One of the things I like to do every now and then—especially around this time of year—is to start fresh. I’ll think about all the services I’ve signed up for and don’t actually use. Going through and deleting them helps me feel better about my digital sprawl, and it’s a practice I recommend everyone try regularly.
Consumer Reports recently published a great guide that shows you the basic steps for deleting your accounts across 15 different services. While the process isn’t usually that difficult, it can be annoying to have to root through a bunch of settings menus and hyperlinks to figure out how to remove yourself from a service. I’ve bookmarked the site’s series of steps, and I recommend you do the same—with one caveat.
While Consumer Reports’ list is helpful, it leaves out one critical aspect of the account-deletion process that you’ll probably want to know: How to save your data from a site before deleting your account. This won’t matter in some cases—if you’re nuking a parody Twitter account, for example. If you’re looking to delete something more substantial, like an older Blogger account, you probably don’t want those memories to disappear into the digital ether.
Backing up your data: On your blog’s primary page, click on the Settings icon, and then click on “Other.” Click on the “Back Up Content” button to begin creating your .XML archive.
Deleting your data: On that same page where you backed up your blog, click on the “Delete blog” link to wave goodbye to your blog forever.
Backing up your data: Click on the drop-down arrow in Facebook’s upper-right corner and select “Settings.” Click on “Your Facebook information,” and then click on the “Download Your Information” link to begin the process. You’ll be able to customize what data you want to save, as well as the quality of any included media files—if you’re worried about space.
Deleting your data: On that same “Your Facebook information” page, click on “Delete Your Account and Information” to start the process.
Backing up your data: You can grab albums’ worth of photos via the little download icon you’re given whenever you open up one of your albums. Otherwise, to download everything in your Flickr account, visit your Account Settings page and select the option to “Request My Flickr Data” to begin the process.
Deleting your data: In the Account Settings page, simply click on the “Delete your Flickr account” option to get started.
Backing up your data: There isn’t an easy way to download a list of everywhere you’ve visited (and when). Some found success years ago pulling this information via the Foursquare API, but that’s a lot of work for a bunch of data that you probably won’t use for anything other than the novelty of having it.
Deleting your data: Visit your account’s Settings page and click on the “Privacy Settings” tab. Scroll down a bit and click on the “delete your account” link to start the process.
Backing up your data: You have until April to grab your Google data before the company kills the service completely. Just visit Google’s “Download Your Data” page to get started.
Deleting your data: This one’s easy. Visit this page, and you’ll be able to delete your Google profile with just a few clicks.
Backing up your data: The service’s relatively new “Download your data” tool is easy to use. On the web, click on the icon that looks like a person to go to your Instagram profile. Then, click on the gear icon and select “Privacy & Security.” Scroll down to the “Data Download” section and click on the “Request download” option to get started.
Deleting your data: Instagram has a handy “Delete your account” page for doing exactly that.
Backing up your data: Visit your Settings & Privacy page, and then scroll down to the “How LinkedIn uses your data” section. Click on the “Download your data” option to get started.
Deleting your data: Visit the “Account” section of your “Settings & Privacy” page, scroll to the bottom, and click on “Closing your LinkedIn account.”
Backing up your data: You can use Livejournal’s export tool to download one month’s worth of posts at a time—a terrible option—or you can use one of the many other third-party apps to download all of your journal’s contents at once.
Deleting your data: Pull up your Account Status page and make sure the right Livejournal is selected—if not, pick what you plan to delete from the drop-down menu and click “Switch.” From there, click on the “Account” tab, click on the “Change” link in the “Status” field, pick whether you want to delete comments and community posts you’ve previously made, click on the drop-down “Status” menu and select “Deleted,” and then click the “Submit” button.
Backing up your data: Myspace not-so-helpfully notes that you can download individual Myspace images by right-clicking on them and saving them to your desktop or laptop—much like you would on any other website. The service does have a tool for downloading any videos or music you’ve uploaded, but that’s it.
Deleting your data: All you have to do is visit your Settings page and select the “Delete account” option. It’s as easy as that.
Backing up your data: Pinterest doesn’t have a tool for downloading your data, unfortunately. You’ll have to use a third-party app like Pin4Ever or PinCrawl instead.
Deleting your data: Click on the triple-dot icon in the upper-right corner on Pinterest’s home page, and then select “Edit settings.” Scroll down a bit and click on “Deactivate Account” to start the process, which lets you either deactivate your account (giving you the option to come back to it later) or close it permanently.
Backing up your data: Visit your “Manage My Account” page and select “My Data” to request an archive of much of what Snapchat knows about you.
Deleting your data: From that same “Manage My Account” page, click on the “Delete my account” option.
Backing up your data: Visit your “Account Settings” page, click on your blog on the right sidebar, and scroll to the bottom until you see the “Export” button.
Deleting your data: Click on the “Delete account” button right below the “Export” button once you’re ready to say goodbye to Tumblr for good.
Backing up your data: Visit your “Account” page and scroll down a bit until you see the “Request your archive” button. Click on that.
Deleting your data: Click the “Deactivate your account” link below the “Request your archive” button to begin the process. You’ll have 30 days to change your mind.
Backing up your data: You can request a copy of your Whatsapp data via the app’s Settings menu. However, this won’t include your Whatsapp messages. For those, you’ll need to go the Chats section of your Settings menu, which should give you the option to back up your conversations.
Deleting your data: You’ll find the option to delete your WhatsApp account within the app’s Settings menu, under the “Account” section.
Backing up your data: Visit Google’s handy Takeout page to grab your YouTube data—and data from any other Google services you might also want to download.
Deleting your data: Under YouTube’s “Advanced settings,” you’ll find the “Delete channel” button at the very bottom of the page. This won’t delete your Google account, just your YouTube channel.