CAUTION! Don't Upgrade That Drupal or WordPress Site Quite Yet!

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Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:47 -- jenn

One of the strong upsides to using Drupal or WordPress for your website, is the fact that an open source community is constantly tinkering away, making the platform better and more secure.  Keeping up with core updates and module or plug-in updates is important.  Updates for both of these platforms come out fairly frequently and with a little knowledge can be completed fairly easily...assuming nothing goes wrong.  If you're in the tech industry and work with websites or code, you know the cardinal rule is to backup your site before you begin.  This means backing up both your website files and your database.

Recently, Bluehost, a website hosting provider we use, sent one of our WordPress 3.3.1 clients an email.  This client opted not to sign up for our maintenance plan.  The email told the client that she should upgrade for security purposes and that it was as easy as clicking a link!  There was nothing in the email that eluded to backing up the site first.  Just simply click the link and your site will be all updated for you.  Automagically!  Normally, this would be the case.  For whatever reason (some say it's the new Mojo Marketplace), things went really, really wrong.  The site was not updated, but instead was overwritten with a brand new 3.8.2 site.  All of the data from the original site was just gone and she was left staring at a sign in screen for a blank WordPress site.  She couldn't even log in with her account information as that was all gone too.  She was sent an email congratulating her on her new WordPress site and offered her new login information.  As you can imagine, she called us in a panic.

Something clients may not expect, is that there is often no guarantee that a hosting company will have back-ups of your site.  Bluehost claims in their SLA that they backup weekly and monthly, but they also state that they do not guarantee that data.  We had a backup of our client's site, however, it was a 2 year old copy from when they first launched.  In a situation like this, it's better than nothing, but a lot of accumulated data that they have entered over the past two years was missing.  We immediately contacted Bluehost on our client's behalf.  Three different Bluehost representatives explained to us that while they might have backups of the site, those backups are not currently mounted (meaning, accessible to the reps).  Working with our files and what Bluehost could access, we managed to restore 90% of the site.  There are a large number of images missing that we may be able to get from Bluehost in the coming weeks, but again, there is no guarantee.  

The moral of the story is, DO keep your site updated and secure, but before you click that link, make sure that you have backed up your site!  If you don't know how to do this, JLB can help for a minimal fee.  Having a back up means, that if things go sideways, you'll be able to recover your site exactly how it was before you started the upgrade. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS MAKE A BACKUP OF YOUR WEBSITE FILES AND YOUR DATABASE before performing any site maintenance.