Podcast Episode

493 – You Need a Backup Strategy


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Auto Cart Update On Quantity Change will allow your cart page to automatically refresh when the quantity field has been changed.

You Need a Backup Strategy

The last 10 days have been a bit of a nightmare.

I woke up on July 4th to a computer that didn’t work and I wasn’t able to turn it on.

I typically have three backup solutions in place:

  • Apple’s Time Machine
  • Carbon Copy Cloner
  • Backblaze

But since this was a new computer I didn’t have a bootable backup of any of these. I didn’t lose any data, but it took a really long time to reconfigure a machine to be efficient for me to work on.

I purchased this SanDisk hard drive and it’s awesome! It took 4 minutes to transfer 100GB to my mac

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about why having backups is so, so very important. Right here on Your Website Engineer Podcast Episode No. 493.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and I’m excited to be here with you today because I’ve got a story to tell you, and we’ll get to that in just a couple minutes.

I have a few announcements that I want to share with you, and then, we will talk about a plugin. And then, we’ll get to my story. All right. The first thing up in the news that I found this week is there is a new thing, a new plugin called Admin 2020. It reimagines the WordPress Admin Media Library. This is an article found on the WP Tavern and there is a link in the show notes to it. But basically, it is a new beautification of the Admin panel of the dashboard of WordPress, and there is a demo that you can go and it’s got a username and password that you can log in. And it is really cool.

The design is built on top of a UI Kit. It’s a lightweight UI framework that has a softer, rounder look to it, and you can switch between light and dark. And I went in, and I was instantly hooked. It just looks so very cool, and it was something like, let me pursue and let me see what I can see and what I can do, and how this looks with some of the other plugins on the WordPress repository. Well, it turns out it’s not a free plugin on the WordPress repository, it is a paid plugin that you can get started with for a single site for $15.00 for up to a year, for the first year of updates and support. And then for unlimited sites, it’s $100.00.

And so, all options have a 14-day money back guarantee, if you’re interested. But it is a neat way – there is a video, too, on the home page. It’s admin twenty twenty – with the word twenty twenty spelled out – dot com. And you can find out more there. And again, there’s links in the show notes where you can get to it and take a look. And this could be potentially, maybe a new UI, a new way to see the WordPress dashboard. I think it’s really exciting and a good take on, in upgrading something that probably came out with, I believe, it was in the 3.0 version area. Sometime before 4.0 is when we got the dashboard that we currently know and love. And so, this could be something that happens in 2020. All right. So that’s the first announcement.

The second announcement is super, super, super, super, super exciting. It is, after 11 years, users will be able to update themes and plugins via a ZIP file. Have you ever had a plugin or had to restore, or you already have the plugin installed and you can’t upload a file unless you delete the plugin first? This happens all the time in WooCommerce support. That’s why I’m so excited about it, because they have a version that’s already installed. Maybe it’s version 2.0, and 2.0 broke a lot of things. And they want to roll back to version 1.9. Well, in order for them to do that, they have to deactivate and uninstall the 2.0 version.

And then, they have to go and upload the 1.9 version. Now, well, when it lands here in WordPress 5.5, which is coming soon, you can upload a ZIP file, and it will automatically overwrite whatever is there. It is so cool, and I’m really excited to see this. And then that way, we don’t have to explain all the steps of how to uninstall a plugin, and no, you won’t lose any changes, and yada, yada, yada. You can just – here’s the fixed version. Upload it and then, you should be good to go.

Another announcement that I found this week is – I don't know – this one is not very exciting, and it’s kind of a bummer, I guess. And it is WordCamp Europe now is going virtual for 2021. That’s like one year from now. They will schedule to resume an in-person conference in 2022. It’s like oh, man. We thought the whole everything, all our travel plans were canceled in 2020. Oh, 2021’s gonna be better. And they have already canceled WordCamp Europe. And so, the planned dates are June 3 through 5, 2021. And so, I don't know if it’s just because of the COVID-19 or if people are coming from all over, they don’t want people in a tight proximity. And it is a social outlet that they are very disappointed about, but they’ve made that discussion, and it’s happened.

It’s probably a good thing so that you’re not trying to find venues that are gonna be available at that time and whatnot. So anyway, that’s another thing that’s happening in the WordPress space. So I would expect seeing most of the WordCamps from the first half of the year going online or just being canceled next year, as well.

And then lastly, I was a guest over on the Get Options Podcast. It was Episode No. 134. Adam and I had some fun, and talked about – some of the questions were, what do you do if you’ve been let go? How do you manage that? And then, I shared some of the upcoming things that I’m listening to, and watching and reading, and things like that. So, that is the announcements for the week.

