There are serveral reasons why it’s a good idea to backup your Twitter account on a regular basis;
- There might be a reappearance of the Big Fail Whale that caused Twitter to lose certain follower records in June/July 2008
- You may want to refer to an older Tweet that no longer exists on the Twitter network
- After the recent Twitter Phishing attacks, if your account was hacked, could you prove that it was initially your account? At least if you have the details of the people that you followed, you’ll find it easier and quicker to rebuild a new account.
Which leads us to the central question; How do I backup my Twitter account?
1. Online Twitter Backup Services
These sites allow you to login using your Twitter details, select what you want to backup, then work in the background until they are ready to present you with an csv file of your Twitter data. The file can then be viewed using a program such as Microsoft Excel.
However, due to the recent phishing related security concerns, many of you may prefer not to share your Twitter password with a third party site until some sort of user verification process is adpoted by Twitter.
At the time of writing I could only find two desktop tools to backup Twitter account data. The first tool, Twitter Backup, recently created by Johann Burkard allows you to backup your tweets. Just download Twitter Backup, enter your Twitter username and password (only Twitter will receive your login details) and the name of the file that you want to create. The software will request 20 tweets from your account every minute, so if you have posted hundreds or even thousands of tweets, this could take a while.
The second tool that I have just found is a Twitter backup java application that allows you to backup every aspect of your Twitter account, including your friends, followers, tweets, @ messages, direct messages, favorites etc.
As yet I haven’t used this tool so I can’t comment on how effective it is.
3. Manual Backup From The Twitter API
If you prefer to backup your data manually, it’s possible to submit queries to the Twitter API.
Backup the people you follow by entering the following url into your browser. Once you have entered your Twitter ID and password, it will provide you with an xml page with all the data from the first 100 people that you follow.
In your browser, click file, save page as, then select file type (webpage, xml only) and select a file name. You will then be able to open the xml file with Microsoft Excel.
For the second hundred people that you follow, use http://twitter.com/statuses/friends.xml?page=2 then just keep increasing the page number until you have backed up all the people that you follow.
To back up your followers, use the same procedure with this url;
And finally, to backup your tweets, use this url (change USERNAME to your Twitter username);
If you have an active Twitter account, this manual backup method can take a long time.
4. RSS Feed
If you want to automatically back up your own tweets, one of the simplest techniques is to search for your @username using http://search.twitter.com, then subscribe to your Twitter RSS feed. This will automatically pull all of your tweets, past, present and future to your feed reader where you can archive the data.
But if you know of any other Twitter backup techniques or tools, we’d love to hear from you.