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Lesson learned the hard way | Seth Michalak and SM Consulting

Lesson learned the hard way

I knew better. Really. My end of 2010 was reminiscent of the old tale of the cobbler’s son who had no shoes – I was so busy finishing up my business year and closing with new clients for 2011 that I failed to handle some basic maintenance for my computer and my website.

Through a series of incidents that were my own fault, I managed to delete my entire website from the internet, and then wipe my entire computer of any and all data. In the same week. Apologies to you if we had a meeting that week, as I am certain that my normal sullen disposition was even moreso.

The website problem all started when I sat down to work on a site for a new client. I purchased a hosting package for said client from the same hosting service I use (who will remain nameless as they did nothing wrong) and installed wordpress. After finishing the install, and playing with some settings, there were a few errors I wasn’t happy with and thought it better to start with a fresh WordPress install. So in my infinite wisdom, I headed back to the hosting package site to dump the database and start a new one.

I should have seen it coming from a mile away. My session for the client’s account had timed out on the hosting site, and without thinking, I logged back in to the host with the username and password information stored on my computer. Of course that information was for my account and not the client’s… database gone.

The unfortunate thing about it was I did this at about 10 in the morning, and did not realize that my site was offline until 6 p.m. A frantic call to the host yielded some hopeful news that they SHOULD be able to recover the database file. But 48 hours later came the news that no, they in fact could not.

6 months of blog posts, content and all of my pages gone in a flash. I was able to recover a couple of pieces I had cross posted, and a lot of site formatting that was not in the database. I had also intended to change up the format of my site – take the blog off the front page, and include a clients page on the site, things which were handled in the rebuild and can be seen now. As for the blog posts that I had saved as Word files, but didn’t get around to reposting?

Those were lost two days later when Windows 7 decided it was going to corrupt itself and hang on the welcome screen for hours at a time. Thanks Windows! My on data recovery tool didn’t manage to recover anything, and the last time I did a data back-up? Let’s say this -democrats were still held with some regard in most national polls…

So in a matter of three days I lost nearly everything – thankfully essential client work had been emailed, posted online or stored elsewhere, so I was able to recover all of that. Some personal tax info will need to be rebuilt, and a few concept pieces I was working are gone, and my last three months of eMusic purchases that I hadn’t gotten around to syncing to my iPod were lost forever. Also, my Office 2007 license – so if you have an extra authorization floating around, you would be my hero.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and even some literal head-smashing against the wall, I decided to look at this as an opportunity. An opportunity to start fresh for 2011. An opportunity to limit my reliance on local storage, and an opportunity to make my business more functional.

What have I done?  I have installed a database backup plugin to WordPress.  No more lost content for me.  I have also invested in some network storage- something I should have done long ago.  As I write this I am waiting for delivery of my 2TB network storage drive, where my WEEKLY data back-ups will now write to via my Wi-Fi network.  Finally, I have begun the transition of all of my documents and spreadsheets to Google Docs, which are accessible anywhere and backed-up in the cloud.

Lost data is today’s equivalent of spilled milk.  Does it suck?  Yes indeed. Worth crying over?  Sure. Does that mean I can get it back?  Nope.  Lesson learned. Measures taken.  Hopefully never again.