A Frankenblog Story; “Resurrecting a Clobbered Blog” (& How to Avoid Catastrophe)

Once in a while, I really outsmart myself, and end up shooting myself in the foot.

Not only is this a story of blog safety, security and management……

…..but one of how “multitasking” and the resulting lack of focus can really produce undesired effects,

…AND how you can be sure to avoid the same ones!

As it is now in its 4th year, my blog has enjoyed an increase in traffic, subscribers and followers, and I’ve not had to put quite as much work into it as I had in the past.

In other words, it’s become a leverage point, where I continue to get traffic and leads on posts I wrote last month, last year, the year before that, and the year before that.

Nice! :)

I’ve always taught people all that I’ve learned about blog security, backups and management that I think is relevant and crucial..

But not only wasn’t I diligent enough in following my own advice, I was careless (even as I thought I was being careFUL).

As such, the confluence of events that occurred last week led to the complete and total destruction of four years of work.

Yep, the blog was GONE.

“404 Not Found”!

And possibly for good as it turns out…..

This was even TWO DAYS after I had clobbered it, without even realizing or DOUBLE CHECKING my work!

I knew immediately when it must have happened.

But not quite HOW….. HOW could it?

I was so careful!

It HAD to be a system error of some kind!

…. oh no…. in fact, it was entirely my fault, and even very likely irrevocable…

But after a couple of calls to GoDaddy support (thank GOODNESS they’re as great as they are), I knew I had done it to myself, no software to blame.

How to Kill a Blog (Possibly for Good)

Deleting the system files will always do it!

How the heck did I do that?

Well, I had decided to do some long overdue ‘housecleaning’ in my hosting account ….

I had some unused blogs I decided it was time to be rid of, and so made myself a list to keep things organized…

So each URL was to have both an ‘Uninstall’ of the WordPress Application from GoDaddy’s control panel, and then a removal of the domain from the hosting account (making room for more current activities :).

Simple, right?

…. Should have been….

But as time is always overwhelmingly short for me, I was taking care of some correspondence in between each step as I had to wait for one to go to the next.

Did you get that?

That was my first mistake

NOT FOCUSING on the task at hand!

We may THINK we can multitask, but in fact, shifting concentration to and fro causes less attention on any of the tasks at hand, and more opportunity for error.

So in being sooooo productive, I somehow managed to do an UNINSTALL of WORDPRESS on THIS BLOG!

Ooops!

Well no worries right? Just restore it from one of my many back up files!

Nope… Here was my second mistake…

Even though I am a proponent of backing up your entire site, especially the database files in both XML and SQL forms (the former from the Tools->Export command in your WordPress Dashboard, and the latter from the WP-DB-backup plugin which I DO HAVE)….

I didn’t have a backup file anywhere in sight!

How was that possible?!?!?!

All of my blogs use the WP-DB-backup plugin, all set for weekly automatic backups….

And due to my diligence in keeping my inbox clean, all backups go to my “Wordpress backups” folder in gmail.

Ahh… so I didn’t do any periodic CHECKING to VERIFY that I was getting those backup files!

And for some reason I was not.

It could be that gmail was not delivering the emails, since this blog is rather large and the backup files are over 1M, but I’m not sure…

… all I know is I can do a manual download, but I wasn’t doing that either.

So for a moment I thought, that’s it. It’s done for…..

Starting over may not be all bad, but losing four years of work?

Ouch!

So speaking with GoDaddy I found that they DO keep backups, even if possibly out of date, and they do offer a restoral service….

(…..for the pricey fee of $150, which I (choke) happily paid…. :(

At least it’s back… all up today, AFTER SIX DAYS DOWN!

…. Yes, It’s ALIVE!!!!

And you can believe, I now have ALL RECENT BACKUP FILES IN HAND!

So let this be a lesson!

How to Avoid Losing Your Blog

  1. Download your entire wp-content folder, at least frequently enough considering your rate of theme settings, widgets, media and such ( capture forms, headers and the like).
  2. Export your XML backup from the WordPress dashboard Tools (this is a backup to the SQL method)
  3. Find some way (there are many) to export and save your SQL database REGULARLY (WP-DB-backup plugin or other, or  PHPMyadmin Export), …..and VERIFY this is happening!

But doing these SIMPLE things will save you headache, stress, time and money…..

