Sunday, October 30, 2005

Restoring deleted blogs (HOWTO)

As I've learned recently1, it's not unusual to lose a blog or webpage to accidental deletion. The first defense against accidental deletion is to read messages and think before you delete, but, failing that, here are some useful ways to get back what you lost, and to make sure that these techniques work.

Good practices

Save your blog posts
This one's easy to think about, but doesn't always get done. Save your CSS (template) and blog posts (from the post editor, not from the screen; that way, you'll get the formatting too!) as files on your computer. Then, you can easily restore your blog by the trusty copy and paste method.
Use RSS/Atom aggregation
RSS and Atom are protocols that are used by aggregators, software that allows you to read blogs in a centralized place on or offline. You can turn on an Atom feed for your blogger blog by logging in, going to your settings, and finding the “site feed” tab. Change the “Publish Site Feed” setting to “Yes”, and change the “Descriptions” setting to “Full”. The Feed URL will tell you where to point your aggregator. Many free aggregators are available, including one in Mozilla Thunderbird, the popular email client. Aggregating your own blog will give you a local copy of the text of all of your posts. It will not include your CSS/template. For Blogger, it will also not include comments. Other comment providers, such as HaloScan will keep a separate copy of your comments.
Allow search engines to crawl your blog
Search engines keep copies of pages. Some search engines (including Google) allow you to see the copies the search engine uses in their indices. To allow a search engines to crawl your page, make sure your CSS does not contain any
tags with
, or
parameters. This site has a lot more information on how to use meta tags to control how search engines deal with your page. Also, make your blog more likely to be crawled by Google. Set up a site feed as shown above, and, in the Blogger settings, under “Publishing”, answer “Yes” to “Notify”. Under “Archiving”, disabling “Archive Pages” will make sure that Google has a full copy of your blog, but may be annoying to your readers. Enabling “Post pages” may make it easier to retrieve your posts from search engines one-by-one.

Restoration methods

The Google cache
Search for your blog URL (not the name) on Google. Click on the “Google's cache” link. If your blog has been indexed, this is a great way to retrieve your lost template, which may require minimal editing, as all of the Blog software markup will have been changed to X/HTML.
The Internet Archive
If your blog's been around for a long time, the Internet Archive may have a copy. Enter the URL into the “Wayback machine”. This is much less likely to work than Google.
If anyone has RSS or Atom-aggregated your blog to their local computer, they might have local copies of your blog entries. The only way to find out is to ask! A blog post on an accidentally deleted blog might do it.

The best defense against accidental deletion is always a backup!

If this helps you, you think it's unclear, or you have any other methods, place a comment on this post.

1But not from personal experience. :-)

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Thank you so much for your help!
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