Blog Backups

I have managed to restore my WordPress blog by taking advantage of search engine caches. This is a good opportunity to review the lessons learned during an unexpected hosting company snafu.

The first question to ask is why I did not have the MySQL database backed up? It is not as if I never backed up my blog. I did have a few back ups from last year. WordPress has a built-in backup utility that allows you to download or email a backup file but this isn't very practical if the file is too large and it is not an automated process. As a matter of fact, this backup utility does not appear to be working at all now that I moved my site. My other option to back up the database was phpMyAdmin. This is what I used but it can be a bit tricky. One of my backups was just some header information with no real data in the file. I need to find a fully automated way of scheduling the MySQL back ups to my PC. I cannot rely on the hosting company to maintain back ups and restore data for free. My new hosting company does not provide any means of managing the database through their control panel but they did recommend a program, SQLyog MySQL GUI, which includes a migration toolkit to get external data at scheduled intervals. That is exactly what I need! I've already used it to back up my database after I restored my posts.

Fortunately, I did have a form of backup that has often saved my bacon. Every smart Internet user knows that you can retrieve deleted web pages from the search engine caches. Maybe you can benefit from the procedure I used to recover my blog posts. First I tried the famous Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine. This was not as useful as you might think because there is a 6 month delay in their archiving of material. I found that Google Advanced Search and Live Search were the most useful for finding my old blog entries. You'll want to use the special site: search command to limit the results to your domain name and find cached pages of your blog. I also found a blog catalog site that allowed me to search based on my tags: I had to copy and paste the text of my old blog entries and then post date the entry. It was quite a tedious chore. By the way, if for some reason you do not want your blog posts to be archived or cached you need to use two meta tags:

<meta http-equiv="cache-control" content="no-cache">
<meta name="robots" content="noarchive">

There are many places to blog on the Internet. Have you investigated the options available to back up your work on these sites? does provide the option to export your content. It is hidden under Global Settings / Syndication Settings / BlogML Export. BlogML is an open XML format for blog content. There is a WordPress BlogML Export tool which you could use to migrate your WordPress blog to Community Server which is what uses. Recently LiveVideo expanded their web site to include text blogs. This makes for a very interesting social networking site because it combines text blogging with vlogging and social broadcasting. However I've noticed that you cannot back up or export your text blog. If they suspend or delete your account you would lose your blog posts.

Vloggers also have a lot of problems with losing their user generated content. YouTube frequently suspends or deletes an account because people file false DMCAs against the vloggers they hate. I'm working on a program that will at least allow me to save my video favorites list to my own database using the Google GData API for YouTube. I think there is a lot of opportunity to create tools for archiving user generated content on social networking sites.



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