BlogBackupOnline: Great Idea but NOT Reliable!


In my last post – “Google Blogger Tip: How to Backup Your Blogger Blog“, I talked about two ways I had found to backup a Google Blogger blog since it does not have a backup capability built in.

One involved using a WordPress blog to backup it up to since WordPress will import almost everything (posts, comments, pictures) from many blog engines and export posts/comments to a file. That will only give you a full restore though, you can’t selectively restore posts. Another was to download a free program called Blogger Backup on CodePlex that gives you a basic backup of your posts and will allow you to backup and restore your posts, both to your original Blogger blog or to a new Blogger blog (but not your comments, pictures or categories)

But in looking around and reading other posts, I thought I had found an even better way to backup your Google Blogger Blog (or any other blog). PC World named it as one of the 25 Web Sites to Watch and several blog posts were written favorably about it such as this post from WebWare or this post from Download Squad.

What it is is an online site called BlogBackupOnline that allows you backup a variety of blog types and you can set it to do a full backup the first time and then daily backups. It also backs up images such as various picture formats that you have on that site and they plan to add support for videos as well. It also backs up and restores comments, although it puts the comments on the end of each post they belong to as part of the post. Still, that is better than Blogger Backup at this point. You can do a full restore or you can choose posts to restore.

BlogBackupOnline supports Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, Friendster, LiveJournal, Serendipity, Windows Live Space, Movable Type, Terapad, and Vox. And they will be adding support for more platforms soon. NOTE: I guess they mean to run a backup against since it only gives Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal or Windows Live Spaces as options to restore to.

You get 50meg of space free to backup your data. As an example of what that holds, I have backed up this blog up to this point using it and I had 80 posts, 41 comments and some number of images (they don’t report the number of images you have stored) and I used 989 kb which is approximately 1 meg.

It has a very good and complete help and here’s a link to small PDF file brochure for it. Everything about this program is very professional looking.

Sounds great so far, doesn’t it? That is what I thought and I tried it and was impressed with how easy it was and how nicely it was done. That is, until I really started looked at what happened with my backups and restores. Because they didn’t work right and that is really what it is all about, regardless of what bells and whistles something does or doesn’t have.

My backups and restores were so wonky that I thought I must have done something wrong. So I re-tried it, backing up a different blog and restoring it to a different blog engine and it still was all messed up. I honestly can’t figure out why it is so messed up. I keep wanting to blame myself because surely it can’t be that flakey. But even if I did something that caused it to flake out, I was being very careful and if it is that touchy (and on more than 1 occasion) then you still certainly can’t count on it.

Here’s what happened. The first time, I did a full backup on my WordPress blog clear.bluedei.com which had (according to blogbackuponline) 80 posts and 41 comments. Then I restored it in full to a Blogger blog (blog.bluedei.com). It restored only about 27 of my posts. The restored posts seemed random too, some from Sept, some from August and some from July.

I had used another blogger backup program and it said that there was a Blogger limit of 50 posts per day that could be put on blogger so I was wondering what BlogBackupOnline would do. I was surprised that it reported that my restore was successful and that nowhere did it say that not all my posts were restored, not even in the log which said ‘finished with no error’. And I thought that at least I would have 50 posts restored and was surprised at only 27ish and random at that. I didn’t even realize I didn’t get a full restore until I really looked, since it appeared to have backed up everything OK.

I wrote to the Techrigy support about this (and several other comments that I’ve posted at the end of this blog) and did not get much of a response (“Sorry you experienced these problems. We are looking at the issues and will let you when we figure out what caused the problems you encountered. Thanks for trying out BlogBackupOnline”). I had written a pretty detailed email and to be honest, this just sounded like a generic response that didn’t lead me to believe they had even read my email. Maybe I’m cynical, but that’s what I thought.

I thought I would try it again and backup my Along the Path to 2.0 Blogger blog and then restore it to my blog.bluedei.com Blogger blog and my testxx.wordpress.com WordPress blog. I set up the testxx blog to use for testing this specifically and the blog.cleardei.com blog was used for testing the different blog engines in the post series I wrote.

