As you’ve probably heard, my web host had a catastrophic failure on one of their servers yesterday. And yes, it happened to be the very server SuccessCREEations was on.

Then to compound the problem my host found that they had some bad CD-Rs in their backup storage so when they got things up and running they had to revert back to their last good backup which in my case was last Wednesday, a full five days back.

Ouch!

On my end, I normally do a manual backup on the weekends. Unfortunately this past weekend I worked what for me is about a normal month’s worth of overtime in 2-1/2 days. I snagged my sleep in 2 or 3 hour blocks when I could. I didn’t do my normal backup.

There are some lessons here. The first is

Tech Stuff Breaks

That may sound simplistic, one of those “Duh!” statements.

But how many of us truck along acting like things are never going to go wrong?

And often when it does go wrong there is a convergence of compounding issues that make up the final problem.

When I was flying in the Navy they’d call it the mishap chain of events. When an airplane crashes it rarely has a simple, single source cause. In almost ever single case there are several factors that contribute to the crash.

Usually things like weather, maintenance practices, pilot decision making all factor in. Sometimes it can seem like a whole series of events has to take place before there is a catastrophe. And at any point along that chain of events someone, most often one of the pilots, can step in and break that chain simply by taking a different course of action.

In the case of the blog here we had at least three bad things converge to make for a significant loss of data. And I could have made some other choices that would have reduced the data loss down to a few hours…

Save Early and Save Often

It’s a mantra I learned back in the days of the 5-1/4″ floppy disks (remember those?). Back then data storage was much less reliable. Window may still seize up more than Apples do, but it was all much worse back then.

It didn’t take too many times of loosing hours of work to learn to save along the way.

Well it doesn’t happen as often any more. But that just might mean that on those rare cases when it does you will loose much more than a few hours work.

Loosing 5 days of data is enough to make you want to cry. I’m still a little shell shocked.

The odds are if you haven’t had a catastrophic failure yet, you probably will sometime in the future. Remember, tech stuff brakes. If you save early and save often you will loose far less data and hard work when it happens.

What Can You Do?

How can you protect yourself?

WordPress.org has a whole section of their Codex devoted to WordPress Backups. Rest assured I will be getting very familiar with what is there in the next few days.

I use the WordPress Database Backup plugin for my manual backups. With just a few mouse clicks it will either download a complete backup of your blog database to your computer, or email it to whatever address you tell it to. It is simple and effective.

But it’s manual. And I was just reminded of the inherent problems with that. 🙄

One way to automate the process is to set up something on your server called a cron job. From what little I’ve managed to glean since last night the process can be rather server specific.

And yes, it gets a little technical. I’m not a full blown tech-head by any means. But I can slug it out when I need to, and I will get this one worked out very soon.

One of the best explanations of how to set it up with WordPress that I’ve been able to find so far is Using a Cron Job to Keep Things Safe.

If you are using a different blogging platform, I highly recommend you work out how to automate your backup process much sooner rather than later.

I would be having a much better morning, be a little less shell shocked, if I could just whip out a back up and get all those posts and comments back. Learn from my mistake and break your own mishap chain of events.

Remember: Tech stuff breaks so save early and save often!

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