Downloading All Messenger Data from Facebook

December 26, 2020

For most people, Facebook Messenger has become an essential part of their online social life. It holds true for me for sure. I have deactivated my Facebook account a lot of times but I couldn't seem to remove myself from the site's chatting application not just because most of my friends communicate through channel, but mainly because that's where my family's group chat is. My root family live on different houses now and so the chat has been our main tool for checking in on each other, posting photos of babies and cats (from me πŸ˜‚). I think my family has been in that platform for more than three years now and as a result, we have already shared A LOT of photos of videos in there.

For a few months now, I have been contemplating with having my own copy of all the media files that we've shared in that channel. You know, with the physical photo album becoming basically an obsolete paraphernalia now, I thought there might be another way to get hold of our photos (that contain our precious memories throughout the years) and archive it offline because well Facebook might not be here forever, or and the data might get deleted in any given time without our control. Well I think it's also because 2020 has been so rough of a year, and one thing that I have learned during that year is that I should treasure my family more, and should share more memories with them. And so finally, my long-due task came into fruition today: I have finally downloaded all of my Messenger data from Facebook, all in the convenience of just clicking a button! Yup, I didn't just download my data from my family group chat but for all the other chats that I made on Messenger ever since I signed up on Facebook!

To be honest, I have been trying to find a way to do this for the longest time. I tried finding that save-all-photos-and-videos-from-this-group-chat functionality in the desktop and mobile versions of the app, but there weren't any. I thought I had no choice so I went with the brute-force way and actually went through every photo and video that we exchanged in our chat (in reverse chronological order). After several hours of exhaustingly repeating the steps of downloading each photo (I got to until the November 2019 timestamp), I thought -- there should be an easier way to do this. With what I have learned in life, if it's difficult, mostly probably you're doing it wrong.

And so with the help of a little googling here and there (yup, I forgot, Google is our friend!), I have finally found the solution! Apparently there's an option present on the Facebook site (desktop version) wherein you can download all of your Facebook historical data. Below are the steps to guide you:

[Note: these screenshots may change. These were taken from the site on December 2020.]

1. At the upper-right part, just beside your profile photo and account name, click on the down arrow, and extra options will appear like below. Select Settings & Privacy.

2. Under Settings & Privacy, select Settings.

3. Under Settings, click Your Facebook Information.

4. You will be redirected to a page like below wherein there are a number of options on what data you want to be included for download. This tool is so cool because it gives the option to download all data ranging all dates, so the data you uploaded on Facebook since you created your account is available for download. 

The file to be generated might become very large, depending on the options you selected here. For my purpose, I deselected all others and just checked Messages.

After clicking the Create File button, the process is initiated. It will take some time for the download link to be available (again this is dependent on the scope of data you selected on the setup page). Good thing is that Facebook will notify you once the download link is available.

A notification similar to this will appear on your account.

I am on Facebook for more than 10 years now, so just imagine the vast amount of data my Messenger now has. My download link was for a file 4GB in size. It is a ZIP file with all the data neatly arranged in folders with the chat name as the folder name (that's neat Facebook!). And just within a few hours, my download finished and I now have all of my Messenger data backed up!

I have been putting off this task for ages, but it kept on budging my mind. And now that I have finished doing it, I got to learn a lot of things as I reviewed all the messages that I have sent in our family group chat:
  • Our photos and videos comprised mostly of photos and videos of the babies in the family. Every parent will be guilty of this - they have their phone photo gallery filled with photos of babies! Of course this is our family's way of connecting the babies to their grandparents, and it's always a joy to watch videos and see photos of the babies in the chat room. Sometimes we even project them in slideshow in our TV and just laugh as we watch them in the living room.
  • My brother has soooo many selfies! Well it is understandable given his setup, but this fact was just made more obvious to me when I archived our photos. πŸ˜‚
  • I am taking photos of myself and my parents more frequently from now on. This is also one realization that I got upon scanning our chat gallery. I think there's a 1:30 ratio of me or my parent's photos versus the baby photos present there. I realized I don't take photos at home that much. Most of the photos that came from my dad were screenshots of Facebook news (especially from this year) and most of my photos were that of our cats.😽And so things will change from now on. This will also be my way of curating our lives, because well it's fact of life that we don't live forever, and my friends who had said goodbye to their parents have told me more than once that it is good (can't think of the proper adjective) to take lots of photos and videos of our parents while they are with us. And that makes sense, right... because this will not just benefit me, but also my nieces and also children-to-be (if the Universe permits it) because the only chance that my children might know my parents is through photos and videos. So yeah, that's what I am doing from now on. 
Sometimes if there's a recurring message that comes to you, it's a sign that a Universe is trying to tell you something. One of those messages is this one. Thank you Universe, message is now marked as read (and I did not seen-zone you anymore lol).

I hope this guide helps you in backing up your Facebook data. πŸ˜€

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