BlogBackupOnline… Because Really, Who Wants to Lose Their Posts?

Posted: 2007-08-06 in General
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recently, I've been trying out a free online service from Techrigy called BlogBackupOnline.  Up until now, I wouldn't have recommended it for Vox users due to a bug that wouldn't let them back up my posts past a certain date in history.  However, now they've fixed that and I feel comfortable recommending them here on my blog.

What It Is
What BlogBackupOnline claims to be is "an effortless way to backup, restore, and export your blog".  Supporting more than 10 different blog sites (including the big ones of LiveJournal, Vox, Blogger, Movable Type, Typepad, and WordPress), BlogBackupOnline crawls a specified blog for all your posts and comments, and creates a backup on their third-party servers.  Once the blog undergoes one full backup, you can then turn on daily update scans, that will record changes made to your entries, new comments, and back up any entries made from that point on.

How It Works
Once you sign up for a free account (50 Mb storage per account), you can register one or more blogs to be backed up using this "full scan" crawl.  After the scan is completed (took me about 7 minutes for ~200 entries in my blog history), you can enable the daily scans.  From that point on, all the existing entries, are scanned daily for changes and new comments, which are then added to the blog's backup.  New entries are also backed up the same way.

The Backup
Once your entries are backed up, you can go check it out using the dashboard provided at the BlogBackupOnline website.  The "Content" tab shows you all of the individual entries, and selecting any one of them will show you the full HTML backup of that page, as well as all the comments that have been backed up.  Although some people may only want the text portions of their posts backed up, I like having the HTML because it includes all hyperlinks, text formatting, etc.  Plus, if you ever want to restore/transfer your posts in the future, you're probably going to want this info.  There's no way to turn off the backup of all HTML, though, so for now it's like-it-or-lump-it.

Restoring Your Blog
Although BlogBackupOnline claims to restore blogs, there is NO option yet for restoring a Vox blog.  Although this may be due to the nature of the Vox platform, I hope that at one point in the near future, BlogBackupOnline will have a means to restore individual posts or full blogs to Vox blogs.  In the meantime, you can restore/transfer your posts to Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress, or Windows Live Spaces.  You can, of course, copy/paste an individual entry from the backup into the Vox compose screen, but that defeats the real purpose of the restore feature and would be tiresome for someone with a large number of posts.

Exporting Your Blog
Are you one of those untrusting souls who can't stand not to do it yourself?  You can always export the entire backup's contents to a single .xml file (in RSS 2.0 format) via the export tab on the dashboard.  You can do whatever you like with it, including burning a copy to CD in case you want a hard-copy backup.  (Theoretically, you could try doing a Vox import off of this file if you hosted it somewhere, and see if Vox was able to pull it all in – that might get around the "restore" issue, but I can't vouch that this works.  If someone would like to test this and let me know, I'll update the review to let everyone know how it works.)

Other Features
The dashboard also contains a "log" tab that lets you view status of recent full/daily update scans (helpful, but not necessary unless you're paranoid about ensuring your backups took place).  There is also the option to back up "media files" (currently images), but this doesn't seem to apply to Vox blogs, as checking this box made no change to the backup content of my blog.  With a 50 Mb storage limit, I'm not sure you'd really want to back up media anyways – you might be constantly pushing the limit if you tend to post a lot of photos on your blog.  A better way would be to post your photos on flickr and link to them via Vox, if they're that important to you.

In Summary
BlogBackupOnline provides a quick-and-easy means to back up your blog.  I like the ease of signing up and setting up an account.  Tech support was very courteous and quickly responded when I had issues with my backup, and worked to fix the actual bug I discovered, rather than just putting it on a "to-do list" for a future rev of the site. 

While the site DOES say that "backups are free during the beta period" and gives no indication as to when this beta period will end or what the fees will be after that point, it IS a free service for use right now, and does a good job of doing what it is supposed to do.  At the very least, it provides a modicum of protection for your blog in case of catastrophic loss of posts/comments.  I'd recommend anyone without a backup solution in place currently to look into signing up.  It only takes a couple of minutes of your time, and can't hurt you to try it out.  Because really, who wants to lose their posts?

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Comments
  1. Hieronymus says:

    I have thought about doing this in the past, but decided against it. I usually type in my posts offline in my editor, and then just past them into the compose page of Vox, so I have an offline copy of any post that would be even marginally interesting. The only ones that don't make it are most Vox This posts.

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  2. Ross says:

    I probably could do that, too, but I'm not always at the computer I'd want to save my post at, and if I do make edits to the post after the fact, I'd have to do it in two places instead of one.Plus, I do like that the comments are backed up. I know there's been times when I've had conversations start up in the comments on posts I thought were "not worth saving", but the conversations themselves end up being something I wouldn't mind saving.Not saying this is for everyone, but it might suit some people. And it does appear to provide a seamless transition from vox to another blogging system, if someone does decide they've outgrown vox, but want to keep their archive intact.

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  3. Hieronymus says:

    True. I'm lucky in that I do 99% of my typing from a single computer. I also don't care that minor edits would be lost, as I doubt I would ever recreate a blog. The Vox one is my third or fourth blog, and I've never bothered to copy postings onwards.

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  4. mariser says:

    [isto é bom]

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  5. Maggie says:

    thanks Ross! i'm definitely going to use this as I wondered how I might feel if something terrible happened in blogger land (god forbid!)

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  6. enSue says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I really appreciate your detailed review and demonstration. I signed up right away. I used to, and still, use Rssfwd.com as a means to backup written blog entries. However, even this has its limitations, one main problem being that it won't update a recorded feed after an entry has been edited (but that's just the nature of the feed and not the service, I assume).Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't BlogBackupOnline only backup public posts and images, as opposed to all posts and images regardless of privacy filters? I tried to use authentication feeds to get around this without success. (I also have the same problem with Rssfwd.com verifying/accepting authentication feeds from Vox — but it doesn't have a problem verifying/accepting Twitter authentication feeds. Am I right in assuming that it has something to do with the username being an email address [http://username:password@feed]? I even tried appending ?=basic without success.) Have I done something wrong?

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  7. Ross says:

    You're pretty much correct. As far as I know, Vox doesn't provide any mechanism for different RSS feeds for privacy-restricted posts, so any posts marked neighborhood-only, friends only, etc will NOT appear in an RSS feed and will not be backed up by ANY of these backup services. (Just like if you were reading someone's blog only via RSS, you wouldn't ever see those entries, even if you were in their neighborhood.)This is a limitation of Vox, which does not provide for this type of access, while Twitter does. If this bugs you like it does me, why don't you send off a feedback suggestion to Vox asking them to enable RSS feed authentication for privacy-restricted posts, or to create separate RSS feeds for neighbor / friend / family type posts?One other note – if you update a post (after the entry has already reached an RSS feed), your edit should re-post it to the feed (at least it does with my entries when I look via Google Reader). So if you're still not seeing the changes backed up via Rssfwd, that sounds like a limitation of the service, not the feed.

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  8. Oh man, I wish I had this back when I had my old blog. I lost some pretty good stuff on there and wish I still had it. Thanks for the info Ross!

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  9. Ross says:

    Unfortunately, this still doesn't solve the problem of how to back up neighborhood-only posts, but it's a start. If Vox would just provide an "export" feature like SixApart does on their Movable Type product, we wouldn't have a problem…one can always hope they implement something like this and stop us from having to use all these workarounds.

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  10. gamany says:

    thanks a bunch, Ross!

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