2009-09-16: Announcing ArchiveFacebook - A Firefox Add-on for Archiving Facebook Accounts

ArchiveFacebook is a Firefox extension, which helps you to save web pages from Facebook and easily manage them. Save content from Facebook directly to your hard drive and view them exactly the same way you currently view them on Facebook.
Why would you want to do this?  Facebook has become a very important part of our lives.  Information about our friends, family, business contacts and acquaintances is stored in Facebook with no easy way to get it out.  ArchiveFacebook allows you to do just that.  What guarantee do you have that Facebook won't accidentally, or in some cases intentionally delete your account?  Don't trust your data to one web site alone.  Take matters into your own hands and preserve this information.  Show it to your kids one day!
Currently ArchiveFacebook can save:
  • Photos
  • Messages
  • Activity Stream
  • Friends List
  • Notes
  • Events
  • Groups
  • Info
You can download the extension from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/13993/.  Once at this page, press “Add to Firefox” and follow the prompts for installation.  Firefox will prompt you to restart Firefox.  Once you do so, you should see a new menu called “ArchiveFB”.  At this point, ArchiveFacebook has successfully installed.
It should be noted that, at the time of this writing, ScrapBook should not be enabled while ArchiveFacebook is enabled.  This will cause instability issues within both programs.  You can easily disable an extension from within the Firefox “Add-ons” dialog.  This dialog can be found in the “Tools” menu of Firefox.

Logging In:
First of all, make sure you are logged into your Facebook account.  ArchiveFacebook uses Firefox to view the pages of your account and then save them.  So, you need to be logged into your account in order to have the proper authentication and authorization to archive your account.
Once logged in, it is a good idea to open the sidebar.  To do this, click the ArchiveFB --> Show in Sidebar.  The sidebar should appear on the left hand side of the screen.  The sidebar does not need to be open in order to archive, but it provides a richer interface for doing so.
To archive your account, press ArchiveFB --> Archive.  This will redirect you to your Facebook profile page.  You will then see a dialog box telling you that you activity stream will be expanded.  If you press “Cancel” the archiving process will be completely cancelled.  If you press “Ok”, your activity stream will be expanded, displaying all activity done on Facebook since your accounts creation.  As your activity is being retrieved, you are presented with another dialog box that lets you know the date of the current activities that are being retrieved.  You may cancel this process at any time and your account will still be archived.  Your activity stream will be archived up until the date where you cancelled the retrieval.

Once the retrieval of your activity stream has completed, the archiving process will begin.  You will see a window that says “Capture” on it.  This window drives the archive process.  Each page to be archived will be listed in the scrollbar pane.


Browsing the Archive:
Once the archiving process has completed, you will see an entry in the sidebar that says “Facebook | username date” where username is your Facebook username and date is the current date.  Click on the entry.  You will see your Facebook profile page appear and at the bottom will be an annotation bar where you can highlight text or make comments on a page for your personal records.  Click through your archived Facebook pages to ensure that all pages have been archived.  All pages listed in the introduction should be archived.  You can tell if a page has been archived by placing your cursor over a link.  Look in the bottom left hand corner and Firefox will show the location of the link i.e. if the location starts with “file://”, it is on your hard drive, if it starts with “http://”, it is on the web.  If it is not on your local hard drive, try to archive your account again.  If the second attempt doesn’t work, please notify us and we will attempt to fix the problem.

ArchiveFacebook was developed at Old Dominion University (ODU) by Carlton Northern. Michael L. Nelson (ODU) and Frank McCown (Harding University) served as advisers. You can read more about the add-on in the research paper entitled What Happens When Facebook is Gone? presented at JCDL 2009.
ArchiveFacebook was developed by modifying code from ScrapBook. Note that ArchiveFacebook will not work correctly when ScrapBook is installed.  You will need to temporarily disable or uninstall ScrapBook before using ArchiveFacebook.
When running ArchiveFacebook, it may take several minutes to several hours to complete, depending on the amount of content to be archived.  At the beginning of the process, Firefox will be temporarily frozen while it retrieves your activity stream.  You may cancel this retrieval at any time and the archiving of the rest of your account will still occur.

