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Twitter begins testing tweet archive downloads with select users

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It’s finally here, the feature that many of us have been waiting for: Twitter has started rolling out the option to download your full history of tweets, all the way back to your very first one.

Twitter user @Philsophy found the feature the feature, according to TheNextWeb. At the moment, however, it apparently isn’t available to all users. In case you are one of the lucky first few users to have the feature turned on for your account, you can find out by browsing to your settings page. Look for a link to “Your Twitter Archive.” There, you can click on an option download your tweets. Twitter will send you an email notifying you of your request along with a zip file of the tweets attached in HTML form. Based on blogger Navjot Singh’s experience, the HTML file opens up a calendar-like interface that displays the archived tweets, which you can search through by month, as shown in the screenshot by Singh below.

Despite the pressure on Twitter’s engineers, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo appears to have pulled through with his promise, which he reiterated last month during a speaking engagement at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. At the time, Costolo said, “Now, again, once again, I caveat this with the engineers who are actually doing the work don’t necessarily agree that they’ll be done by the end of the year, but we’ll just keep having that argument and we’ll see where we end up year end.”

Until now, users have only the option to download up to the 3,200 most-recent tweets using third party services, like TweetDownload.net.

Twitter confirmed with us that they were testing the archive downloading feature with a “small percentage” of users. But it appears that the social network is already under a heavy load. Twitter is having trouble rendering its pages, which were regularly crashing at the time of this writing.

twitter service trouble dec 16

Twitter declined to say exactly what was causing the page load problems. But Costolo warned during his speech that Twitter wasn’t built for searching and distributing archives: Searching through an archive using Twitter’s user database “would be so slow that it would slow down the rest of the real-time distribution of things,” he said. And it looks like this is exactly what was happening.

If the site in fact has been slowed down due to testing the archive download feature among just a few users, this would likely mean that the Twitter Archive functionality won’t be ready for prime time before the New Year rolls around.