It doesn’t have to be personal user error that can destroys it… there are many dangers (including hackers which can be prevented by using the critical Bullet Proof Security plugin!)

How to Restore Your Blog; Disaster Recovery

In my case, it took both a restoral of the WordPress files in my hosting account as well as the database files

Thankfully, GoDaddy kept a snapshot of files in my hosting account, which could be used to restore the WordPress directory to a point before my big boo boo.

Using the Restore tool in the FTP file manager in the GoDaddy dashboard, I was able to recover those files, repairing my wp-content folder (which I’d never taken the care to download to my computer).

If I had a copy of my wp_content folder, I could have uploaded it (your best bet if the restore function isn’t available with your hosting account).

Whew! Now, step 2.. recovering the SQL file  that I didn’t have!

Luckily, GoDaddy also keeps previous copies of a database from their servers too (though they warned me possibly weeks old, but I didn’t care, my blog could be saved).

Had I had some less reputable hosting company I’m not sure whether this would have been an option!

So always have one you can rely on help with such matters. HostGator is one with a stellar reputation as well (there are of course others but GoDaddy and HostGator seem to be the most popular)

  1. Your backup file is obtained by following step 3 above, usually provided in a .gz file which unzips on execution to reveal your .sql file (the one you’ll restore).
  2. If you HAVE an backup (SQL) file, then all you need do is upload it to your FTP file space (you should have one as part of your hosting dashboard but can also use an FTP client such as Filezilla). Place it in the _db_backups folder that should be in your main directory (where you find your wp_admin and wp_content directories).
  3. Then from your MyPHPadmin control panel, find your blog’s SQL database and do a restore using that file.

There are many articles written on this topic, as ;people move and restore blogs frequently.

You just would rather be prepared, trust me!

Don’t get careless when it comes to your blog, and take the time to protect it; and be prepared to repair your blog!

6 Responses to “A Frankenblog Story; “Resurrecting a Clobbered Blog” (& How to Avoid Catastrophe)”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Hi Vicki,

    You always have so much value to offer! I really wish this hadn’t be a real life story though…
    Thank you for the graphic reminder to always backup…

    I lost my blog one time about a year ago, thought I was going to have a heart attack! Thank GOD for Hostgator’s auto backup, which they do once a week.

    Did GoDaddy really charge $150 to restore your blog? Hostgator only charged me $15.00. Maybe it’s time to look at a different hosting service?

    Glad you’re back and I hope all is well!

    Richard

    • Vicki says:

      No kidding Richard! That was highway robbery as I know when you have the database on site it’s a few minutes to restore it (… a couple of clicks then wait)… but alas, my package is paid for another year… oh well, at least it’s all in one piece, and everything else is going well so I can’t really complain!

      Tough lesson though, eh? You’re right, a good reminder!

      Thanks for stopping by, nice to see a friend after such a week!
      All the best,
      Vicki

  2. Amy Hagerup says:

    I’m so sorry about this, Vicki. Some of your instructions about the SQL file are greek to me. :( I do have a regular back up going on thru a plug in and I have checked that it IS working. But I”m not sure abou tthe other stuff. I’ll try that security plug in too. You are such a great resouce. By the way, whenever I post in TribePro, no one syndicated my content. I was wondering if the next time you go in, if you would please syndicate the post I just put in? Thanks so much.

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Amy! Thanks for your feedback – I know that the SQL stuff is geek/greek to a lot of people but you should know that when you do a backup of your blog, the backup file should actually contain the database file which will always end in .sql — that is the file that will have to be imported when moving or restoring a file.

      As for TribePro, you really have to build relationships with people there but more importantly, if you are a free member, and that should be connections with other free members. As a community, free members who syndicate for one another do so because they have built relationships. When people are Plus or Pro members, they are counting on the auto-syndication to work for them and reciprocate auto-syndicating for people who auto-syndicate for them. I looked you up and clicked share but I must be out of onlyWire credits right now as nothing came up to select on the share button! Anyway I have a lot of training for this in my tribe’s newsletter http://BestProMarketers.TribePro.com that also may help.

      As always thank you for stopping by, great to see you!
      Vicki

  3. Kevin says:

    Wow, that could have been such a disaster. Good thing GoDaddy had some backup files for a restore. Good reminder to to consistent back ups. Thanks for the reminder.

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