Last week, the Blogger service was down for two days, during which time people could not add posts or comments. Even scarier, several days’ worth of material disappeared temporarily. Eventually everything was restored, but this was yet another example of why putting your trust in an external service you don’t control may not be a good idea.
What would have happened if the techs couldn’t restore the lost posts? What would have happened if the entire site had gone down — or the powers that be at Google decided they didn’t want to be in the free blog business any more? What if your blog had been reported for spam or inappropriate content and you were completely locked out of it? Would you have to start all over?
“No problem,” you say. “I have all my years’ worth of posts and images — and the comments! — backed up and can switch to another service in a heartbeat.”
Um… you do have everything backed up, don’t you?
Follow me over the jump and I’ll show you how.
1. Go to your Blogger dashboard. Click on “Settings” and then on “Export Blog.”
Click the “Download” button.
In Firefox, just click the button and make sure you choose “Save File,” not “Open.”
In Internet Explorer, right-click the button and choose “Save Target As.”
In Safari, right-click and choose “Download linked File.”
Now your blog and its comments are all stored safely on your hard drive in XML format.
2. Save your template.
If you are using a standard, non-modified template, this may not be necessary. If you’ve made any changes to it, or have a custom template, be sure to back up your template as well.
To do this, go to the “Design” tab on your dashboard and click “Edit HTML.” (Don’t worry, you won’t actually have to edit the HTML.)
Click the link that says “Download Full Template,” following the guidelines above to be sure that you save the XML file to your computer.
3. Save your images.
If you have uploaded images to Flickr, Picasa, or another service and just linked to them inside your blog, you can skip this step. (Do consider backing them up from those services, though!) If you upload images directly to Blogspot, however, you’ll need to be sure you have a copy of them all on your computer.
The best way I’ve found to do that is with DownThemAll!, an extension for Firefox. Add it to your Firefox browser here.
Now go to the front page of your blog, the one people will see when they visit.
Open DownThemAll! through the Tools menu: Tools -> DownThemAll Tools -> DownThemAll
The DownThemAll window opens and shows you every element available on the page. Click on the Filters button at the bottom of the screen.
DO check the Images box (lower right).
If you don’t use videos or podcasts, you can uncheck those two boxes (red Xs), which come checked by default.
Click “Start.” Wait. Done!
4. One last step.
On your calendar, make yourself a note to back up your blog once per week. Yes, it’s a pain… but this is your work we are talking about. Isn’t it worth a few minutes of time? And once you have your system set up, it will be easy to store a safe, up-to-date, offsite copy of your blog… just in case.
Footnote: Please also consider moving to a self-hosted WordPress installation with your own domain name. WordPress is easy to use, flexible, and almost infinitely configurable. There is also an automatic backup option — tell it to back everything up once per week and it just happens. Automatically! Email me if you are interested. I promise to offer useful information on how you can do it, not a hard sell for my services.