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Does Your Blog Have a Disaster Recovery Plan?

written by John Chow on June 3, 2008

The Ultimate Online Profit Model

A few days ago, there was a electrical fire at The Planet that knocked out 9,000 servers, including the one belonging to Entrecard. Luckily, the fire only knocked out power and three walls. None of the customer servers were damaged. However, their sites were offline while The Planet worked to restore power.

This is a good time to remind ourself that disaster can strike at anytime and we should have a recovery plan in place in case it hits. This is doubly important if you depend on your site for income. If the site goes down, so does your income. One of my friends recently experienced a disaster when the drive on his server went bad. He lost all the data and wasn’t able to recover it. Five years of blog history wiped out forever because he didn’t have a backup plan.

Have a Backup Plan

You should at the very least have a weekly backup of your blog. The easiest way to backup your blog is with the WordPress Database Backup Plugin by Skippy.net. The Plugin allows you to download the backup file, or have it emailed to the address of your choice. I like to keep multiply copies of my backups in different locations just to be on the safe side. Best time to do a backup is late at night and one the weekend because traffic is at its lowest point.

Some web hosts, like BlueFur, have automatic file backups of their customer sites. Should disaster strike, they can generally get you back online within a few hours. You may lose a post or two but that’s a lot better than losing the entire site. Check with your web hosts to make sure your plan has this feature. Even if it does, I would still make manual backups.

RAID Kills Bugs Dead, Not Data

If you’re site is big enough that it needs its own server, then you should spend the extra money to set up a RAID system. The server that host John Chow dot Com has RAID 1 drives. Files are saved to two drives that mirror each other. Should one drive go bad, the other drive will take over. In the extremely rare case that both drives would go bad at the same time, then you’ll be thankful that you made regular backups of your data.

At TTZ Media, we go one step further by mirroring entire servers. The front end is handle by four servers. This help spread the load and provide redundancy and security in case one or more server goes down. All servers run RAID 1 drives so there’s eight copies of the data. And just to be extra safe, there’s a backup server as well.

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you have no backup plan in place for your blog, then now would be a good time to make one. We like to think our sites will always be up and making us money. However, disaster can strike when you least expect it.

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{ 53 comments }

wisdom June 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Thanks for point that out. Any blogger who is making decent income should invest in making sure there site(s) stay up.

Affiliate Confession June 3, 2008 at 10:17 pm

Imagine if you were making the income John is on this blog and you lost it all overnight.

Make Money Talks June 4, 2008 at 4:01 am

Uf, then you need world wide disaster to destroy all RAIDS John have :)

Flimjo June 4, 2008 at 7:04 am

But that’s the power of being a high-income blogger. John could lose this blog overnight, but it wouldn’t affect him. He has brand power, and he can set up a new blog tomorrow, call it something else, start writing, and within a few weeks be back to full strength in terms of income.

Sha June 4, 2008 at 2:24 pm

I would shoot myself. I don’t get scared by anything [except spiders], but that’s a scary thought.

Nicholas James June 4, 2008 at 3:13 am

Good think BlueFur gives him free hosting for the blog then :razz:

Abdul June 4, 2008 at 3:47 am

Ahhh… :evil: I wanna be a Famous blogger like John Chow so that i can also avail such facilities!

Affiliate Confession June 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Just read K-Rad’s story, wow 5 years of data…lost. Now that’s a serious bummer.

Nicholas James June 4, 2008 at 3:13 am

Thats why you need backups :!:

Terry Tay June 4, 2008 at 8:18 pm

YEah, 5 years of data gone would be a terrible hit to take. The risk is too great for people not to make sure their site is backed up regularly.
~Terry

Gary Jones :: BlueFur.com June 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Just a note we do not do tape backups. We just do normal file backups.

Collin - Feed Flare June 4, 2008 at 6:22 am

Gary, I think Blue Fur has been my biggest asset and your blog management package totally takes away any of the stress of running a site and wordpress.
I have not made much money (some but nothing like what John is making) reading John’s blog yet but the one thing I did get was a great host……thanks

Johan Cyprich June 4, 2008 at 11:45 am

Do you store all of your backups in your office? Backups should also be made to another province (or state for the guys down south).

Quintin Riis June 3, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Making regular backups is important. I try to backup my home directory at least weekly. The providers for servers I admin do backups themselves, but I also have offsite backups of forum and blog databases, as well as other important things.

I do have some stuff on one 500gb disk that isn’t backed up, but it’s all expendable. Just music and movies that I can rerip from the source if needed.