I ran a full backup of Alongthepathto20 and it reported 84 blog entries (with 1 changed, not sure what that meant) and cut off before it said the number of comments (or maybe was saying there were none). Now this was more blog entries than I had so that seemed suspicious right off the bat. Then it shows that it ran another full backup right after this one (although I only ran 1) and all it said was the number of changed entries was 4 (whatever that meant, I wasn’t changing anything on that blog). Both reported they finished with no errors.

Then I went to the content page for this blog (you can see about the latest 10 posts it backed up) and there were duplicates for each post I could see. So I restored the full backup to my blogger blog.bluedei.com and my wordpress testxx.wordpress.com. Both reported Finished with No Error. They had no posts before I ran the restore. You can see the results of each restore and compare it to the originally backed up alongthepathto20.blogspot.com by looking at each blog.

As you can see, the blogger blog only restored a random part of the posts (and actually about 27 again). The wordpress blog restored everything it backed up (all 84) and the posts were duplicated back to the August 3rd post (literary insults) and then the posts appeared OK (just one of each).

So what in the heck is it doing? And would you trust this to backup and restore your data? It confused me so much that I was tempted to run another test to see if I could figure out what was going on. But I’ve spent hours on this already and really don’t have the time to keep repeating the tests. Especially since I don’t get paid to do it!

And I didn’t even do any testing of the daily backups that it runs after you’ve run a full backup.

These are some other comments I had written to techrigy about the product when I first looked at it. I could add more to the list now but I won’t. I’ve spent too much time on this already.

  1. it shows how many posts and comments but not how many pictures (and actually, somewhere along the line, it quit reporting comments).
  2. it says it is free for now while in beta, but approx how muchwill it cost in the future? I could not find a price on any ofthe products you offer, they all said to contact sales which makes me think it must be expensive
  3. it would be nice to be able to restore from and to a certain date, especially with the 50 post limitation in Blogger (and possibly in other blog engines)
  4. it didn’t restore my tags/labels and I wonder if it would have if I was going blogger to blogger or any of the same type. (the answer was no after I tried it)
  5. my social networking and bookmarks icons on bottom of each post copied over and works, but points to my original blog. I can understand why, but it does still create a problem.
  6. when I click on content for my blog, I only see the last 10
    posts and there is no way to scroll down through my earlier
    posts.
  7. it is confusing on the restore screen when it shows nothing in the box on the ‘what entries do you want to restore’ screen. It seems like there is nothing to restore. I figured out that Ineeded to ‘load blog entries’ but it would be much less confusing if they loaded when I entered that screen.
  8. on the ‘what entries do you want to restore’ screen, it would be useful if there is a limit on a blog engine as to how many posts can be restored each day, to state that on the page and to give an error if more than that number of posts were selected.
  9. the restore screen says NOTE: The major blog platforms do not support restoring comments. The comments we have backed up will be added to the end of the post’s text. But WordPress imports posts, comments, custom fields, pages, and categories from a WordPress export file and posts, comments, and users from a Blogger blog and posts and comments from a Movable Type or Typepad blog
  10. the export tab lets me export my backup to a file on my hard drive. But what can I do with this file when I have it if I want to restore from it? will WordPress import it? and if so, why not the comments as comments?
  11. Since there is no name/password required to backup a blog, I believe you could essentially backup almost anyone’s blog (or certain posts) and restore them to your own blog. (I think you could do this with other backup tools also since they use the public RSS feeds)

There you have it. That was the results of my basic testing of this product. You decide if you’d want to trust your backups and restores to it. I can definitely say that based on my testing, I wouldn’t.

UPDATE 10/4/2007: I have since gotten a very good and thorough reply from Techrigy and I feel that their product will be very good when finished. I was more upset about people writing as though their product was fully functional now, than about the quality of their product when finished. For their responses to all my questions and concerns, see this post update of mine dated 10/04/2007.

~Susan Mellott

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