May 14, 2011

Lesson Learned: Back up Your Blogs!

With the big Blogger Fail that began Thursday May 12 around noon and semi-ended on Friday May 13 after lunch, I realized that the panic I was feeling was shared by thousands of other bloggers.

For those who don't blog or were unaware of what was going on, many bloggers, myself included, use blogspot.com as the platform for their blogs. Blogspot.com is Blogger which is run by Google. When Blogger went down, we could not log into our blogs. We could see the blogs (sometimes) but all posts made after May 11th were deleted. That included drafts and those written and scheduled for posting at future dates. For those interested you can read Blogger Buzz's "Blogger is Back"

As the hours went by, I bemoaned the fact that I had ignored the first rule of websites - always have a backup. On a "normal" website a webmaster would create a file on her computer and then upload it to a remote server. That's the webmaster's failsafe - one copy on her computer and one copy online plus with any luck, an archived version in the WayBack Archives. The careful webmaster will also make monthly or weekly backups of what is on her computer, thus ensuring a third copy of files that create her website. But blogs are another story.

Blogs aren't easy to backup. Most of us write our blog posts directly in blogger so we don't have a copy on our computers. It's not easy to save copies once the posts are published. And so, like many, I simply set aside what I know is good practice and I trusted in the power of Google to protect my blogs. I found out during the Blogger Fail that the WayBack Archives doesn't have my blog archived - ouch!

Since Blogger came back online, I've noticed problems. Yes, my blog posts written after May 11th that were previously removed, were restored. But there are hidden characters in the labels (tags) of the drafts and scheduled posts. Not a big deal, but I had to go in and remove those characters which display as strange images. My drafts and scheduled posts were duplicated - several times. In some cases I had six of each one. Still not a big deal, I simply deleted all but one. Lastly, posts previously posted on May 11 and 12 did not re-post, they were set to "scheduled". So I had to republish them.

Lastly some of my readers wrote to me yesterday in email to say they could not post comments. I'm not sure what is happening with that feature but will look into it. For the most part, the glitches once Blogger returned were not a huge deal but it points out to me that there may still be problems lurking.

The huge deal is me being remiss. No back up for the 1,235 posts I've written since February 2003 - that's crazy on my part! So yesterday I began creating backups. I'm really curious what steps other bloggers are taking to create backups. I am creating mine using Blog2Print.

I've talked about Blog2Print before. Basically it will take whatever portions of your blog you want - the entire blog, certain dates, specific labels - you set it up as you wish. For $7.95 you can create a digital copy in PDF format and download it to your computer. The catch for me is that it has a maximum size of 500 pages. My blog is almost 2,000 pages. It's been challenging to guess at what start and end dates I need to use in order to create a book 500 pages or less!

I discovered that you can create a book that is larger than 500 pages, then edit sections out, such as the contents pages. But that doesn't work for me as removing 33 pages of contents in my first book didn't get me under 500 pages. So it's a labourious and somewhat frustrating process and so far I have only saved blog posts from Jan 1, 2010 to May 11, 2011. That's Book One, all 453 pages!

My second step I've taken is to create all my blog posts using Evernote or Springpad. I do that once in awhile but now I'm determined to follow that practice faithfully. It won't be easy, in fact I've already strayed from my commitment by writing this post directly in blogger! Old habits die hard. I can easily copy this post and save it in Evernote in my Blog Posts folder so that oversight on my part is solved.

Bloggers let's help each other. What are your practices for ensuring you have backups of your blog or your individual blog posts? 

13 comments:

Mary said...

I hadn't noticed that my 'saved, future, draft blogs' have been deleted...will check on that after I finish this. I have lost A LOT of pictures and it's not just this year but last year too. Some stayed, some gone. It's weird. I was going to spend the day fixing that problem but something else has come up and it may have to wait a week :(

I wonder if wordpress ever has this problem...do they have a server all is kept on?

Carol said...

Reflections has the same issues, and I wrote about it as well, there are about 9 comments from readers there at the moment,

http://www.reflectionsfromthefence.com/2011/05/so-what-did-you-do-during-blogger-crash.html

I am doing another version of back ups, I am opening one post at a time, copying the entire post via dragging the mouse, and pasting into Word. I am no fan of Word, but in this case it works quite well. I then save the post as a document. Later I can go in and actually print the document to PDF if I desire, but that takes a few minutes per post to edit.