It’s also important to have backups of your home computers as well if they have any important data. I recently wrote a post about making backups with partimage.

Boris June 3, 2008 at 11:08 pm

I use BackUpWordPress to send me backups automatically every day to my email, and every week for the files. So I get a database backup daily, and a full home directory backup weekly. I think I’m doing good in terms of backups. :smile:

Nicholas James June 4, 2008 at 3:14 am

You should also have a backup plan should something happen to them too

Abdul June 3, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Nice idea, i should immediately backup my Blog’s script and posts as well, because I use blogger and i do not need web hosting!

Miguel Cangueiro June 4, 2008 at 12:20 am

I do backups every time I do a post. I prefer to spend a bit more time with this and have all my things saved :wink:

$ Secret Money Blog $ June 4, 2008 at 12:47 am

My blog is hosted by Blogger.com & i don’t think that i may face that problem… :grin:

Nicholas James June 4, 2008 at 3:18 am

Better being safe then sorry :!:

Pradeep June 4, 2008 at 1:19 am

wow that was a eye opener post John i never took back of my blog
But now I would like to take backup of my blog any one knows how to take back up of Blogspot blog? :shock:

Pete June 4, 2008 at 6:39 am

Even if you’re not a techie, there are ways to do back up– how about write your blogs on your PC, save it locally, and then copy-paste into blogspot?

Thando - Website Development June 4, 2008 at 1:24 am

I would go crazy losing all my data I’ve collected over the years.

phanatic74 June 4, 2008 at 1:53 am

Thanks for the heads Up !! i just started blogging and that is a tremendous help . . . . Thanks John – Go Phightins !! :grin:

Noobpreneur June 4, 2008 at 2:01 am

John,

You reminds me – I forgot to backup my blog database – again. I better get that database backup plugin soon before it’s all too late :P

Cheers!

Thiago Prado June 5, 2008 at 7:47 pm

The easiest way to backup your blog is with the Wordpress Database Backup Plugin by Skippy.net.

Barbara Ling June 4, 2008 at 2:43 am

Database backup and site/server backup/mirroring are critical steps anyone must take for their information.

It also helps to back up home computer files as well via a dedicated server at the very least.

Data points,
Barbara

Manfred June 4, 2008 at 2:55 am

You never think about saving datas but it is very important to do and to spend a couple of minutes for it.

If you don’t do it and somethings happens you are lost.

Regards

Monty June 4, 2008 at 4:21 am

Great post. Very usefull as always.
Monty

Rajaie AlKorani June 4, 2008 at 5:21 am

If you still are confident of nothing happening, then I think you’ll just need to find out how it feels first hand.

Pete June 4, 2008 at 6:37 am

I have several backup plans:

1. I have a cron job (ie. a scheduled job) that runs nightly to back up the database to flat file onto a different computer. Every month, I take the latest one and burn it onto a CD. This takes care of the content side of my websites such as http://ww2db.com and http://dev-notes.com

2. Every few months, I take all the HTML/PHP/whatever files that makes up the infrastructure side of things and burn them onto a CD.

3. At least once a year, when I have to visit my safe deposit box at the bank anyway (get my passport, put in the new car’s title, etc.), I take the latest backup CDs and put it in there.

Pete June 4, 2008 at 6:43 am

Here’s my backup plan:

1. Every night, a cron job (scheduled job, that is) backs up the mysql database into a flat file at my webhost, and my webhost claims (hehe) files are backed up regularly. Just so I don’t rely on them, once a month I download the latest database export and burn onto a CD to keep with me. This takes care of my sites such as http://ww2db.com and http://dev-notes.com that keeps content in databases.

2. Once every few months, I burn the infrastructure stuff such as HTML pages, PHP pages, etc. and copy them all onto a CD.

3. Once every few months, or at least once a year, I take my latest CD set and put it in my safe deposit box at the bank when I have to go anyway to put jewelry in there, put car title in there, etc.

Pete June 4, 2008 at 7:43 am

Oops… I had a brain lapse and posted twice… Sorry guys

Jake June 4, 2008 at 6:50 am

Just remember that Raid != backup..Always have something else in place in case Raid fails..If you have a software Raid stop reading now and go buy a hardware Raid card :-). I do a sql dump daily and then have an rsync backup script on two different machines that pull a complete uncompressed backup.

Tresvanty June 4, 2008 at 6:56 am

That entrecard downtime killed my traffic for a bit.

Flimjo June 4, 2008 at 6:59 am

I use the plugin, and it’s great. I highly recommend it.

