Well that was a fiasco.
The plan was to upgrade WordPress – my blogging platform – because I wanted the latest version, primarily for security reasons. And also because if you’re current, you get new features and add-ons. And also because my trackback feature had broken and I hoped an upgrade might fix it.
I was already several versions behind because every time I planned to upgrade, I chickened out at the last minute.
I spent much of Sunday doing backups, because you should always back up your files before messing with stuff. There were several places I could do backups: from the admin part of my blog, from my web host’s site control panel, from Fantastico, and from my good old familiar FTP software.
You can never be too safe, so I performed all four backups several times each. Because I’m paranoid. And also because I was procrastinating about that fateful moment when I would push the critical button, because I had a Very Bad Feeling about how this was going to go.
In the process, I discovered a flaw in FTP: it won’t display or download more than 2,000 files in any directory. I had 3,000 files in my WP-content directory.
I spent hours downloading and testing other FTP programs, all of which shared this same flaw, so finally I FTP’d my files using filters, one letter at a time through the alphabet.
It felt so primitive.
Then I procrastinated some more because of the Very Bad Feeling. (The problem with gut feelings like that is you don’t know whether you’re being paranoid or psychic.)
Finally I drank two glasses of shiraz, threw caution to the wind, and pushed the stupid button.
Seconds later, Fastastico, the auto-installer, cheerfully told me the upgrade was complete.
“Wow,” I said, “that was easy.”
A little too easy.
I hit the refresh button on my blog, and instead of seeing my friendly sheep peering down at me, I saw an ugly error message about some fatal error with Tag Warrior. (Tag Warrior is a blog plugin.)
Fastastico then provided me with a list of eight simple steps for restoring my blog.
Most of the steps involved deleting all remnants of my blog. This didn’t feel good. The sixth step was to empty all my databases. That made me queasy.
The seventh step was to import my backup.sql file from my hard drive into my blog’s database using phpMyAdmin, which lives on the server.
It chugged along for a bit before it failed.
It said my backup file was too large. I checked the documentation: it was four times larger than the program could handle. (What kind of idiot program lets you create a backup it can’t use and then doesn’t even warn you??)
On Monday I opened a support ticket with my web host, which they ignored.
I tried a few things. None of them worked. I began to despair of ever finding a solution. I began to wonder if my backups were corrupt or incomplete. I began to wonder if my 800+ blog posts were gone forever. I began to question whether I would just throw in the blogging towel if that were the case, or if I’d start over again.
Throughout all this, I was having unrelated technical difficulties at work and on the Mac (it kept dropping its wireless connection to the internet via my PC and then piggy-backing itself onto my neighbour’s really slow network.) I was getting cranky.
But also throughout it all, people kept sending me messages of encouragement, jokes, links, poetry, pictures, videos, suggestions and offers of help. It kept me sane and I thank you for that. You guys are the best, and I’m not just saying that either.
On Tuesday night I finally picked up the phone and called my web host in wherever they are and spoke to a real live human being named Carl. He was friendly and helpful and competent and within 20 minutes he’d imported my backup.sql file and performed step 8 for me. Bells rang and flags flew and fireworks went off and people danced in the streets and my sheep came frolicking back into view and peered down at me!
I was giddy with relief. I told Carl I loved him. Today I even phoned his boss and told him how wonderful Carl was.
- Time is elastic. Two days can seem like four when something that matters to you is in peril.
- You should deactivate all your plugins before you attempt to upgrade your blog.
- You should keep up to date with your blog upgrades, so that automated upgrades won’t fail. If you wait until you’re many versions behind, you’ll have to do it manually.
- You should always have a backup, a Plan B, some good friends, nerves of steel, and plenty of wine on hand.
That’s my advice to you. As for me, I will never ever attempt to upgrade my blog again. I’ll just leave well enough alone and if it ain’t broke, I won’t be trying to fix it.
But I do wish I had the latest version.