Thursday, June 01, 2006

Backup, backup...backup? Back up!

This business with Absolute Write struggling to rebuild its database, particularly the message boards, has me thinking again about all the writing I have sitting on BlogSpot, AOL and LiveJournal. Most of it isn't saved to my hard drive at all. The hold message tape on TRAMS, the travel agency accounting software I worked with for years and years, had two people intoning, "Backup, backup, backup!" So why do I so seldom follow that advice?

'Cause it's difficult, tedious and time-consuming, that's why.

It was a little over a year ago that I first looked into backing up my old AOL Journal, Musings from Mâvarin. Someone else's journal had been semi-accidentally deleted by AOL in a TOS-related misunderstanding. If I recall correctly, AOL acted without warning or even getting the facts first. Everyone suddenly got nervous about backing up their blogs. Someone came up with the name of a program that was supposed to help. I downloaded it, but couldn't make it work. Ultimately I saved March, 2004 in a Word file, experimented with saving some HTML files, and gave up. It was just too time consuming. I could only really have done it if I didn't do anything else after work for weeks and weeks. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but not much.

By the time of the AOL Exodus in November, 2005, I probably had about 500 entries on Musings, only about 30 of which were saved anywhere else. I set about reposting all those entries here on the Outpost. I didn't get all that far. I think all of March 2004 is on here, part of April (possibly all of April), and bits and pieces from other months, mostly entries that related to something new I wrote. Reposting each entry meant resizing photos, stripping out AOL ads and links and codes and script, and rearranging as necessary. And with all that, I still didn't end up with local files of this stuff.

Now here's this human-caused disaster involving thousands of people over on AW, and I'm once again reminded that I don't have my own online writing backed up., with a few exceptions. I have the Joshua Wander serial in a Word file, and Mall of Mâvarin, most of my Holiday Trivia, and some drafts of things. So I downloaded a web backup utility that someone recommended on Making Light. Guess what? It's the same program I couldn't make work a year ago! It's probably a newer version, though, so I'll at least give it a try.

Of course, I'm not the only one struggling with this issue right now. A number of people in the latest Making Light comment thread have had the same realization. And Julie B, whose web site is much bigger and more technically ambitious than mine (she designed her own blog from the ground up, no Blogger or other service involved), went to back up her data only to have things basically blow up in her face due to problems with the ISP. (No, I don't actually understand what happened. I'm not much of a techie, but Julie is.) Now she's got to migrate her data to a new ISP, much as AW is doing but on a smaller scale. She has my sympathy and admiration.

The best suggestion I read about all this is for BlogSpot specifically. Click the archive links, one month at a time. Give it time to load. Save as "Web page, complete" if you need to save the photos, or as HTML overwise. Click the next month. Repeat.

That won't work for AOL-J, of course. Beyond the most current stuff, you pretty much have to view one entry at a time. Yeah, it's gonna take a while.

But it has to be done, at least in my case. I still have the wireless router sitting unopened in the kitchen. If I'm ever going to get off dial-up and quit AOL (or at least cut back to one of the low-usage plans, if they still have those), I've got to get my old entries backed up as well as reposted first. Yuck.

Okay, this is getting annoying. I can't type a k any more without really bearing down on the keyboard.


Before I can even try to save those 500 entries, or however many there really are, I've got to make room on my computer. I burned three CDs worth of photo files tonight, trying to take my hard drive below the 85% full mark. Even that took a couple of hours, and one of the CDs failed the verification. Argh. Ack. Sigh.

But it is my excuse to upload a few recently backed-up photos that I haven't previously posted. At least, I don't think I've posted them.

This is from our Disneyland trip of Labor Day weekend, 2005. It's a detail of the 1955 Disneyland model in the Opera House on Main Street USA. This was the original Tomorrowland, with the Rocket to the Moon and Flags of the World.

This is from last summer's monsoon. It looks frighteningly like a mushroom cloud, doesn't it?

Here's the same cloud, with more context.

Enough. It's past 2 AM again. Drat!


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Art_Addiction said...

Wow! You were posting late . . . er . . . early!? I'm adding your entry to the "what everyone's writing about" blog. Have a great day! :)

Paul said...

You may recall that I had an entry removed from my CarnivAOL journal last year without any notification of any kind. By the time I realised it was gone, it was gone from the Google cache as well.

When Armand had his problem, I started saving my entries manually. I think I got about five months saved, and my initiative petered out. So I still have about a year and a half's worth of material online that isn't protected in any way.

Not as much as you, nor of the same nature, but I still wouldn't want to lose it.

julie said...

Oddly enough, one of the reasons I wrote my own blogging software was so that I'd have control over backing up the data. I consider myself to be a techie, but I'm still not sure what happened with the database. The best we can figure is that the server wasn't configured properly. You should be able to get to the site now, but I'm waiting for them to turn on some functionality so I can get everything working.

Becky said...

ooooh yeah. I've got to get back to moving my entries off AOL and over to Blogger. I keep forgetting about that project. I should check back with that blog publishing company to see if they are compatible with AOL yet.

julie said...

Just a quick note - our site. It was a server configuration issue. Took nearly two days to convince them it was THEIR problem. GRR...

DesLily said...

luckily for me aol made everying ticked off when i only had a few months worth of journaling.. i first transferred it ALL to blogspot (with stinging eys and heavy fatigue) and I have it all also saved to word (pics and all) from there once a month I back the "word version" onto a cd. But don't ask if i'd ever try taking it from word and putting it all back up if its lost..cause the answer is no!! lol.. but at least i have it.

once i got caught up here's what i do with every post.. i write it in aol... then i copy and paste the html to blogspot. then I do a normal copy and paste to word. The end of each month i save to a cd.

every 2 or 3 months i do a full backup of my all photos anywhere are saved along with all data... unfortunately, it's time to do that again lol..

Bea said...

Backing up is something I've never done... I suppose I should if I want to keep the blog entries... like you said, it's tedious and time consuming. I'll try to do it before we go to Orlando next week. Now go to bed and get some sleep! bea