BlogBackupOnline Update: Techrigy is Developing a Nice Product


As you may have read in my post BlogBackupOnline: Great Idea but not reliable, I did some testing and had some big concerns about this product and the rave reviews it was getting from others.

After corresponding with Aaron from Techrigy and getting good and thorough answers from him, I feel a lot better about BlogBackupOnline. At the end of this post you will find the answers I received from Aaron regarding each item I noted in my previous post.

It is currently beta and acts like a beta release, in other words, it is quirky and has some bugs. But it is definitely far enough along to see that it is going to be very nice and that they are putting a lot of thought and effort into making it a good and stable product.

I got a little worked up mainly because it seemed that people and tech reviews were treating it like a finished product and when I tested it, it clearly was still in beta testing and was not as good (at this point) as they were leading people to believe.

But I am going to recommend that you take a look at it and see what it has and will do. It has some amazing features and is a very ambitious project, especially for being offered for free. Remember that it is still beta, but go get a feel for it and remember it because I think it will set the standard in blog backup sites before very long. I certainly look forward to when it out of beta and will definitely review it again then.

And Aaron very thoroughly addressed everything I had written in my email to Techrigy. I had said that I felt I received a ‘form letter’ reply, but after the weekend, Aaron wrote me a very good email addressing everything I’d found. So I will leave you with a copy of what he wrote so you can read the answers for yourself.

~Susan Mellott

Email Response from Aaron of Techrigy:

I’ve just done some regression tests and put out a patch. I’ll try to address everything you’ve brought up. The patch fixed a few problems:

1 The restoration process was incorrectly counting how many posts it had restored (effectively doubling it) which is why it was only restoring about 27 posts. It’s been fixed so it should properly restore 50 posts now.

2 When the restoration job stops after 50 posts, it was not properly writing a message into the log. I added a warning to the job log when someone attempts to restore more than 50 posts to blogger – “You attempting to restore more than 50 posts to Blogger. Only the first 50 posts will be restored. Successfully restored 50 blog posts.”

3 I added an informational message to the Restoration Wizard: “IMPORTANT NOTE ON RESTORING TO BLOGGER!!! In order to reduce splogs, Blogger will only allow 50 posts per day to be restored. If you are attempting to restore more than 50 posts to Blogger, you will have to use this Restore wizard to restore 50 posts per day until all post have been transfered.”

4 One the Content tab, I moved the pagination to the top of the grid. A handful of people have told me they can not get to the pagination control at the bottom of the screen – I’ve tried every combination of browsers (IE6,IE7, FireFox, Safari, Opera) and operating systems and haven’t been able to recreate it, so I haven’t been able to fix it. Hopefully moving pagination to the grid header will alleviate the problem. Any insight into the browser or configuration you are using that might be causing the problem?

NOTE by me: no idea why the bottom pagination was problematic, but it works just fine now at the top of the list.

5 Removed references to “changed blog posts”. When we read an entry, the white space often changes. For instance, if we read it through the feed versus when we screen scrape, we get some small changes to the content in the white space. We maintain a full history of changes so all versions are maintained so that not copies are ever lost, but these white space issues can confuse people, so I’ve simply taken the reference to them in the job messages out.

Bugs that still need to be addressed:

1 In reference to duplicate entries backup up with http://alongthepathto20.blogspot.com/. If you are using Feedburner combined with Blogger, the backup we collect has duplicate entries. Recently after acquiring Feedburner, Blogger started integrating Feedburner which has caused these hiccups. This problem occurs because we read an entry by screen scraping and get one permalink to the entry, then when we read the feed through feedburner, it’s has a different permalink (your feedburner entries go back through August 3rd which is why the duplicates go back to that date and stop). I’m working on a fix, but it’s not straight forward. To avoid the problem, you can disable the feedburner temporarily, but that not adequate -we’ll have to build a solution as time permits. For now you have duplicate entries – better to have 2 copies than to potential miss some content.