User Manuals:




  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I installed it but don't need it at this time. How do i uninstall it?

    Also, I started to archive but it was taking too long and so I canceled and aborted. How can I delete what was saved off of my Hard Drive ?

  3. To uninstall, go to the Firefox menu Tools -> Add-ons -> ArchiveFacebook -> Uninstall.

    To delete what you archived, in the ArchiveFacebook sidebar view click Tools -> Manage and from this window you can delete your archives.

  4. Hi to all,
    I've another question...

    and "What happens when Google is Gone?"

    I think an Apocalypse Web ;-)

  5. heres a question? what happenes when this extension no longer works, how will we easily view our exported data. maybe a stand alone program to view the archives would be great.

    Also is there a option to rescan and update with infomation not present. so for example when more features get added and more infomation is able to be saved( such as wall to wall or friends pictures etc)

  6. Thanks for developing this software! I have a question. Can you only do complete backups, or can you do incremental ones? I mean, if I already have a backup from 11/21, can I just add info to make it up to date for 11/25?

  7. This software is great! The only feature that I'm missing is a separate backup of my links (www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=0000000000).

  8. Could you make a version for this site please ?
    Or give me your source code

  9. heya, is there an update coming? wont work on the new firefox....

  10. can the FB page be archived more than once--updates?

  11. Thanks for this useful tool, it's already become invaluable for me. I have either a tech support question or a feature request, depending on if I'm just plain "doing it wrong" or not. Can status comment threads be fully expanded?

    The archive seems to include the whole text of any visible comments, even where you'd normally have to click "See More". Although it's not visible when viewing the archive and clicking on "See More" does nothing, the full text does seem to be stored in the HTML.

    Unfortunately for me it does not expand any threads to show other presently hidden comments. For example when I look at my Wall page, many of my status updates have generated a thread of comments. There's a link to "View all 14 comments", I would like to have the full text of these 14 comments included in the archive process. Is this possible already and if so, how to I turn this on please? Thanks!

  12. Hey there great concept however doesnt seem to load on Firefox 3.5.7 will you be updating. I agree if a standalone app can be created, that would be awesome. thanks again

  13. Sadly, your add on don't work anymore. Could you do sometinh plz ?

  14. You tool works well for us. However, if you have "fan" pages under your main account, it doesn't seem to archive those.

  15. Dear Carlton

    Thanks for sharing.

    Do you think it would be possible for you (or some of your students) to implement incremental backup feature so that a given backup is stored as differences from the previous backup.

    Oh, and a configurable number of months to go back (defaulting to 12).



  16. This is such a great news,The addons in firfox is unique,but there is a problem if multi user signs in facebook,it won't work. Thanks for the article.
    Term Paper

  17. Thanks for the great tool ! I did run into a few problems:

    1. it gets stuck when expanding the activities of a certain date. By that I mean it keeps popping up the same popup saying it's expanding the activities for a certain date. On my first attempt, it got stuck on an August 2008 date. On my next attempt, it got stuck on a February 09 2009 8:04 date. I waited 15 minutes, but it kept popping up the popup for that date. Was it stuck ? How can I verify if it's stuck or not ? I have a 1.5MB/s Internet connection.

    2. during the actual archive creation, it tried to access the URL http://www.facebook.com/?ref=pf&_fb_noscript=1 . That hung, even when I entered the URL in my browser address bar. Looks like the parameter needs to be fb_noscript and NOT _fb_noscript (remove the underscore at the beginning).

    3. The majority of the content in the archive was pages I never visited. How can I verify if those pages were visited from my account ?

    Thanks !

  18. Without incremental backup, this tool is a bit brutal to use for later runs.

    For example, All I really need to download is about 20 more inbox messages, but I need to wait for it to grind through my entire wall and (many) photo albums.

