January 22, 2008

Orphans and Backups

Filed under: edtech — Candace Hackett Shively @ 10:51 am

Thanks to Vicki Davis for prompting me to write this post.

What do you do about an “orphaned” blog? How about an orphaned wiki? Or the very cool project you and your students made using another web2.0 tool that now seems to have fallen on financial hard times and sits unattended on the web?

I moved my blog from such a place to this comfortable new home a couple of months ago. The symptoms that the parents were no longer there at my old “home”:  no response at all to any “contact tech support” email (of course, this happens at very busy places, too), no recent press releases, and no updates to their WordPress software. The result was that spammers took over. Without software updates to stay ahead of the latest spam tactics, my blog was overrun with Viagra and porn-filled “comments,” clogging the moderation queue to the point that I had to turn off comments on all but the most recent post. Without updated blogging software on my “family” servers, I was unable to add better spam tools or BACK UP my blog. The host site had locked access to do things myself. In the end, I had to walk out the door, leaving all my worldly possessions (posts and comments) behind in a sort of suspended animation (visions of Miss Havisham’s decayed room with cobwebs, lost in time?). My blog was an orphan.

I spent a long time trying to take everything with me, to no avail.

What did I learn? I learned to pay more attention to back-up tools on any potential host site where I plan to “keep” projects, writings, etc. I learned that I should tell other teachers about this, too. We are such trusting souls; we never expect a sudden or prolonged “illness” to take our blog or wiki home away. (The next thing you know someone will start selling blog and wiki insurance…).

If you are not willing to lose what you and your students have created, back it up. Limit your choices to places that allow you to back it up. Or keep draft versions in Word and folders with your images. Even better, keep projects in a place where you can export your hard work to a new home if you need to.

So now my blog has a new name, but you have to visit it’s “birthblog” to see its full heritage. For now, that birthblog is still there, but one of these days it will likely disappear.

1 Comment

  1. Such a great post, I’ve blogged about this. You have done a great service bringing this to all of our attention and discussing this openly. How can we do a full backup of our blogs and not trust our blog provider. Something we should answer.

    Comment by Vicki Davis — January 22, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

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