Google Blogger has done it again. A major update to the service was rolled out at the end of September and many users woke up to find that the links and blog lists they had so carefully created had gone. See the Blogger Help Forum for some of the postings and comments on the incident. Blogger engineers are supposedly working to restore the lost information but it “may take up to several days.” Or never! This is not the first time that blog content has gone missing after an update. A few years ago an update somehow removed the most recent posts from people’s blogs. Most of them were eventually recovered but a few disappeared without trace.
The lesson learned from that experience was back up your blog. In Blogger the import and backup tool is under Settings, Other and at the top of the page. Note, though that this will only backup the text of pages, posts and comments. It does not backup any changes you have made to the template, or the content of the gadgets in your sidebars such as links lists and blogrolls. For the template click on Template in the lefthand sidebar and then on Backup/Restore. This will save the general layout of the gadgets but not the content. For that you will need to copy and save the content for each gadget or save a copy of the content and HTML of your blog. Back up your Blogger blog: photos, posts, template, and gadgets has details of what you need to do.
And don’t forget your photos. For those use Google’s Takeout service at https://www.google.com/settings/takeout.
If you don’t have a copy of your lists of links then see if you can access an older cached version of your blog via Google or Bing and save the whole page, or take screen shots. If you try this several days after the event you may be out of luck. Mine were still in the cached page for up to 2 days but have now gone. In Google, use the ‘cache:’ command, for example:
An alternative is to search for your blog and next to your entry in the results lists there should be a small downward pointing green arrow. Click on it and then on the ‘Cached’ text to view the page. This works in both Google and Bing and, again, the sooner you do this the better.
If none of that works then try the Wayback Machine. Type in the URL of your blog and see if they have any snapshots.
Still no joy? Then either hang around a while longer to see if the Blogger engineers manage to revive your lists or start rebuilding them from scratch. If you haven’t looked at them in a while, maybe now is the time to review the content anyway.
Are your Flickr photos backed up? If Flickr accidentally deleted part or all of your account would you be able to quickly restore your collection? My own complete photo collection that has been gathered together from mobile devices and various cameras is stored on my laptop and an external hard drive, but my Flickr photos are a small subset and are organised differently. I would not relish having to rebuild my Flickr sets from scratch.
Flickr has just announced that it will be down for planned maintenance tomorrow (Thursday 24th) from 4 PM PDT to 10 PM PDT. As far as I am aware there have been no major data losses so far as a result of maintenance and upgrades by Flickr, but it once accidentally deleted a user’s entire account (Flickr user gets back account after its accidental deletion http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/02/03/flickr-user-gets-back-account-after-its-accidental-deletion/). Flickr did, however, eventually manage to restore the account.
You cannot assume that maintenance and upgrades will be without incident, though. A couple of years ago some bloggers using Google Blogger lost posts as a result of problems that arose during maintenance. (Blogger still down; 30 hours of posts lost http://www.neowin.net/news/blogger-still-down-30-hours-of-posts-lost). My husband was one of those whose posts never reappeared but thankfully he had backups. Some of his articles are quite long and detailed so he is in the habit of preparing them offline before uploading to Blogger. He also has a full backup created using Blogger’s Import/Export option (it can be found under Settings, Other). Flickr, however, does not offer an option to export your data so one has to resort to third party tools.
One of the best tools I have found to date for backing up a Flickr account is Bulkr (http://clipyourphotos.com/bulkr). This has to be downloaded to your computer and requires Adobe AIR to be installed. The free version allows you to download your photostream (small, medium or large sizes but not the original) and up to 15 sets.
If you want to download all of your sets, the original sized photos and include the metadata (title, description, tags) then you will need to upgrade to the Pro version, which currently costs USD 29.99/year. There is a Pro+ option, which is a one time payment currently offered at USD 49. Bulkr does not download comments.
An alternative is MyFlickrBackup (http://myflickrbackup.com/), which costs USD4.99 and requires .NET Framework Client Profile to run. It downloads original sized photos and all of your sets, but not the metadata. Two other programs that have been recommended to me but which I haven’t yet tried are FlickrDownload (http://www.onstation.org/flickrdownload/) and photoSync (http://webecoz.com/).
I’d be interested in hearing your experiences of any of the above, or if you know of other useful Flickr backup apps.