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Preserve Your Personal Heritage: Social Media Photo Preservation

General Information


It is important to keep future use in mind when uploading photos to Facebook, Instagram or another social media site. Many social media sites adjust image quality to fit their specifications and often times that reduces the quality of the photos, so if you upload an image, be sure to upload the highest quality possible, keep the original on your computer (and maintain this file), or print a copy.

By uploading a high quality image (directions to the right), you will be able to retrieve a high quality image, if needed.

Downloading/Capturing Images


Identify where your photos are located:

  • –Facebook?
  • –Instagram?
  • –Flickr?
  • –Twitter?
  • Tumblr or blog?

Identify which images are most important to you:

  • You can pick as many or as few as you like
  • You are not limited to just your photos

Retreive images - depending on what type of a device you are using, there are several ways to retrieve, capture or download images:

  • Screenshot
  • Drag to desktop
  • Copy and paste
  • Print
™Organize your images/Metadata
  • –Assign descriptive file names to individual photos
  • –Tag photos with names of people and descriptive subjects
  • –Create a directory/folder on your computer to put your photos

Store your images for preservation

  • Preserve your photographs on at least two different media types (i.e. Computer hard drive, CD, flash drive…)
  • Store these copies in two different places
  • Create a printed photo inventory
  • Check your photos at least once a year to make sure you can read them
  • Create new media copies every 5 years or as necessary to prevent data loss

When Uploading to Facebook

As Facebook states on their website:

How can I make sure that my photos display in the highest possible quality?

We automatically take care of resizing and formatting your photos for you. If you'd like to use more advanced techniques to make your photos look better, try these tips:

  • Resize your photo before you upload it. These are the sizes we support:
    Regular photos 720 px, 960 px, 2048 px
    Cover photos 851 px by 315 px

    If you use a 2048 px photo, make sure to select the High Quality option when you upload it.

    To avoid compression when you upload your cover photo, make sure the file size is under 100 KB.

  • Save your image as a JPEG with an sRGB color profile.

"How can I make sure that my photos display in the highest possible quality?" Facebook. Web. 04/09/2014<>.

When Uploading to Instagram

High-resolution versions of your Instagram photos are saved to your phone after you upload the photo to Instagram, and you're the only one who has access to them. You have to turn on the Save Original Photos setting in your Account Settings to make sure filtered photos save to your phone.

We'll always save images in the highest resolution size possible. The maximum resolution on both Android and iOS is 2048x2048, but your phone’s resolution capabilities may be lower than that.


Image resolution capabilities are different for each phone.

Apple (iOS)

Photo resolution taken with the Instagram camera (not the iPhone Camera app) and saved to your phone are:

  • 2048x2048 on the iPhone 4s and up
  • 1936x1936 on the iPhone 4
  • 1536x1536 on the iPhone 3GS

Keep in mind that photos imported from iOS (not taken with the Instagram camera) and then uploaded to Instagram will save at a much lower resolution (612x612). Apple has recently updated their API to allow high resolution importing to apps, but we don't know when this feature will be available.

"How do I save high-resolutions of my filtered photos?" Instagram. Web. 04/09/2014<>.

Downloading photos from Facebook

As stated on their website:

How do I save a photo to my phone or computer?

To save a photo:

  1. Click on the photo
  2. Hover over the photo and click Options
  3. Click Download

"How do I save a photo to my phone or computer?" Facebook. Web. 04/09/2014<>.

Downloading Photos from Instgram

To save photos to your camera roll:
  1. Go to your profile
  2. Tap in the top-right
  3. Slide the Save Original Photos setting on

When you take a photo on your Android using Instagram, it's added to the album "Camera shots" in your photo gallery. When you upload a photo to Instagram, that photo is also added to your gallery in the album "Instagram."

Keep in mind that people using Instagram on Android may see a delay in photos appearing in their phone’s Instagram photo album.

"How do I save Instagram photos to my camera roll (Apple iOS)?" Instagram. Web. 04/09/2014<>.

"How do I save Instagram photos to my Android?" Instagram. Web. 04/09/2014<>.