The Complete Guide to Downloading Your Instagram Data with Python

Hey there!

Have you ever wanted to backup your Instagram photos? Or analyze your Instagram growth over time? Maybe you need to transfer profiles or even design creative data art projects with your images.

Whatever your reason, having a copy of your Instagram data comes in handy more often than you think!

But did you know Instagram doesn‘t directly let you export or download your images and videos in bulk?

That‘s where programming languages like Python come to the rescue! 🐍

In this step-by-step guide, you‘ll discover 2 powerful methods to download your Instagram data using Python:

  1. Using the Instaloader Python package
  2. Writing a custom Python script

I‘ll also cover important tips around ethics, privacy and Instagram‘s terms of service.

By the end, you‘ll have expert-level knowledge to access YOUR Instagram data with Python for any purpose!

Let‘s get started…

Why Should You Download Your Instagram Data?

But first – why even bother downloading your Instagram data in the first place?

Here are the top reasons why downloading your personal media and metrics can be hugely beneficial:

1. Preserve Your Memories as a Backup

We capture so many life events and special moments on Instagram every day. But content gets deleted or accounts get hacked/disabled all the time:

Instagram backup

Having a backup of your images and videos ensures those precious memories are never lost!

2. Track Your Instagram Growth Over Time

Instagram provides limited analytics on your posts and profile. Downloading data allows deeper analysis to understand your audience and engagement growth:

Metric Value
Followers 3521 → 9430
Avg Likes Per Post 943 → 2381
Avg Comments 13 → 46

3. Migrate Content Between Instagram Accounts

Want to switch to a new Instagram account? Bulk download makes transferring all your images and videos from the old account super easy.

4. Creative Projects with Instagram Data

From digital artwork to data visualizations, your Instagram history and engagement metrics can fuel all sorts interesting projects:

Data art

Let‘s check out the process to download this powerful Instagram data using Python…

Key Statistics on Why Instagram Data Matters

Before we jump into the code, it‘s important to grasp just how much of your personal data exists within Instagram:

That means Instagram likely stores gigabytes of your personal photos, comments, messages and video footage.

Yet they only let you manually download this treasure trove of data one month at a time.

What if you need more than just last 30 days? Or want to analyze long term growth?

This is why leveraging Python for Instagram data collection is so important for transparency and privacy.

Now let‘s explore two different methods for downloading Instagram data using Python…

Method #1: Using Instaloader Package (Easiest!)

Instaloader is an open-source Python package specifically built for downloading Instagram data.

With Instaloader, you can download:

  • Your posts
  • Your saved posts
  • Posts from other public profiles
  • Hashtags and location pages
  • Plus followers/followees of any account

I love Instaloader because it‘s fast, flexible, and purpose-built for Instagram compared to general web scrapers.

Let‘s see it in action…

First, install Instaloader using pip:

pip install instaloader

Once installed, various download options are available through the command line interface (CLI).

For example, to download just the profile picture of any public user:

instaloader --profile <username>

But to download private posts or friends‘ stories, you need to provide login credentials:

instaloader --login <your username>  

After logging in, you can download your own images/videos with:

instaloader <your username>

Or to download the followers of another profile:

instaloader --login <your username> @<target account>

Some more cool Instaloader examples:

  • :stories: Download stories of accounts you follow
  • :saved: Download posts you‘ve saved
  • <hashtag>: Download images for a hashtag
  • -- -shortcode: Download via Instagram shortcode

I‘ve covered even more Instaloader features in this handy 1-page cheat sheet.

Key Benefits:

  • Downloads high-quality full copies of all images/video
  • Allows bulk archive of present and past content
  • Flexible filters like locations, hashtags etc.


  • CLI tool so can be complex for beginners
  • Needs Python environment setup
  • Doesn‘t extract analytics metrics

So while Instaloader is awesome for downloading media, what if you wanted useful profile statistics and engagement data?

For that we can utilize a simple custom Python script to access Instagram‘s metadata API…

Method #2: Extracting Profile Data with a Python Script

Did you know Instagram offers a JSON API allowing access to TONS of insightful analytics like:

  • Follower and user growth metrics over time
  • Engagement rate per post
  • Impressions and reach per post
  • Saved posts and story analytics
  • Plus much more data!

By writing a Python script with the API, we can extract this valuable profile data for custom analysis.

I‘ll demonstrate with a simple script to get started:

First import the necessary libraries:

from requests import get
from json import loads  

Define the profile URL with special query parameters for JSON data:

url = ‘<your_username>/?__a=1&__d=1‘

Pass important request parameters and authentication cookies:

params = {‘__a‘: 1, ‘__d‘: 1} 

cookies = {‘sessionid‘: ‘<your session id>‘}  

Write handler functions for success and error:

def on_success(response):
  print(‘Successfully downloaded profile data!‘)

def on_error(response):
  print(‘Download error:‘, response.status_code)

Make the GET request and handle the response:

response = get(url, params, cookies=cookies)

if response.status_code == 200:

Once you run this script, your account‘s profile data will be downloaded in JSON format for easy processing and analysis! 🎉

Key Benefits:

  • Access extensive analytics not available in Instagram‘s UI
  • Collect longitudinal growth data over months/years
  • Export machine-readable structured data


  • Needs intermediate Python and API skills
  • Instagram may throttle excessive requests
  • Complex analytics require data science skills

So in summary…

  • Use Instaloader for convenient backups of your visual content
  • Leverage the JSON API and Python to extract insightful metrics and trends!

Whichever method you choose, you‘ll now have the knowledge to easily download your Insta data. 😎

But before you rush off to become an Instagram scraping guru, there are a few important ethical issues we need to cover…

Key Ethical Considerations for Downloading Instagram Data

While downloading your own Instagram data is fine, scraping other public profiles without permission raises some ethical red flags we should go over.

Respect Instagram Platform Policies

Instagram strictly prohibits unauthorized automation and excessive scraping under their Terms of Use:

"You can‘t attempt to create accounts or access or collect information in unauthorized ways. This includes creating accounts or collecting information in an automated way without our express permission."

So scraping public data needs to be done judiciously.

Consider GDPR and Privacy Rights

Under growing data privacy legislation like GDPR, individuals have a right to consent before their personal data gets processed.

Public Instagram profiles can still reveal a lot of private details about a person.

Don‘t Assume Data is Fair Game

While public Instagram profiles choose to openly share some personal data, the scale and permanence of data harvesting through scraping can make people uncomfortable.

So it‘s best practice to be transparent in your data collection methods and provide an opt-out.

By keeping these ethical principles in mind, you can leverage Instagram data in fair and responsible ways. 👍

Let‘s Summarize…

Phew, that was a lot of information!

Here are the key points we covered around downloading Instagram data with Python:

  • Use Instaloader package to conveniently download your images, videos and other Instagram media
  • Extract profile analytics like growth metrics and engagement rates using the Instagram JSON API
  • Respect TOS, privacy and consent with any public data harvesting

I hope these techniques help you reclaim your Instagram data for creative analysis and projects! ✨

As you become more skilled with Python and Instagram scraping, please also brush up on ethical practices around public data sourcing.

If any part of this guide was confusing or needs more detail, let me know in the comments! I‘m happy to clarify and expand on sections.

Now go wow your friends with expert-level Instagram data downloads using Python! 😎