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Recovering from server failure and bad backups: the Internet remembers

Two days ago I received several emails notifying me that my sites were all down. Soon thereafter my VPS hosting provider emailed me to say my server, and numerous others, had all been lost, and they had no backups.

Unfortunately, my SQL backup system had been failing silently, and the latest ones were from February. Fortunately, all my filesystem data (pictures, templates, static files) were backed up constantly via Dropbox, so none of that was lost. But how to recover all my posts since February?

Google caches pages, so all my pages were archived there at least — but it’s quite clunky to pull down more than a few pages from their caches. Warrick promises to automate the process, but I couldn’t get it to recover my articles (though it worked fine for other pages). So instead I went to Google Reader — where my RSS feed has been archived going back years. I went through each missing article and sent it into Evernote to archive it. Then I tediously went through Evernote and cut & pasted my article back into WordPress with the correct date (and re-added images, which had been saved via Dropbox). Frustrating, but it’s working fine! (And I’ve switched hosting providers.)

The lesson? Validate your backups! And never give up if it seems like you’ve lost things online. The Internet remembers.

Kristopher Nelson, JD, MA (ABD)

I'm currently a PhD Candidate in History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. I also provide law and technology consulting services. Additionally, I'm a non-practicing lawyer and former developer/sysadmin at a biotech non-profit. For more about me and my work, see or my Google Profile.

2 responses to “Recovering from server failure and bad backups: the Internet remembers

  1. Any particular reason you still went with “one article at a time” , instead of
    saving the entire GReader cached atom feed to a local file and import that
    file into WordPress ?

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