How to completely delete Instagram without losing all of your photos

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Over the weekend, my colleague Christina Farr published a story about her experience taking a break from Instagram and Facebook. Christina said she felt “lighter and happier” after she quit Instagram and Facebook for four weeks.

If you think you need to take a similar break from social networking, then I have a guide for you.

I’ve already talked about how to delete your Facebook account. Today, I’ll walk you through how to get rid of Instagram, too. This isn’t the same as simply uninstalling it from your phone, which is what Christina did. I’m talking about getting rid of Instagram altogether — without losing all your photos in the process.

Let’s go.

You might want a copy of everything you’ve ever uploaded to Instagram before you decide to ditch the service for good.

There’s an easy way to download a complete copy of your photos, and even a copy of all of the comments you’ve posted. It takes up to 48 hours to get the file from Instagram, so be sure you have everything before you proceed to deleting. To download your Instagram photos:

  • Open Instagram on your phone.
  • Select the profile icon on the bottom-right of the app.
  • Tap the menu button on the top-right of the app.
  • Choose “Settings” on the bottom.
  • Scroll down and select “Data download.”
  • Tap “Request Download.”

You’ll get an email from Instagram when the download is done, with a link to a file containing all your data. Again, it can take up to 48 hours, so you’ll need to be patient.

Instagram gives you two options if you want to take a break from the service: you can temporarily disable your account or completely delete it.

Temporarily disabling your account hides your profile, photos and comments but does not delete them. Follow these steps:

  • Visit Instagram.com from a computer web browser (not the app.)
  • Tap the profile icon on the top-right of the page.
  • Choose “Edit Profile.”
  • Select the link that says “Temporarily disable my account.”
  • Choose why you’re deciding to deactivate Instagram.
  • Enter your password.
  • Select the option to temporarily deactivate Instagram.

That simply deactivates your account. If you want to remove everything permanently from Instagram, move on to the next step.

If you want to go hardcore and completely wipe out your Instagram account, you can do that too.

Follow these steps:

  • Visit Instagram’s Account Deletion page.
  • Log-in to the site.
  • Choose why you’re deleting your Instagram account.
  • Enter in your password to confirm your intentions.
  • Select the option to “Permanently delete” your account at the bottom of the page.

By the way, you don’t need to delete your entire Facebook account, even if it’s the login that you use to access Instagram.

That’s it. Now you’ve completely removed your Instagram account and all of your comments and photos are deleted. Just keep in mind that, should you wish to return, you won’t be able to pick the same username. So if you’re still on the fence about quitting, consider following the option to temporarily suspend your Instagram account above.

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