Where’d all my content go?


I remember it like it was yesterday.

We teach our kids not to say “stupid” so I'm typing this where they can't see it. But I was stupid. Plain and simple. It's been more than fifteen years and just thinking about it makes me angry.

It was the early days on the internet. My team was asked to build a web-based survey system to collect data from tens of thousands of yearly respondents. We'd been acknowledge and profiled in cnet (a big deal back then) because it was the largest online survey at the time.

Our client had initially designed the system locally on an Access database. If you don't know what that is, just know this – it's a little file that holds data. It's not a big system. It's a small one.

One of my jobs was to back up the data daily. With Access it meant literally copying a file from one computer to another. Today I'd have it in a larger database system with scripts that would automate the work. But this was then.

So there I was at the computer and dragging and dropping the file from one window to another, from one server to another. And then copying the blank file over to start collecting the day's data.

Only that's not exactly what happened.

I ended up getting confused (moving too quickly). I copied the blank file over the data-filled file. The little confirmation window popped up and asked if I was sure. I clicked “yes” quickly.

And that's when all the day's data disappeared.

I went into the office of my boss and immediately confessed. I wanted forgiveness. But this wasn't church. It was work. And all he said was, “Call the client and tell him what you did. See what he wants to do.”

Worst. Call. Ever.

Are you Backing Up?

My friend Cory Miller created a little Content Replacement Cost Calculator to help you think about the value of the posts you've already written.

I don't care if you're a developer, designer, content writer, customer, business, freelancer, or blogger. It doesn't matter to me.

Today I just want to tell  you that if you don't have a back up solution, then you should probably do one of two things:

1. Start practicing your call script where you have to explain how you lost everything.
2. Start checking out BackupBuddy so that you have your content backed up.

Because trust me, from experience, you don't want to step into that call without practice. It's not fun.

Content is often Priceless

Here's the thing about Cory's Calculator, the truth is that we'd often not replace the content that is lost. How do you recover from days, weeks, months or years of content you've created?

In the end, the result of my call with the client was a foregone conclusion. There was no magic switch. We just lost the data and started again, this time with a backup solution in place.

Do me a favor – plan ahead. Go grab BackupBuddy or look into managed WordPress hosting, where they back things up for you.