2 Restoring in chronoligical order. Right now it pulls the posts and just restore them in the order they are in the database which is arbitrary. If it restores everything, no problem – they are restored in arbitrary order but doesn’t really matter since they are assigned the appropriate post dates. If you select the entries to restore, no problem – again restored in arbitrary order but it gets to all of them. But when it gets to 50 and stops, its just taken the first 50 it pulled out of the database. Harmless but confusing.

I’ll try to answer your questions as well:

1 it shows how many posts and comments but not how many pictures (and actually, somewhere along the line, it quit reporting comments).

ANSWER – I’ve put this as a feature request to show how many pictures it’s backed up. If it doesn’t report comments or blogs found, that should mean it found zero. I’ll put a feature request as well to change this, since I can see how it would be confusing.

2 It says it is free for now while in beta, but approx how much will 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

ANSWER – We are hoping to offer BlogBackupOnline for free as long as possible. I don’t foresee charging for it anytime soon. It is actually quite expensive to maintain for us, $698 per month hosting cost because it requires raid drives, tape backups, redundant network connections, class A hosting space, etc… in order to ensure the content is truly protected. If we did need to charge, we would likely charge $5-$10 per month. We also develop business products that have nothing to do with BlogBackupOnline. If those are successful, BlogBackupOnline should remain free indefinitely. Of course, many of the features you are request are slow to be implemented because we don’t charge for it which is a good point for offering a paid version.

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)

ANSWER – great feature request. I’ll see if I can implement something like that.

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)

ANSWER – right now it doesn’t restore tags/labels (even from blogger to blogger). That’s been on the feature enhancement list for a while, so I hope to get to that soon.

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.

ANSWER – yes, I agree this is not ideal. I’ll look at various enhancements to replace links to the old website with links to the new website. Probable won’t happen quickly given the complexity.

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.

ANSWER – Your not the first person to encounter this problem. I made an adjustment to the pagination control. I hope that helps.

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 I needed to ‘load blog entries’ but it would be much less confusing if they loaded when I entered that screen.

ANSWER – Yes, I can understand the confusion. If you have a page with many entries, loading when the page opens can be a major head ache, which is why it doesn’t load upon opening the screen. I’ll take another look and determine a better/clearer way to handle.

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.

ANSWER – Great suggestions. I’ll put this on the short list – shouldn’t be to complicated to add but I couldn’t get to this weekend.

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

ANSWER – Yes, WordPress can import those. We are limited to using the APIs like Metaweblogs which doesn’t expose these capabilities. I’ll look at other features time permitting, but I’m afraid without major rework its still quite difficult. Perhaps WordPress 2.3 (just released) has some capabilities built into the API these days.

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?

ANSWER – The export file is not designed to be imported into WordPress directly. Its XML, so anyone could write an XSLT to convert it into whatever format they needed. For now, its simply a backup copy for your own piece of mind. Worst case scenario you will always have the content that can be imported if need be. We are working on an import.

11 and if so, why not the comments as comments?

ANSWER – good suggestion. We should write comments as their own nodes. But we just havent gotten around to it yet.

12 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)

ANSWER – Yes, absolutely. BlogBackupOnline is like a copier machine. I could take a Picasso down to Kinko’s and copy it and put it on my wall at home -but it doesn’t make it a Picasso ūüėČ We discourage this and respond promptly to any DCMA notices – but technically we can’t prevent it. It hasn’t been a problem so far and we hope it won’t.

I hope this helps. Since you’ve beat me up pretty good in public, I’ll take it you don’t like the product even as a free public service. That’s your right. But honestly, BlogBackupOnline is by far the most full feature, documented blog backup system out there. It require no software and even gives you the storage for free, and works with more platforms than any other solutions. It backs up the blog posts, the comment, and the images linked to from you blog. It’s automated to run daily backups – you set it up and forget it until you need it. All for free.

Yes, you encountered some bugs with restoring which is my fault – Iapologize and hope we corrected it. And I realize some of the content you backed up was very confusing because it got duplicate entries. I’ll keep trying to make it more logical and polished. But I’ll stressed, every blog you enter was (and continues to be with no effort by you) 100% backed up. All your content is safe from loss at this point. Restoration is not perfect, but it works the best it can given the limitations of Blogger. Again it was very confusing in your situation, and I’m sorry for that again.

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