Now, moving on into Is there a plugin for that? Section. There is a plugin for that. There always is a plugin for that. Well, not always, but most of the time. And this one is called Auto Cart Update on Quantity Change. And this is a new plugin out there. And it is one that if you have a WooCommerce site, normally what happens is you can adjust the quantity inside of the cart. And then, you have to hit the “Update Cart” button for everything to refresh. This button, all it does is does an ajax refresh when you change that number from one to two, or two to three, or three to one, and it automatically refreshes and you don’t have to hit the update button. That’s all it is. And it’s a super simple plugin, but it is cool.

And so, I recommend if you have that need, or you want that to be added to your store feature, head on over and look for Auto Cart Update on Quantity Change in the WordPress repository or just head on over to YourWebsiteEngineer.com/493.

All right. Today, let’s talk about backups. And I’m talking about backups of your physical hardware. And this comes to you from a little experience that I had when on July 4th weekend, we were up at my parents’ for the weekend, celebrating and just having a good time. My parents have a pool, so we were outside in the pool all weekend. And on Saturday morning, I get up and go to turn my computer on, and it wouldn’t turn on. Like black screen, nothing. When you plug it in, it made the little sound that it makes when you plug in a computer or plug in an iPhone, and that’s all it did. And I did Google searches on my wife’s computer. I chatted with tech support. And I was able to, luckily, get an appointment at the Genius Bar on Monday. So this is Saturday.

So I didn’t have anything the weekend. I was like well, it’s okay. I guess I can just celebrate this weekend by not doing any work. And granted, I’m trying to get a site launched for my wife. My wife was having an upcoming conference. There were things I needed to do, and it was just like well, I can do what I can, but somebody else’s computer is not set up exactly like yours. I’ve got keyboard shortcuts. I type in Dvorak. I use Karabiner, which is an app for the Mac store, or my Mac that allows me to turn the caps lock key into a modifier key. So caps lock, and then if I hit the “h” key, it will actually be a backspace. And it works really well, and I’ve got so much muscle memory that every computer that I try to use, I try to use that. And I just get frustrated because the caps lock turns on.

So, this is a brand-new machine. I got a brand-new MacBook Pro, it was actually in the last week of May, I think. So I’ve only had it about a month. And so, it was like oh, man. So I took it to the Apple Store. Apple Sore told me, indeed, it was confirmed, they couldn’t get it to turn on. And so they needed to ship it out. It will be gone five to seven business days. This is on a Monday. What am I gonna do for an entire week? I would really have liked to just sit around twiddle my thumbs, and not go to work. But I’ve got things to do and work, and I’ve got people to help with WooCommerce, and I’ve got my wife’s site to set up and whatnot. And so, I’ve got to get a setup that is somewhat functioning.

And so, I still had an old MacBook Pro sitting around that I was able to restore some things. I got it to the bare minimum working version. It’s been a big pain in the rear to even work with this machine, but I got it to a point where I could actually function and do my weekly work, which was okay. That was a good thing. I could sign in to work. I could do what I needed to. It wasn’t the most efficient use of my time most of the time, and a lot of hacks to work around, but whatever. So I finally got my computer back. I’m getting it all ready to set up, but I wanted to tell you a little bit about a backup, and some of the strategies that I have employed, and the ones that worked, and what didn’t work and whatnot.

So normally with my Mac, I have three backups going. I’ve got Time Machine, which is a backup that automatically backs up everything that’s on your computer to a hard drive that’s here at my house. And I’ve had to restore from a Time Machine backup once before. You restore from Time Machine backup, your computer is exactly the way it was before. So if I bought a brand-new computer, I could restore from a Time Machine backup. My computer would be set up exactly the way it was. Well, this was a brand-new machine, and I didn’t have any Time Machine backups because the Time Machine capsule was full, because Time Machine is not smart enough to know that hey, this is the same machine, you just continue backing up. It was a new machine with a new ID or whatnot. So I had no Time Machine backup.

I had a Carbon Copy Cloner backup from a month ago. So I backed up my old computer to the Carbon Copy Cloner, and I had all of the data. And I had never tested this to see if this was a bootable drive. And it was not a bootable drive. Had that been a bootable drive, I could have just plugged in the hard drive and booted from that, and then continued to work. And it would have just been like all my files would have been a month old, but all of my settings, all of my configurations, all of my everything would have been set up properly, which would have been a good solution as well.

And then, I also have Backblaze, and Backblaze is a place where it backs up all my files. It backs up everything. But I wasn’t sure if I could back up and restore all of the settings and whatnot. Backblaze is pretty cool in the fact that it will back everything up, and then if you want all of the files, you can – I think it’s for $89.00 - $89.99, they will send you a hard drive with all of your data. And then, once you take all the data off, you can send it back to them. And then, you can get your $89.00 back. So I could have done that. But then again, it’s like do I set up this test machine I’m only gonna have for a week? What’s going on?

