Saturday, May 14, 2011

Important Info for Fellow Bloggers!

On the advice of a good friend, who has learned this lesson from painful experience, I have been intending to look into how to backup my blog. In light of the major Blogger glitch that just occurred, it would be a good time for any of us who don't already have an established backup procedure in place to acquire one.

But finding out how to backup information from Blogger wasn't as easy as I thought it would be; putting "how to backup Blogger" in the Great Google will get you tons of results, but most of the hits are message board questions that were never answered, or answered - incorrectly - with "you can't, no way to do it". After some digging, it turns out that you need to follow the Import/Export instructions (from the Blogger Help Center).

All the step-by-step instructions are here, but for the backup instructions, you need to scroll down to the very bottom of the page for the "Export" information.

Basically, the way to backup your content (your posts, including text, photos and formatting), is to go to the "Settings" tab in your Blogger and select the Export blog button. I had assumed that, like the "Import" option, this was only of use if you intended to move platforms or change blogging services. I had no idea that this was the way to make backups. But, according to Blogger, saving the "Export" .xml file on your hard drive will enable you to keep a copy of your blog.

That way, if your blog should get get deleted or corrupted, as happened to thousands of people during the Blogger glitch, you have a file that you can use to restore your blog, following the "Import" instructions. This is very important, because although the Blogger service has been working to restore the blogs and contents that were deleted, there is no guarantee that your data and hard work will be able to be retrieved or will be retrieved in excellent condition. It seems most reasonable to download an "Export" copy every month, but special effort should be made (I think) after major posts or design changes. Or before long periods of absence (e.g. vacations).

Which brings me to a very important point - from what I can gather, the "Export" file will only contain your posts, pictures and formatting. It will NOT contain your blog design and widgets. So Step 2 is to download and save a copy of your template.

Frustratingly, I can't find the full step-by-step instructions for this in the Blogger Help Center! But this discussion in the Blogger Help Forums covers most of it, although the only right answer is the Best Answer. I've been saving my template for some time now (although I realized that my content wasn't saved), and I make sure to click the "Expand Widgets" box right above the code box before I download my template so that the all the coding for my "Widgets" (all your sidebar stuff) gets saved in that download.

Otherwise, you save a copy of the basic design template and changes, but when you upload it again (if you need to!), all of your sidebar gadgets will not work and will need to be installed and customized again! And that would be a total nightmare! I find it's helpful to put the date in front of the the template name before you save it, so that if you do need to restore it, you can search by date and easily find the most recent copy.

So, in a nutshell, to backup with Blogger you need to regularly get into the routine of following the two steps of 1. Saving the "Export" file, and 2. "Downloading" your Template, with the "Expand Widgets" box checked, to save the most complete facsimile of your blog to your hard drive for future reference and in case of emergency.

I hope that this is clear! Honestly, I have no idea why this isn't explained clearly with the two steps (and instructions for how to do them) linked together, but I can't find anything like that in the Blogger Help Articles or the Blogger Help Forums (user discussions).

Nevertheless, I hope that this information will be helpful to you, and perhaps save you some grief! I know I'm going to have to get into doing the Two-Step Blogger Backup dance in a sort of schedule soon, because I don't want to lose all that I've created!

* I do realize that confessing so much ignorance is embarrassing, but I figure that some of you that also use Blogger might have similar problems, and I thought I'd better fess up and share this with you just in case, on the principle that it's better late than never!


Karen said...

I've never backed up my blog over all these years, but after this Blogger mishap, someone suggested I should... and I did. Good idea and great info!

Ági said...

Thanks for the idea and the info, I am doing it right away.

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Karen: I'm glad you're backing up now! And I'm very happy that you found this post helpful!

Agi: You're very welcome! I'm glad you found this info helpful! I thought it was too important not to share ;)