Naijaecash June 4, 2008 at 7:14 am

I had a little glimpse of what it may look like when my site went offline two days ago. I wasn’t myself. I was really upset because the back-up I had was about a month old and so much work would have simply gone down the drain. Thanks for the reminder.

Gary Gregory June 4, 2008 at 8:10 am

Great information John, especially for newbie bloggers like myself.

Urban Wear Lookout June 4, 2008 at 8:54 am

Very good info – thanks!

Start Blogging June 4, 2008 at 9:43 am

Unfortunately, I had to learn it the hard way with my sites. Now I know!

Andrew Scotchmer June 4, 2008 at 9:49 am

This is just what I need.

Last year I gave up blogging after three months when nobody came. Two weeks ago after reading this website for a couple of months I thought of having another go.

On Tuesday I got stumbled which shot up my readership but then disaster! Wordpress crashed – and just when I was getting somewhere. Fortunately I had some posts still in openoffice but basically I just had to reinstall and lost the majority.

I will DEFINATELY be downloading this plugin and backup regularly.

Cheers John, boy do I love this site.

Frank C June 4, 2008 at 11:00 am

Another consideration beyond what might happen on your server is what might happen to you. I was in a serious car accident last week. Fortunately, I was not injured significantly but what if I had been? Would my wife be able to find my passwords and know how to continue making money online? She knows where the passwords and list of niche sites are but she probably doesn’t know what to do to continue building income from them. Something to think about.

David Lithman June 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Is this the same “fire/explosion” that wiped out StatCounters servers the other day. I lost like 2 days worth of stats.

Sha June 4, 2008 at 2:33 pm

I’ve been backing up my sites for as long as I can remember because you can never be too safe.

Some people only keep their backups on their computers & that’s a terrible idea. One time, we had such a bad storm that my hard drive got fried. I got a new one, but it was the offline backups that saved the day. They were important because the site still had old content up only while the backups had new content.

Nick June 4, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Thanks for the reminder, I have been a little lax lately on making backups of my server!

Thiago Prado June 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm

It’s not everyone that can afford to have mirror server. I think a good blogger should at least backup the data weekly.

Mike Huang June 4, 2008 at 11:19 pm

ThePlanet’s disaster really did show how Entrecard didn’t even focus on any sort of backup. I believe that having backups with that plugin you mentioned is a huge necessity. Although not all of us could reach your level John, backing up daily is what I personally think each blogger should do :)

-Mike

Jeremy June 5, 2008 at 4:00 am

Nice post. One of those totally common sense subjects that you just completely forget about until reminded. I like the idea of backing up in multiple places also, for extra disaster protection.

alan rimm-kaufman June 5, 2008 at 6:26 am

A critical but sometimes overlooked part of a backup plan is actually testing that you can recover your site from your backup files. Test and practice to be sure. Find a spare server(s), get your backup files, and bring up your site/blog/app there. Could you do it? How long did it take? Were there any config gotchas? Could someone besides yourself do it? You don’t know how hard (or easy) this is until you try. Keep paper and electronic copies of the exact steps you need to bring your creation back online in a safe place.
Cheers
Alan

Tim Linden June 5, 2008 at 11:25 am

John – This is the very reason I started to look at offsite backups, and wrote a tutorial on backing up to Amazon’s S3. I have RAID 1 and off server backups through The Planet’s NAS, but if the whole datacenter is down that doesn’t help at all as I can’t access the NAS. So by having it copied over to Amazon as well I can access it anywhere, and easily download it to my PC too.

Gabriel Lai June 5, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Yea! I have my scheduled backup running daily and it will deliver to me through email :cool:

Chip June 7, 2008 at 1:31 am

I do manual backup every month for all my blogs and websites. I store these backups on CDs. So if anything bad happens, I will lose 30 days of blogging at the worst.

On the other hand, I don’t post on the highest frequency, so 30 days, wouldn’t be much of a loss.

Jonathon June 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Hey John. Good tip to bloggers about having a backup. On a related note, people should generally be backing up their data securely (read: not just on your hard-drive). There are software solutions that allow individuals or even large organizations to save their data automatically and securely for convenient retrieval (As an example, read more here) or have a gander at a funny video on the topic at http://youtube.com/watch?v=tma2PQn5EyI. We’ve been having issues with secure data storage pretty much since the dawn of the computing age. Fortunately, some new software solutions are making the process more automatic, so no one ever has to worry about whether or not they actually clicked “save” before their hard drive went down.