking platform launched in 2004. There were 1.13 billion daily active Facebook users in June 2016, with the vast majority (1.03 billion) accessing Facebook daily via their mobile devices.
These users have embraced Facebook as an easy and convenient way to communicate with family and friends, either publicly or through private messaging. But Facebook has become much more than a digital platform for keeping up with family and friends; for tens of millions of people, it has become the primary storage service for their personal content.
Facebook users by 2013 had uploaded more than 250 billion photos to the site. In that year an average of 350 million photos were uploaded daily, which breaks down to 4,051 photo uploads per second. While some of these photos may be relatively unimportant even to the Facebook users posting them, many are highly personal – photos of babies, graduation and wedding ceremonies, reunions, distant relatives, etc. – and therefore of great value to their owners and others.
Photos and other digital content also are important to the millions of people who use Facebook as a primary – and often their main – business tool. Sole proprietors and larger organizations alike store customer contact information and other digital business assets on the social networking company’s cloud, interact with customers, and roll out marketing and branding campaigns.
Traditionally, in a hypothetical scenario where your household was up in flames, it was common form to first rescue your family photo albums because they contained records and memories that could be forever lost to the fire. Today those albums are digital, but we should be just as prepared to prevent them from falling victim to disaster.
Content at Risk
Whether the reasons are personal, professional, or both, Facebook has evolved into a – perhaps the - major cloud-based platform for storing important digital content. Some of this content is irreplaceable; for example, many smartphone owners upload a photo or video to Facebook and then delete it from their devices to save storage space. Though this frees up space on their mobile devices, the only copy of that content that remains is in the Facebook cloud.
That’s a risk for obvious reasons. And while Facebook (and other cloud providers) presumably put a lot of effort into ensuring the privacy and security of their clients’ personal information and digital content, bad stuff happens in the cyber world. Though fresher data is unavailable, Facebook said in a 2010 infographic on security that, on any given day, only .06% of the social network’s roughly 1 billion logins are compromised. As the tech media noted at the time, that percentage actually translated into 600,000 compromised logins daily.
Remember, a compromised Facebook login means that a hacker has full control over a user’s account. Granted, hackers may be more interested in using this temporary power to launch some sort of financial scam from the user’s Facebook account, but they also can post content and send invitations under the user’s name, view personal information, and delete everything in the account on a whim.
Hackers and other cyber criminals aren’t the only threats to user content stored on Facebook’s cloud, though. Users can unintentionally delete their own content, and app malfunctions can lead to digital data loss from the social network’s servers. Or, as some unfortunate office workers and students have found out, an account left logged in is an account that’s easily tampered with - whether by an opportunistic office prankster or a more malicious individual.
Facebook does offer a seemingly simple way to back up data locally by clicking on “Download a copy of your Facebook data” in the users’ General Account Settings. But, as Facebook warns, “Unfortunately, there's no way to individually select which data you would like to download when you download your Facebook info. You'll have to download your file in its entirety.”
That may not be ideal for someone who has more than a decade’s worth of archived media in Facebook’s cloud. Worse, the download includes a lot more than a user’s timeline, activity log, and uploaded content; it also includes “information that is not available simply by logging into your account, like the ads you have clicked on, data like the IP addresses that are logged when you log into or out of Facebook, and more,” the social network said.
The Components of Effective Facebook Backup
If backing up data on Facebook is too time-consuming, confusing, or cumbersome, people simply won’t do it, despite the risk. Thus a good system for backing up Facebook content would:
- Be incremental, backing up new content as it appears.
- Work on behalf of the user, even if the user is not running an application locally.
- Provide security so that the backed-up data is accessible only to the user and restricted from anyone else, including the backup solution vendor.
As more valuable personal and business content is stored on Facebook, users are increasingly likely to attract attempted hijackings and even ransomware attacks, in which data is held until a ransom payment is made. One in five respondents to the 2016 Acronis World Backup Day Survey said they would be willing to pay $500 or more to recover lost files.
A Good Idea
Acronis True Image 2017 allows Facebook users to back up photos, videos, timeline, comments, liked pages, and events from the social network.
Acronis True Image 2017 automates and simplifies Facebook data backup by:
- Backing up only the changes to a feed, rather than the entire feed each time (as Facebook currently does). This reduces backup size and time.
- Working in on Acronis server side on behalf of a user without user intervention.
- Having complete control of all user content and images without relying on native social media tools.