I have 2009 backed up, my first year, 299 posts. I did several months last night, once I got the method down, it was boring, click, drag, click, save, etc, etc etc.

Best way, not necessarily, just my way.

Rosemary said...

I use Evernote as at least a rough draft. I'm also still using Evernote 2.0 which is local only so everything is local and then backed up to my online service.

GrannyPam said...

I use self-hosted Wordpress. I write most posts using Blogdesk, [http://www.blogdesk.org/en/index.htm] which uploads them via FTP and keeps a local copy.

I also have a plugin which backs up my database daily and e-mails it to me. I have a special e-mail account where my back-ups are e-mailed, since I need them only in case of disaster.

It is important to know that something can go wrong with any hosting service, and that we need backups of everything.


I am interested in making certain posts into pdf documents, it would nice to have those for people interested in any aspect of my blog. I will be watching for ideas!

Kristin said...

I just got an evernote acct and i am backing up my blogs as i type. thanks for this post, i've been procrastinating and the past two days were a wake up call.

Susan (Nolichucky Roots) said...

My back up system is somewhat primitive - and only covers what has been published. I use Tabbloid. It collects my posts and emails me a pdf of whatever has appeared once a week. It wouldn't be that useful for trying to restore something, but works for archiving the posts. Like everyone else, I'm going to have to come up with a system for backing up posts as I write them.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Susan, what a "DUH!" moment for me! I completely forgot that I have Blogger set to email me a copy of each of my blog posts! I only set this up a couple of months ago but your post reminded me

So I can easily send those individual posts to dropbox or another cloud storage system. Thanks for jogging my memory!

Brett Payne said...

I had three articles posted this week on Blogger disappear, as well as a few comments. Luckily earlier draft versions were saved within blogger, so I didn't need to do too much reconstruction. However, this event reminds that I need to compile my articles off-line more often than I do. I use Live Writer, which I find simple and easy to use. I'm also reminded that I need to update the imports of articles and comments to my mirror-blog at wordpress, which I hadn't done since last year. Fortunately, it's a quick painless process.

Lorine said...

Great tips and suggestions everyone!

I set up TABBLOI (thanks Susan) because most of the suggestions required Windows. I do have a Windows computer (my main one) but I compose my blogs on my MacBookAir.

I liked some of the Windows programs suggested so am going to try them out on my main computer at some point.

Keep the ideas coming! I know there are many who will benefit from learning what different bloggers use

Susan Petersen said...

A few suggestions: print each blog post to a PDF file; subscribe to your own blog via email - every blog post will be sent via email daily; use Backupify - it will backup your blog, although it saves everything in html code.

Lynn Palermo said...

I create each post offline in Word and then copy and paste into blogger.(well 99% of the time) I keep them filed in My Documents by their topic. Each week I back up my computer to an external memory. I will however be watching to see what other great ideas are out there. Oh, and on Wednesday was the 1% day that I wrote the post in blogger. It has since been since restored.

Nancy said...

When I began my blog in Feb-2011, the first thing I noticed was the blogger editor required me to be on-line when writing (and it was not a good editor!). This was unacceptable since I planned on writing some blog entires while away from home and Internet connections. I settled on Microsoft Live Writer for all my blogging. I have it set to automatically save a local copy so I don't have to worry about the problems you folks had this week. You can add your photos etc. right in Live Writer. I generally don't use MS products but after exhaustive search for a blog editor it was the only one that made sense.

Linda Gartz said...

I've learned several alternative ideas here. Thanks for starting a discussion.
As a new blogger I lost a post I had literally spent hours creating. Determined "never again." I compose all my posts in Pages (MAC word-processing). Then I copy and paste into Blogger into the "HTML" section (Not "compose" -- or it adds weird html). I add my pix. I keep all pix in a folder "Blog photos" on my desktop. In that folder I have sub-folders for each post. So I don't have to find them again in I-photo. After composing the whole post, I copy (Cmd A to highlight; then cmd C to copy) and paste (cmd V) into a Pages file. It's from the edit version, but at least I have all my content. Probably not idea for recreating later so I'm going to try some of the ideas I learned here. Having the content is 90% of it.