To those who are new to SocialSafe – as I was around two hours ago – it appears, on the face of it, to just be a means of backing up your Facebook content in the event of an online apocalypse. All of your friend lists, photos, postings and profile information are extracted from Facebook, and safely stored on your hard drive. A rather handy, albeit boring, piece of kit. However, once you begin to scratch beneath the surface and explore this application, it becomes apparent that SocialSafe gives a whole new dimension to Facebook, when viewed in a personal ‘offline’ context.
The logistical merits of SocialSafe are obvious, in so much that if your Facebook account were to become locked, or you could no longer gain access to your profile, then you’d lose the ability to view your photos and with that, lose years of cherished memories. “But I upload all of my albums from my computer, and they’re already on my hard drive, so why do I need SocialSafe?”. A valid point, but this only stretches as far as your own albums. But what about friends’ photos that you are tagged in? Let’s be honest, none of us has the time nor the patience to sit and manually ‘right-click, Save Picture As’ for the hundreds or thousands of pictures of ourselves that we take for granted as being available 24/7 on a social networking site. SocialSafe backs up every photo that you have uploaded and/or are tagged in, thus giving you sound reassurances that should the worst happen, your favourite holiday snaps or festival memories won’t be lost in a cyber-Elysium, never to be seen again.
How many friends do you have on Facebook? 500? 1000? 1500? Bravo. Now – name them all. Tricky, n’est pas? Imagine if you will, that you had to start from scratch and rebuild your online social community. A troubling thought indeed. With SocialSafe, your friend list is imported, and available for you to scroll through at your leisure, without having to be connected to the internet. So in the event of your account being hacked, locked, deactivated for whatever reason, your task would be as simple as going down the list and clicking on each person and then adding them as a friend. Granted, this may be a moderately time consuming activity, depending on how popular you are, or how indiscriminantly you add/accept people on Facebook. However, it’s much better than the alternative where you’d be firstly trying to remember all of the names, and secondly tracking them down amongst the hundreds of millions of Facebook users.
Your status updates and any posts on your wall (both by you and your friends) are backed up chronologically in much the same way, likewise for your personal information on your profile, eg. interests, hobbies, about me etc.
So there you have it. In a nutshell, SocialSafe will back up your ‘Facebook life’ onto your own hard drive, so should the brown stuff hit the whirry thing over at Facebook Server HQ, you won’t be completely up the creek without a paddle. But wait, there’s more…
Once you’ve downloaded SocialSafe and backed up your online persona, the files don’t just sit in some WinZip or .RAR file, patiently waiting for a virus to wreak havoc through online communities, and then leap to the rescue with all of your backed up data. Whilst doing the important bit of actually extracting and archiving your Facebook data, SocialSafe is slick looking, and in some ways, as much fun as Facebook itself, all the while being offline.
Upon initial set-up, you are given a choice of background themes – I went for the ‘wooden’ layout – whereby you are essentially working from a dashboard that allows you to jump between photos, updates and your list of friends. It is tastefully put together, and easy to get to grips with.
The ‘Diary View’ option is where things start to get interesting. Looking at a calendar month for example, you will notice certain days carry the iconic blue and white ‘F-box’ seen on IE tabs that are so often frantically closed whenever the boss comes-a-knockin’. These represent each day where you have been active on Facebook in terms of photos, updates, or when you or your friends have posted on your wall. One of the first things I looked at was my birthday. Going to xx/xx/xxxx and seeing all of the kind messages that people took the time to write on that day was a nice trip down memory lane, and also makes you remember some people you may have forgotten. In my case, looking back a few years and I’m seeing names from university that I haven’t heard from in a long time, and otherwise wouldn’t have thought about speaking to if I hadn’t have rolled back the years with this nifty little piece of software. Given the nature of Facebook, it is quite a laborious process to delve too far into back in time on your profile – no more than a few months for moderate users without it becoming a bit of a hassle – but with SocialSafe, you can easily peer through the looking glass and see what you were up to on ‘this day’ in years gone by. You can also view the diary by ‘range’, in so much that you set your start and end dates, and then you will be given a News Feed style account of what you were up to in that specific week/month etc. Quite good fun for seeing what you and your friends were saying, along with looking at the photos that appeared during Freshers’ Week for example.
As Facebook, and the world of social media as a whole evolves, so will SocialSafe, as an update to incorporate Twitter looms large on the horizon. As a global society we are also investing much more of our time and endeavours into a virtual world, where it is easy to forget that the plug can be pulled without warning, leaving us dumbfounded and empty handed.
SocialSafe underwrites this risk by performing the task of safeguarding your online life admirably; backing up all of the relationships and memories that you and your friends create for yourselves. And what is more, it makes them accessible in a format that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but both easy and enjoyable to use. A definite winner.