Recovering Old Blog Posts

Back in 2005, I started my first blog, which was my business blog. It was going along okay until March of 2006, when things started looking a little shaky with the hosting company. My friend Kelvin had learned that the hosting company was having issues, while at the same time trying to get someone to buy them out.

Google Logo by Keso

Lo and behold, in April everything just up and crashed. By crashed, I mean all their servers went at once, including the servers that they used to back things up. In an instant, all was gone, and it looked like it was gone for good.

Luckily, I had all the pages for my website on my computer, and was able to get that back up quickly once we moved to a different host. However, the blog was totally gone. I had to make a decision; start all over or give up the ghost and move on with my life.

On a fluke I realized that I could actually recover all of my posts via Google. It seems they had cached every post I’d written; whew! However, now was the long part. I had to look up each post individually, copy it to my computer, then paste it into my blog space. I decided I wanted them in date order as much as possible, but I know I didn’t get them all in there properly. At a certain point I didn’t care. I had recovered about 125 posts, and decided to leave some that really didn’t say much alone. It literally took me about 12 to 14 hours to do it all, but I got it done. That was one of the ugliest days I’d ever put in, but I felt it was necessary to get it all in.

Of course, most folks would say just to backup your blog and it will all be just fine. Actually, that’s not totally true. Depending on your host, it’s possible that your backup file will be much too big to just move over. That’s the problem I ran into when I was trying to upgrade my blog to PHP5. The size of the file I backed up was around 4.3 MB, which isn’t super huge to me, but the largest file one could import to my server was only 2.5MB. Luckily I was able to convince them to help me out, as they said it wasn’t something they normally did for their customers. And I was glad I didn’t have to do it for my other blogs, which were already on PHP5 but weren’t showing it until I did what was required of me in that post above.

I mention this because there’s a possibility that I might be doing a recovery project for someone that’s going to involve this, as well as image searches for the posts. It can be a long and detailed project, but it’s nice to know that the search engines cache that stuff and gives you an opportunity to recover whatever you need for at least a short period of time.

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16 thoughts on “Recovering Old Blog Posts”

  1. Funny thing the same happened to me :)). But it was actually my fault, I moved from a hosting company to my privately owned server and I just downloaded the last backup they made and I didnt bother to look how old it was, big mistake, when I putted all back together lo and behold my site was missing some 5 days of posts, pictures and some other stuff.
    But I managed to recover all the posts with Google and the images were available on the web, sadly google doesn’t cache other things like archives :(.
    Good luck with your project!
    P.S. is the comment box bigger or is it just me ? 🙂

    1. Thanks Alex; I hope I get the project. As for your issue, yeah, remembering to back up immediately before one does a project can be a major mess; that’s scary, but it’s nice to know one can get around it, even if it’s going to take a long time to do so.

      I actually did make the box bigger; as I said, I’d never thought about it until you mentioned it, since I don’t have to post my comments there. I think it works better this way. So I thank you for pointing it out. 😉

  2. Wow that must have been scary Mitch. Me being a technophobe of the first degree, I would have totally freaked out. I got locked out of my own blog after installing a recommended plugin!!! Hostgator to the rescue. They sorted it for me so I am just glad they have 24/7 techie support as being in Oz don’t want them to be sleeping when I need them.
    When my laptop crashed about 4 weeks ago I had not backed up all my work so lost a few articles I had written. The rest was on an external hard drive a friend loaned me so not too bad.
    Now I will be backing everything up all the time so that doesn’t happen again. Not so drastic as your experience though.
    BTW now I will know who to hire if I need any techie work done eh 🙂
    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. At least you can try me out, Patricia! lol I’m glad Hostgator was there for you; sometimes the host is of no assistance at all.

  3. I use Hostgator which you can back up the whole lot into a single zip file then download it which seems the way to go

    Its just remembering to do the thing……….

    1. That’s pretty nice, Peter. That’s something one wouldn’t necessarily know when selecting a host, as it’s not a question most people would think about asking. So it’s nice to know that, in case I or anyone else ever thinks about switching. My question would be if you can import a larger size on your own, or do they have to do it for you?

  4. Mitch,
    Thanks for sharing your initial hosting experience. Even the best host can crash and for that matter any of your digital data can appear any time unless you have periodic backups (and really make sure that those backups actually can be restored – many people do not do this exercise)

    1. True Ajith. However, in this day and age it would be unthinkable for a hosting company to not have backups of everything within at least 4 to 6 hours of the last activity for all of their clients. And if we don’t back things up, shame on us. 🙂

  5. I always keep a fresh copy of database and as well I have daily backup on one of the servers. On the other host there is weekly back up. Long time ago I’ve lost my SEO forum which have been hosting with bad hosting provide which no longer exist. More than 12,000 topics were completely gone without option for recovery.

    1. That had to feel terrible, Carl. At this juncture I can honestly say if I lost my content I probably wouldn’t go back and retrieve it all, not at more than 800 pages, but I’d get at least half I think.

  6. I always keep a fresh copy of the DB on local computer also my provider is doing a backup every week so I am protected. Nevertheless I think it was a scary experience for you, nice from your part to share this with us, you may never know when you need it.

    1. Thanks Bit. If I were smarter I’d pay my host to back up my blog; something to think about one of these days.

  7. I hadn’t realised about Google archiving posts until I pulled one recently (you know the one I mean) and it appeared in Google Reader to various moans of frustration from other people and much embarrassment from me. But now I’ve read your post, I realise that this is a good way – albeit slow, though I’ve much fewer posts than you have, as I’ve not been posting to current blog for as long as you have to yours – to back up posts that I’ve not removed, too… thank you!

    That said… I don’t know how many posts I’d actually miss. There are some, of course, but all of them? Different for you, though, as some or all of your business is tied up in your posts. And some memories, presumably. And, as you say, you might be doing this for someone else.

    I’ve had so many blogs over the years that, in the last few, I’ve backed them up to an external drive and haven’t really worried about putting the posts back online as I’ve kind of had the feeling that they belonged more to a ‘past me’. I know this is kind of away from your current issue, but do you ever feel like that about your posts, Mitch? That they’re no longer relevant to how you are now?

    1. There are some that aren’t all that relevant anymore, Val, and a few posts here and there I remove from the general stream so that no one else can see them by making them private. For instance, I did a book launch in 2008, and I’ve removed that post because the launch is well over 2 years old.

  8. This is a very timely post as I just had a minor scare with my host (Bluehost) last night. It turned out that it was an electrical issue near their office (Provo, UT) and they had to shut down their servers, but luckily it was AFTER they secured everything. Still, it was enough to make me want to look into some proper backup procedures unaffiliated with the host servers. I suggest everyone else do the same if you have a site with extensive information you wouldn’t want to lose.

    1. That would have freaked me out, JJ, so I’m glad it didn’t go really bad for you. See y’all, something threatens your files and output every single day.

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