How the backups were lost – pebkac

How the backups were lost

Once upon a time, this blog was hosted on a thinkstation that sat at my desk at ibiblio. Like any reasonable WordPress user, I backed up my blog regularly, in my case with a cron job that both dumped the database and made a tarball with that dump and the WordPress directory. Crucially, these backups landed elsewhere on the same thinkstation. Had I bothered to put my sysadmin hat on for a moment while looking at this backup strategy, I would have declared it a Very Bad Idea.

At some point I stopped working at the ibiblio office and got a full time job (that some point was January of 2011, for the curious). John at ibiblio was very kind and gracious, leaving that thinkstation alone for many months, and gently reminding me that I should clear things off it before it got repurposed. At some point I got halfway through migrating the blog. I moved the files on disk, but I did not move the database. Now here’s where caching worked some unfortunate magic. Because I used rsync to ship the files over, the cache files came, too. So when I came back a few days later, I saw what looked like a perfectly and completely migrated blog. Had I bothered to click a few pages back in the archives, I would have remembered/realized that the database had not been moved.

Flash forward a few months, and John asks me if I’m done with the thinkstation. Sure! I say. Wipe it!


I’ve talked to several people about my failures (migration fail, backups fail) and I’m assured that there are plenty of other people who fail to put their sysadmin hat back on when dealing with their dinky little personal blogs. Still, I’d like to avoid making those same mistakes again. Wish me luck.

3 responses to “How the backups were lost”

  1. Bummer!

    I have a wordpress plugin that automatically makes a backup of the entire blog (including db) and emails it to me. I have it emailed to my GMail account, thereby creating an off-site backup. I can lookup the plugin I use and let you know if you want.

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