500 Words or Less: Native Backups

Most everyone has a nearing-out-of-control abundance of webmail and social media accounts. What happens when we are asked to preserve all of these accounts? Webmail is easy enough, there are plenty of tools, notably Outlook itself, to sync email. But what about social media data like Facebook or Twitter? There are a few tools out there, such as X1 Social Discovery, which can support these types of collection efforts as well. Thankfully some of these services offer users a way to download their data themselves. Four such “native backup” solutions are discussed below.

Google Accounts

Preserving Google accounts is very straightforward with Google Takeout. Once logged in, navigate to Google Takeout and select the different Google services to download. Services with a drop-down allow for some customization options including the desired output format or a specified subset of data for a given service. For example, you may choose to preserve all email or only email under specific labels.

After specifying the services and options, clicking the “Next” button allows you to configure the output format (ZIP, TGZ), archive split size (2GB, 4 GB, etc.), and the delivery method (an email or select cloud storage services). Regardless of the delivery method, archives can be managed from the Manage Archive page. This page will allow you to download available archives, display how long they are available (7 days), and review other archive requests made in the last thirty days.

Helpful Links

  • Backup FAQ: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?hl=en

Facebook

A logged in user can request a backup of their data by navigating to the Account Settings page and, under the “General” tab, clicking “Download a copy of your Facebook data”. Once Facebook gathers the user data, it sends an email to the connected account that the download is ready. However, the Facebook user will also get a notification and can access the download without needing access to the email account. Note that the archive created will only be available for download for a few days.

Helpful Links

  • Backup FAQ: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467
  • Data present in backup: https://www.facebook.com/help/405183566203254

Twitter

A logged in user can request a backup of their data by navigating to the Account Settings page and, under the “Account” tab, clicking the “Request your archive” button. An email will be sent to the connected account with a link to the archive once ready. Previously, you did not need access to the user’s email account to get the archive, instead, you could navigate to https://twitter.com/settings/account/tweet_export_download?, however, I could only access my archive by using the link sent in the email which had a few unique GUIDs. This suggests that access to the associated email account or, at least, cooperation from the user is necessary to download the archive.

Separately, clicking the “Your Twitter data” tab, under the settings page, allows you to see a variety of information specific to the user, such as profile information, associated devices, account access and location history, and, oddly, apps Twitter has “found” on connected mobile devices. Towards the bottom of this page, click the “Request your data” button. The email associated with the account will receive an email with a PDF attachment containing the data accessible on this page.

Note that a user’s timeline is not included in the archived Twitter data. This must be collected using another method or tool if relevant to the matter at hand.

Helpful Links

  • Backup FAQ: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20170160

LinkedIn

A logged in user can request a backup of their data by navigating to the Settings and Privacy page and, under the “Basics” tab, clicking “Download your data”. LinkedIn allows you to backup everything, “the works”, or specific categories of data.

LinkedIn performs the backup in two parts and sends an email when each backup is ready. After approximately 10 minutes, a user can expect to receive an email containing a link to the “Basic” backup package. You do not need access to the user’s email to download the archive as it will also become available under the “Download your data” tab when the “Request archive” button turns into “Download archive”. Similarly, hours later, the user will receive another email alerting them that the “Advanced” archive is available for download. Again, clicking the “Download archive” under the “Download your data” tab will allow you to download this information without having access to the email account. Note that the archive created will only be available for download for 72 hours.

Helpful Links

500 Words or Less: Native Backups

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