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Webs restored, lessoned learned

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Published: 2003-08-22T23:16:27-05:00


Webs restored, lessoned learned


The past week has been a nightmare for several of my sites. On Friday, shortly after noon (when the power came back on) I checked some of my web sites, including this one, only to find that I had moved one month into the past! That's right, then most recent entries showing were from July 18th, across several sites on the same host. Not only that, two of my domains were not forwarding properly, and my CGIs would no longer execute, including Movable Type. At first, I thought this was related to the power outage - not so. My host, Hypermart, based on the west coast, had a prescheduled server platform migration planned for August 14 (since they were recently acquired by another company). By the way, I came up with a good way to prevent users from getting too many 404 not found errors during this time frame. In a custom 404 error page, I includeed only the following: <script> location=""+location.href; </script> This redirected the user to the Google cache version of the page. It worked quite well for the few days that those pages were missing. A few times in the past, as I upgraded hosting plans they told me they were moving my site to different servers - this happened smoothly, I never even noticed. This migration, however, was terrible. It's hard to believe that such a large hosting company could screw up that badly....but they did. And because the sites in question are all powered by Movable Type, I didn't have a copy of the files on my computer (since MT generates the files on the server-side, there is no need to FTP). Not only that, the new platform seems to use a different version of the Berkeley DB and even when I figure out how to get my CGIs to run on the new platform, I still can't login to MT. I found some good advice in the MT documentation about how to upgrade the DB, but my host had also disabled shell access as part of the migration. Their Technical Support people were no help at all. Then, all Hypermart-hosted sites, including their home page, slow to crawl, and then became inaccessible. Finally they decided to revert to the former hosting platform. Ironically, this setback was great for me, as I could finally access the up-to-date version of my site. Wasting no time, this is what I did: 1) Logged onto MT. 2) Using the Export function, I exported the entries from each of my blogs. 3) I copied an pasted each of the custom templates from each of my blogs, making sure to note the names opf the output files, etc. 4) I copied the email notification list for each of my blogs. 5) I tool screen snaps of each screen of my preferences for each blog. 6) I then had all then information to recreate my blogs from scratch. 7) I then downloaded version 2.64 of Movable Type and did a clean installation. This time I went with the MySQL version of the install, figuring that it must be easier to port to other hosting platforms that the Berkeley DB. After this experience, I highly recommend people to use MySQL for MT - it may save you some headaches in the future. 8) I then recreated each blog and imported the entries. Since I use the entry titles for my individual entry archives, I was able to recreate the exact URLs, so permalinks and search engine links would continue to function. (if you use the default "000123.html" schema for archives, you are likely to end up with different URLs for your entries, especially if you are migrating multiple blogs from the same MT installation) 9) I copied and pasted my custom templates into each of my blogs, and set my preferences in the same manner as before. 10) I then rebuilt each of the blogs, and everything was restored. Not that painful. Of course the main lesson that I learned was one that I should have known to begin with. ALWAY BACK UP YOUR SITE! No matter how large or competent your host may appear to be, always back up you your site regularly, especially if they tell you that are upgrading or migrating platforms or servers. Anyway, I'm back online and it feels good. Onwards and Upwards![...]