Google has just given us another reminder why we should always have an independent backup.
Artist Dennis Cooper has a big problem on his hands: Most of his artwork from the past 14 years just disappeared.
It’s gone because it was kept entirely on his blog, which the experimental author and artist has maintained on the Google-owned platform Blogger since 2002 (Google bought the servicein 2003). At the end of June, Cooper says he discovered he could no longer access his Blogger account and that his blog had been taken offline.
Along with his blog, Google disabled Cooper’s email address, through which most of his correspondence was conducted, he told me via Facebook message. He got no communication from Google about why it decided to kill his email address and blog.
Cooper used the blog to post his fiction, research, and visual art, and as Artforum explains, it was also “a platform through which he engaged almost daily with a community of followers and fellow artists.” His latest GIF novel (as the term suggests, a novel constructed with animated GIFs) was also mostly saved to the blog.
“Of all the things about this that concern and worry me, losing that novel is my greatest fear,” he told Artforum.
I know they're blaming Google here, but the fault really lies with Cooper.
He's the one who didn't back up his blog.
Many people have encountered similar problems when other cloud platforms have shut down in the middle of the night (taking user data with them), been attacked (and lost user data in the attack), or for one reason or another kicked users off of a platform with no warning.
This is a known problem with using online services, and those who don't plan for it only have themselves to blame.
If you haven't backed up your website, you should - and schedule regular backups. You should also test the backup to make sure it works.
For example, if you have a self-hosted WordPress site, you can use any number of plugins and services to make a back up. (I use BackupWP when working on a client's site, and then simply download the backup.)
But if you have a site on Blogger, WordPress.com, or Tumblr, you are in for a world of hurt. None of the three services offer a true backup option; Blogger and WordPress.com will let you export a blog's content as an XML file, but that is less than a complete backup. It doesn't include images, just links to the images. If you don't import that XML file into another site then the images could be lost should anything happen to your site.
And as for Tumblr, your options are even more limited. There's neither an official backup nor export option for Tumblr, just unofficial tools as well as an option to import a Tumblr blog into WordPress.
Weebly, on the other hand, will let you download a backup of your site (instructions). Other hosting services, including Squarespace, do not offer that option.
Since we're all just one accident away from losing important info, I would recommend that you stop using any web hosting service that doesn't offer a way to download a backup of your site and store it elsewhere.
Better safe than sorry.
P.S. If I you have a question about how to create a backup of your site, you can leave a comment or send me an email. I'd be happy to help.
image by Risager