    Perhaps add an option to allow backing up certain things only (inbox, photos, wall)

  19. Hello I was wondering if there is a way to have this archive friends Walls. and if that feature is not built in. Is there a place I could edit the code to archive facebook.com/name_of_person rather then facebook.com/profile Because I would not mind doing that part manually. Please please let know if there is a way to do this even if it means modification of the plugin. I am an art student at Minneapolis College of art and design and I want to do a project where I archive all my facebook friends in to books and make a new edition every year.

  20. Hi, the tool is very useful but it doesn't seem to archive the messages, any suggestions?


  21. Its not working on the newer version of firefox can you help me with that..


  22. Can one be sure that your company won't access my information on facebook?

  23. I ran into a major design flaw, and I can't believe no one has mentioned this: since this archiver crawls through all the links, it's apparently also crawling through the "logout" links. When it hits those, it logs me out of Facebook, and then archives all the subsequent pages from the point of view of a logged-out user (which is pointless). Manually filtering out the logout pages is a bit arduous. You might want to write in a function that filters them out automatically. Otherwise it's a fairly useless Add-on.

  24. This is EXACTLY what I have been looking for. One question. I have performed a complete back-up however there do not seem to be any messages backed up. The Messages link on the main index page takes me to the live facebook, rather than the archived one.

    What am I missing?

  25. Looks like a great start but there are still critical bugs. It gets stuck on certain links, saying "Connected" but then not doing anything. It needs to filter out more links by default - and also let the user use RegExp to filter links.

  26. UPDATE: Hello Everyone!

    After an anticipated wait we are glad to announce the release of version 1.2 of ArchiveFacebook. With a lot of bug fixes and stability testing on the new Facebook, the new version is packed with new features (like archiving extended comments to activity posts and likes). It is released to support the newest version of Firefox 3.6.10* with backward compatibility to all versions up to 3.5.*.

    Enjoy the new version and we are waiting for your feedback,

  27. Hello, are there any plans to make a MySpace version? MySpace is going to die way before Facebook. I'd like to delete my MySpace account because it's too much like Facebook anymore, but I have a lot of Blogs, etc. I'd like to archive first. (Yeah, I know I'm old school.) Thanks, Techbeauty

  28. The program seems not to work anymore with the new version of facebook...
    any new releases?

  29. LOVE the program! However, ever since the moment I took on the "new profile", Facebook's fabulous new cluttered mess, Acrchive FB will not complete a back up. Any enlightening news or advice on this?

  30. This worked fine for me last time I used it, in October. Now, it says 'Archive Facebook will now expand your activity stream' and nothing further happens. I've installed both the latest versions of the plugin and Firefox. Like other users, I suspect this has something to do with the new profiles and maybe nested comments that FB has rolled out. Hoping the plugin will be updated, as there's really nothing else like this out there! Thank you for your efforts on this thus far ...

  31. Needs update to run on new firefox/facebook

  32. i'm also waiting for that update. It's not working. Is there an update coming?

  33. any new information on the update?

  34. Great Work with this. Any plan to release a new version that wors with the new Facebook profiles?

  35. All: a new version that works with the new FF & Facebook is on the way. Hopefully just a week or two away.


  36. For all of those interested, ArchiveFacebook was re-worked from the ground up and is currently in an active state of development once again. A mostly complete version can be downloaded from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/archivefacebook/ , which is still awaiting review from the Mozilla Add-On administrators. Any issues that you encounter with the newest version can be reported via our Google Code bug tracker at http://bit.ly/archivefbbugs , the Mozilla Add-On website or with a simple comment here. We await your feedback!

  37. Thanks guys, the new version is so far working great for me. However it doesn't archive photos or messages. Please, please, please can it archive messages as that is what I really need it for.

  38. I installed the plugin and started an archive of just my activity stream. It's been almost two hours since that began and it has not yet finished. Am I to just let it run, or did I do something wrong? I can see the "UNROLLING WALL" animation still, but nothing has appeared in the sidebar yet.

  39. ben & 1ne Idea, please give the new version, 1.4 a try and let us know if you still experience these issues. The parsing & scraping schemes previously used were revised to be more robust.

  40. Is this Add-on still working with the current version of Firefox? Has it been superseded by another tool?


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