How to Delete Your Online Existence, But Save All Your Data 

By David Nield on at

Sick of Snapchat? Tired of Twitter? Fed up with Facebook? This is a great time to completely eradicate yourself from social media. All of these online services let you scrub out your accounts if you want a cleaner, leaner life online. Even better, plenty of them let you export your data for safekeeping before you do. So you can always remember that time The Rock answered your desperate tweets or your roommate plastered your Facebook wall with photos of your dog.

Here’s how you can delete, and back up, accounts from most major social media services.


Remember when Facebook was fun? It was around 2008. In any case, if you’ve had enough of advertisements and badly thought-out politics, you don’t have to stick around — the option to sort-of delete your Facebook can be found on the settings page on the web. Click Security, then Edit next to Deactivate your account, then click the link that appears.

That deactivates your account — it’s not actually gone and you can jump back in to the social maelstrom at any time. If you do want to get rid of your account permanently, with no chance of coming back, then you actually need to head to this page and click Delete my account. You get a short grace period during which you can change your mind, then everything is scheduled to be wiped within 90 days.

Facebook makes it very easy to get a copy of all your social networking activity before you go though. Head to the online settings page, then click General and Download a copy of your Facebook data (a password prompt appears to make sure you really are who you say you are). You get posts, photos, chat conversations and more, all in a handy HTML format you can view in your browser.


Goodbye Google! If you’ve decided the time is right to sever all connections with Mountain View, you need to go to your account page on the web then click Delete your account or services. The next option lets you delete some parts of your Google account separately — like your Gmail or YouTube accounts — or get rid of everything at once. As you might expect, you need to enter your password along the way.

If you choose to delete everything, you’ll be given a list of all the stuff that’s going to be wiped—from images in Google Photos to playlists in Google Play Music — and you can then click Delete account to confirm your choice. On each of these screens, you’ll also see a link to download your data.

Those data dump tools can also be accessed from the main account page by clicking Personal info & privacy then scrolling down to Download your data and selecting Create archive. The next screen lets you select which bits of data you want saving (Google Calendar appointments? Blogger posts?) and you can then choose a file archive type and delivery method (it can even be saved straight to your Google Drive if you decide to keep that one bit of Google).


If you’ve had just about as much of Twitter as you can take, quitting the service is fairly straightforward. To get your data out before you get out, go to Twitter settings in your web browser, click Account and then Request your archive. When it’s ready to download, you’ll get an email alert — all your tweets are saved in a nicely formatted HTML archive so you can relive the good tweeting times.

Still keen on leaving? Click Deactivate my account then confirm your choice on the next screen—this actually means delete, not just deactivate, but you do get a grace period of 30 days during which you can log back into your account and carry on as normal. If you’re part of Twitter royalty and verified, you get 12 whole months to change your mind.


To delete Instagram you need to head this page. Tell Instagram why you’re going (“it’s not you, it’s me” maybe), enter your password, then click Permanently delete my account. If that’s too much, you can temporarily disable your account by opening up your profile settings from the web then clicking Temporarily disable my account. There’s no time limit to this, so you can pick up again whenever you like.

As for getting your photos and videos out of Instagram, there’s no easy, integrated “export all” option you can make use of. You either need to have been saving your Instagrams to your phone all along (it’s the Save Original Photos switch in settings) or trust your account data to a third-party service like Instaport.


By its very nature, Snapchat doesn’t leave much of a digital trail, though the app has become more inclined towards permanence in recent years. You can save your photos and videos to your phone (via Memories in the app settings), but you need to do this in advance – you can’t bring your old snaps back.

The option to delete your account isn’t actually available in the app, so you need to head to in a web browser, log in, and then click Delete my account. Snapchat will check that you really, really want to go, and then you’re done. If you change your mind, you’ve got 30 days to reactivate it.


If Yahoo’s woes have convinced you that enough is enough as far as the once-great internet service goes, then you need to log into your account inside a web browser and then visit this special page — you’ll be warned about the consequences of deleting your account (which... er... deletes all your data), then you need to click Terminate this Account to confirm.

Unfortunately there’s no quick and easy way to get all of your data out of Yahoo, but we’re talking primarily emails here, which can be accessed via IMAP. If you plug the Yahoo Mail settings into your email client of choice, whether Gmail or Outlook, you can get all of your messages moved out and saved before pulling the plug on Yahoo.