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I don’t normally do social media early in the day, because I feel like it gets me started on the wrong path. However, yesterday, I felt like I needed to do something easy to get going. I logged into Hootsuite and the first I thing I saw was this:
I had already logged into WordPress and nothing seemed amiss in the dashboard. So, I clicked on the link in the tweet. It did, indeed, go to a 404 error page. My first thought was that I had messed up the link somehow when scheduling the tweet. So, I clicked on my logo to go to the home page.
And it was empty. Not completely empty. The slider image was there. The Hello + Welcome widget was there. The separator lines for the other widgets were there. But no posts. And no images. And a lot of blank space.
At this point, I was starting to get truly alarmed (my heart is racing remembering it).
I went back to the WordPress dashboard and clicked on Posts.
This is when my heart leapt into my throat. I was eating breakfast and I literally could not swallow my cereal.
I clicked on Media. Nothing.
I clicked on Pages. Nothing.
I’ve read horror stories about WordPress sites being hacked, so that’s where my mind went. I’ve used WordPress for 10 years with no problems, but the stakes are higher when it’s your business. So instead of trying to troubleshoot this myself, I contacted my hosting provider.
(I also posted about it on Facebook, where my friends talked me down off the ledge. Thanks, y’all!)
While the folks at Simply Hosting were investigating the problem, I started looking at my backup situation. I normally have numerous backup systems in place (I like a redundancy plan).
I have automatic daily backups through my host. These are emailed to one of my Gmail accounts each night. I have a filter set up that automatically whisks these emails into a folder, so that I never see them and they just sit out there on Google’s servers. I verified that they were there, and saw that the latest one was run at 10:37 AM the day before. So, worst case scenario, I would lose day’s work.
I also use UpdraftPlus, which is a plug-in that will backup your site. However, for some inexplicable reason, I had set Updraft to backup manually, rather than automatically. This is not like me and I can’t imagine why I set it up this way. I’ve now updated this to a daily backup of both files and database. Updraft backups go straight to my Dropbox account. Part of my redundancy plan is to have backups housed on different servers.
The awesome guys at Simply Hosting emailed me back and said that they had reviewed their end of things and there had been no attempt to hack my account. The problem was caused because one of my WordPress databases had crashed. They repaired the database and asked me to review the site. If problems persisted, they would restore a backup for me.
I immediately jumped back over to the front-end of my site. Home page, check. Posts, check. Images, check. Pages, check. Everything was back up and running in 90 minutes from the time I discovered the problem.
I did a quick Google search and crashed WordPress databases are not uncommon. There are numerous posts on how to fix them. In my case, I suspect it was caused by a plug-in, because I changed some settings right before logging off the night before.
The moral of today’s story is this:
- If your site goes down or your posts disappear, don’t panic. If you have followed the rest of the steps here, you should be just fine.
- Make sure that you are using a host with a quick response time. I’ve been using Simply Hosting for almost 10 years and I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had to contact them with any kind of problem. They are always lightning fast with a response and a solution.
- Make sure you have multiple, frequent backups of your website.
- Have a redundancy plan in place, where you use more than one backup service and store the backups in different locations.
- Check your backups. Do it now. Are they set up the way you thought they were? If not, this is the time to fix them.
Technical issues happen. It’s just a fact of life. You don’t know when they will happen or exactly what format they will take, so it’s best to be prepared.
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