One of the worst things that can happen to a blogger is to wake up one day not only to find that their blog has been down, but to find that their database has been completely erased or corrupted. If your host doesn’t have automated backups or any kind of backup support, your in trouble. Or even worse, what if your host just goes out of business and you lose everything (it’s happened to me before). It’s not uncommon for this to happen and unfortunately not many bloggers know how to backup their blogs or find the time to do it. I try to make backups every now and then for Solution Watch, but it just isn’t enough to please me. Thankfully, BackupMyBlog has taken the initiative to solve this common problem and created a service that will automatically backup your blog everyday at a remote location (two locations, actually) in two different secured servers. BackupMyBlog currently offers 10MB of space and is free only during its beta testing stage. It only backs up databases, although it has been said file backups may be a possibility in the future in an extended plan.
Getting started is very simple, but make sure your blog meets the requirements first. You must have access to the server your blog is hosted on and must support PHP 4.3.0 or later. Your blog’s database also needs to be a MySQL database. If your a WordPress user like myself, everything should be just fine. After confirming your server meets the requirements, you then have to setup BackupMyBlog to backup your database.
You have two options when setting up BackupMyBlog to your server. You can either use their quick and easy Wizard Setup or the Manual Setup. The wizard will take you through a three step process that will ask you for some basic information about your database and FTP. You first enter your FTP information (FTP details will not be saved) and it will display your servers file system. Select the directory where your blog installation exists and it will automatically do the rest for you and upload two files to your server for BackupMyBlog. It’s that simple and your ready to go. However, there was one part that I felt uncomfortable about during this process. When it successfully finds your blogs configuration file, it asks for your MySQL database information, which it should, but what I didn’t really like was how it prefilled all of the MySQL information for me (host, username, password, and database). Maybe it’s just me, but it spooked me a little, specifically because of the password. Anyone else feel the same? Anyways, the manual setup just steps you through making two files that you include in your blogs directory (same files the wizard would setup).
Once everything has been setup, you will be directed back to the management area where you can access your backup history, restore your database from a previous backup, and modify reporting options. Shortly after (around 15 minutes) you will receive your first report, either by RSS feed (available in management area) or by email. Make sure everything looks correct and if there are any problems, submit a support ticket. I haven’t had any issues yet. The history area will show all your database tables and the amount of records in each so you can easily compare differences in the backups, making it easier for you to pick the best date to restore to if your database every does run into problems.
Restoring a database takes only a minute and is a very simple process. If you go into the restore section of BackupMyBlog, you will see a list of your backups sorted by date. Select a backup and then pick a method to restore. You can choose either a PHP script that will perform the database backup for you or an SQL file that you have to run yourself. Either way, you have to download a script and get it on your server, which I much prefer over having a remote service attempt to do it. If you have chosen the PHP script, all you have to do is upload the script to your server and access it. Submit the form when the page loads and all is set. Just make sure to delete the file when you are done so no one can attempt to back it up again.
That’s about all there is to it. I have ran multiple tests and everything seemed to work great without problem. I first setup a fresh installation of WordPress for our company that we hope to blog at soon. I wanted to do a fresh database rather then jumping at Solution Watch and find an error occur, just to be safe. Everything went through perfectly though. I collected a few days worth of backups. Added test posts to the blog here and there and restored the database a couple times. Once I knew things were working well, I have setup BackupMyBlog on Solution Watch and the backups are being made. Hopefully, I wont have to use them, but atleast I have them and don’t have to worry about making backups on my own.
Overall, I found BackupMyBlog to be a great service that can definitely help many bloggers out there. Many servers, especially on shared servers, do have some kind of backup system already, but those of you that don’t may want to look into BackupMyBlog. It would have also made things a whole lot quicker when switching my hosting for Solution Watch to Media Temple. It took some time to get the database over then, but I imagine it would only take a matter of minutes with BackupMyBlog.
BackupMyBlog is a service by Doug Martin who is also the owner of LookLater, one of my favorite bookmarking tools. I could not find a price at BackupMyBlog for when it’s out of the free beta stage, but a post over at Mark Allen’s states that it may be $20/3 months of daily backups. Not bad at all, but no word on official pricing as of yet.