Something wasn’t right. I’d just gotten off the phone with a friend who’d noticed that my blog was down. I was on a trip that weekend, so I didn’t investigate further until I got home. What awaited me was every blogger’s worst fear – an empty website, an infinite log-in loop, and too many 404 pages to count. I had the dreaded white screen of death.
I worked with my hosting site’s customer service over the course of a month to figure things out. When the dust had settled, I was looking at a database table corruption that effectively wiped my entire blog clean. There was a lump in my throat as I got the final prognosis that nothing could be done but a clean install. Close to six years’ worth of content was gone from the site.
The journey to get my blog back up was filled with (figurative) blood, sweat, and tears. But in the end, I’m absolutely ecstatic to announce that Random Tidbits of Thought is back in full force! Read on for the story!
After the News
Following several weeks of expecting and mentally preparing for the worst , I finally heard the confirmation that my blog was toast. Things weren’t so bad when I remembered that I’d exported my first four years’ worth of content during my last blog migration. After finding that file, it took many hours to re-install WordPress and import all my posts, comments, and pictures back into the blog, but I once again had a functioning blog.
With that out of the way, my confidence grew. I needed to figure out a way to recover my posts from the past two years. That’s where feedly came to the rescue! I’d subscribed to the RSS feed for my blog with feedly. Since the site saved all of my posts from the past two years, all I had to do was manually copy-paste the content and publish under the original date.
The tough part was re-uploading all the photos. Since they were still in my database, I downloaded the Add from Server plugin, which allowed me to select all the photos in my database that I wanted to re-upload to the site. This was another manual process that took hours to do, but in the end saved me possibly hundreds of hours of having to find all the pictures to re-upload again.
The final piece was making sure that my new post permalinks (URLs) matched the old post permalinks. It took some trial and error, but I was able to match it up 100%. We were good to go!
That’s when disaster struck, again. The day after I finished my first re-constructed post, I went back to my feedly, only to find that all of my entries had disappeared! I had a mini-heart attack as I frantically searched around. I realized that re-posting using the same URL must have reset the RSS feed in some way, so I was back at square one with my remaining posts.
This time, another website called Wayback Machine came to the rescue. Wayback Machine is an SF-based digital archive that takes snapshots of websites at different points of its existence. In the past it was a fun gag activity to search for the original Google/Facebook/Yahoo websites, but now the site had a new significance as I was able to find most of my posts from the past two years archived in “snapshots.”
I recovered the rest of my posts in feedly by manually going through my history and finding my blog posts. I’d almost always re-read my posts in feedly in the past to check for errors and review my content, so that habit definitely came in handy here.
The New Beginning
I’m proud to announce the fourth iteration of my blog, Random Tidbits of Thought! All in all I was able to salvage 100% of my posts and images and about 2/3 of my comments (in progress). My links are the same as before and even though I lost the site SEO from being dark for so long, I’m confident that in due time my posts will be back up in the search rankings.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I took away from this ordeal is to always be prepared for the worst case scenario. Up to this point, I never backed up my data because I assumed (1) I wouldn’t be in a situation where I’d lose all my data and (2) WordPress & Bluehost would take care of any issues if they did appear. I was let down big-time on both fronts, and especially with Bluehost, who hung me out to dry for almost a month before figuring something out that should’ve taken 10 minutes.
So one of the first things I did was download the BackUpWordpress plugin, which now automatically backs up my blog every month. I also installed the All in One WP Security plugin to make my site more secure. We weren’t able to figure out what caused the initial database corruption (the rep speculated that a plugin had done it), but now I’m taking extra precautions in case there was any dirty play involved.
In any case, I’m pretty confident that worse comes to worse, I’ll have a quick way to restore all my content in the future.
Welcome to Random Tidbits of Thought
I’ve probably spent close to 20 hours salvaging and reconstructing this blog so far. The time spent is well worth it to me – this blog represents my life’s work (post-high school, at least), and there are so many emotions, memories, and revelations attached to my posts through the years.
The new RTT site has been updated with a new theme from MyThemeShop. I’m a big fan of their designs, and my last theme was also from them. The end results are impressive – RTT is now a beautiful, clean, fully-responsive blog that works on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. I’m also excited that photos are now much larger than before and make much better use of the white space on the sides of the pages.
I’ve been tweaking the entire blog for over a week now, and I think it’s nearing the point that I’m happy to share.
Also, you may have noticed the brand new logo for Random Tidbits of Thought. I want to give a shout out to Aileen, who did an amazing job designing the logo from scratch, using only vague descriptors of how it should look from yours truly (“needs to capture the essence of the site”). I think the new logo adds a nice flair and finally gives my blog an identity. In the past, I’d relied on whatever font was supported from the theme (Impact, anyone?), so this is a good step in a new direction.
I’m looking forward to using this beautiful logo in the years to come. Thanks again, Aileen!
Thanks to My Readers
And finally, I want to thank all of my readers through the years. During the saga of losing my blog, there was a voice in the back of my head questioning the point of all this. And then the messages came. Not many, mind you, but some of my friends started to message me asking what had happened to the blog. Those tiny bits of affirmation did wonders in encouraging me to bite the bullet and figure things out, so I’m grateful for the support.
It’s my hope that I’ll continue to blog in the months and years to come. If you’ve found any of my posts helpful, entertaining, or insightful through the years, I’d appreciate that you continue to follow the blog. I just created a Facebook page (finally) for Random Tidbits of Thought, so you can also show your support by liking the RTT page on Facebook. Takes a second and I promise I won’t spam that account! I’m planning to periodically post blog updates and interesting articles, which isn’t different from what I do on my own Facebook account today.
Looking ahead I’ll continue to work on the rest of my missing posts (from the past two years). I’m about halfway through, and it takes a bit of time since I have to re-enter keywords, photos, and captions. But I’m enjoying the opportunity to read through older posts and live through some fun times since I graduated from college.
I promise that I’ll try my best to continue writing quality posts going forward. All of you have been amazing supporters through the years, whether it’s from commenting on the posts, messaging me on social media, or encouraging me in real life. I’ve written way too much for this session, so without further ado…
Welcome to Random Tidbits of Thought!