Wherein I Accidentally Delete My Own Blog

Recently I moved from a hosted provider to running WordPress on my Synology NAS at home.  It was surprisingly not problematic and all was well… or so I thought.  A few days ago I basically deleted my own blog.  I was fairly upset about it!  All is now right with the world, but it’s pretty easy to do, so here’s what happened and what I learned:

  • I had the Beta Apps enabled on Synology, and I had Auto-Update turned on, so I ended up with beta versions of both WordPress and the MariaDB I use underneath the covers.
  • At some point things went south.  As it turns out, I think it was unrelated – it was probably as easy as repointing Web Station to the right directories, but you know, panic and all, I missed it.  All I know is you couldn’t access any content on my site.

The obvious thing to do at that point is back things up, think rationally, and not move from the most likely culprit until you’re SURE that isn’t it.  I didn’t do any of those things.  Seeing that I had beta versions of the apps installed and figuring I could downgrade them, I turned off beta access, then removed and reinstalled those apps.  Along the way, MariaDB needed my DB password which I couldn’t remember, so I reset it, likely breaking things further.  At this point I figured the damage was done so I got a little bit looser with my thought process.

I backed up everything in the www/wordpress directory, wiped it, and attempted to restore it from backup.  Would that work?  I’m honestly not sure if it’s even plausible but it didn’t!

Around this time I realized the only way I was going to get out of this was to re-import my recently migrated site (only missing one post) and start from scratch.  Except, of course, I’d not preserved the migration file.  Luckily I hadn’t fully deleted it so it was found and reimported and I’m back.

What have I learned?  First of all, even for a low-volume site, I really need a plausibly automated backup running.  It would probably take me 30 minutes to configure.  Second, if you’re pretty sure that something is wrong, even if you’re desperate, don’t do it.  Third, maybe make sure you’re not auto-updating things you care about if you’re not sure your backup strategy is sound!

Migrating hosting to Synology

Hey Crew – the TL;DR here is that I’m now hosting this blog myself at home, which is to say if it’s harder to reach or you find anything broken, let me know.

The details are that if you are paying for hosting on a low-volume blog, you know that the cost/benefit ratio can be a bit skewed – it’s great that I could do all kinds of things but I didn’t need 80% of them, so when my previous host (bluehost – no ill will) decided to deprecate my plan and move me to a tier that would be more expensive I finally got around to migrating elsewhere.  I’ve resisted doing this because if you do it wrong, you can break your blog, ruin your SEO, and find yourself in a good mess.

I use a Synology NAS at home for various things and the best part about it is that when you have a little server on tap, you can find other things to use it for.  There were only a few steps that are mostly covered elsewhere, but I did hit a few issues that I’ll cover here.

The things everyone knows:

The general steps to move things are:

The things nobody told me:

It actually worked pretty well, but there are a few caveats.  The biggest is that my site was too big – the free AiO Migration plugin will only let you import an archive that is 520 megs, max.  Mine was clocking in at 650, so I did a few things:

  • Deleted the 17,000 spam users that my blog had accumulated over the years with the User Spam Remover plugin
  • Delete all the images that were uploaded to my site but not linked to using the DNUI plugin.  I believe these were generated by a previous version of a plugin that pre-rendered a bunch of sizes of images I wasn’t using.
  • Deleted all the themes and plugins I didn’t need.

After all that, the size of the site came down below the max, so I was good to go… except after all was said and done, I realized that somewhere along the way, all previous references to http://www.aribrownest.com… were now links to http://www.aribrownest.com/….  This was the internal IP I’d been using to test things out, but now they were cascaded through the entire site!  I was a bit unhappy to discover this after the cutover and right before I was headed to bed.  Luckily, people have done this once or twice before, so of course, another plugin!  This time I used the Better Search Replace plugin, and just like that, I was done!

Having said all that…

Let me know if you find anything weird.  I’m sure Google will when my SEO tanks, but so it goes.

Not Gone, Not Forgotten

Hey All,

    You might have been wondering “why no new posts”?  Actually I flatter myself – you have better things to do than wonder.  In any case, there is a reason and “busy with other things” is only part of it.  In my never ending quest to be cheap thrifty, I’m moving my blog to a new host.  If I can get a couple last problems figured out, we’ll make it live and I can get back to thinking about pictures, not software.  I have to keep the inner nerd alive and make it happen – databases, .htaccess files, and wordpress installations be damned.  When I get done, maybe I’ll even spruce things up a bit.  I promise you it won’t be too much longer.  Just don’t hold me to that.