So like we’ve talked the last couple episodes, I talked about how I’ve customized VS Code. So when I installed VS Code on a backup computer, none of those customizations were there. And none of the customizations were done, like I use Tampermonkey, which is a script – or it’s a browser extension that you can add to add scripts to different websites. And we use this all the time for work. But none of those sync from platform to platform. They don’t sync, and so I didn’t have a copy of those because on my last computer, I just had exported them and then put them onto my new computer, and then deleted them. I didn’t have an export to them.

So I did all of the things wrong. For somebody who had very good systems of setting up, and for years, I’ve always had multiple copies on my website, and multiple copies on my computer, and I’ve never had an issue. Well, now I’ve had an issue, and I was to the point where I wasn’t set up properly. So the lesson learned here and the thing that I want to just highlight today is if you don’t have any type of backup system at all, the easiest, the fastest, if you’re sitting at your computer right now, go to Backblaze.com and you can sign up for a 14-day free trial, and then it converts. I think it’s $4.00 - $5.00 per month. That’s what it was when I signed up. I have two accounts, one for my wife’s computer and one for my computer.

And I think I pay $3.00 or $4.00 per month. I pay two years at a time. And so I don't have to worry about them. But I know that every machine that I have is running Backblaze and it’s backing up data to the cloud. In a catastrophe, you could get it back. It would just take a little while to get it back.

If you’ve got a couple hard drives sitting around, or at least one, I would probably do a Carbon Copy Cloner Clone. And do that at least maybe once a month. My friend, Adam – and I am gonna copy this – is doing one every Friday. So you just plug the drive in. I ended up, I went and I bought a SanDisk – I’ll put a link in the Share Notes of what it is. I got a SanDisk 1 terabyte-size drive. And so my hard drive is 1 terabyte. This SSD, it’s little, I mean it is smaller than my phone, about half the size of my phone. And it plugs in. It doesn’t take any power. It transfers files like crazy, and it’s got USB-C to USB-C. So I’m gonna connect this to the underside of my desk, actually, and plug it into my hub. I’ve got a hub that allows me to hook up ethernet and USB-C and my monitor, and all that good stuff. And I’m gonna connect that underneath my desk.

And then on Fridays, I’m gonna have my computer at 4:00 in the morning wake up. It’s going to do a Carbon Copy Cloner, and then it is going to set up and make sure that my hard drive is cloned every single week. So if worst case, I’m only out one weeks’ worth of data. And most of the time through a normal week, it’s just the stuff that’s in the downloads folder. And I have the desktop and I have the documents folder all synced with iCloud. So all of that stuff came back just lickety-split. It’s just the stuff that are in other folders that I didn’t have access to, and now I have to drag them off.

Another flaw with my backup system was I backed up my old computer a month and a half ago, and then when I got to my new computer, I’m like, I don't want all of the stuff on my hard drive. Let’s move it to the Synology, which is my hard drive that I have in my basement that keeps all of my archive files. And so now I have stuff that’s on the little mini hard drive, which is the clone of my old machine. And now I have to figure out okay, what did I put on the Synology? What needs to come off there? It’s just gonna be a big pain and a big mess. So that’s what’s happening. So I’m gonna have Time Machine. I’m gonna get that setup back today. And then, I’m gonna get Carbon Copy Cloner. Once I’m happy with the configuration of this new computer, I’m gonna wipe the little SSD completely clean, the little SSD hard drive.

And then, I’m going to start cloning it and do that on a weekly basis. And then, I’m gonna make sure that Time Machine is backed up as well. I’m gonna make sure that, that’s all set up and Backblaze is running on this machine, as well. And if anything should happen again, if my computer dies again, which I would hope it wouldn’t because it’s got brand-new parts inside, that everything should be okay – that all I have to do is go and get this drive, plug it into a different computer and boot to it. And then, I can continue on with my day. It’s just with all the custom settings and configurations in different things, and test sites.

All my test sites now I have to set up and I have to import the database. So I have to go to the live site and download the database, and then import it onto my test site locally on my computer. And then rename the database. And then bring in all the files. And there’s a lot of steps, and I got the computer back on Monday night. I’ve probably spent like four or five hours just getting it back to the point. I think I have like 15 more applications to install and configure at this point. And it’s just like oh, man. If I had a good backup, I wouldn’t be doing all this stuff.

So that’s what my tip is today, nothing WordPress-related in any way, shape, or form. But go and spend some time creating some sort of backup for your machine so if this ever happens to you, you don’t have to struggle like I did for a week and a half without having one of the most connected devices that I have. I have an iPhone. I barely use it throughout the day because I’m in front of my computer, and I can use my Mac so much more efficiently. I can do things much quicker. And so it’s like oh, I’m missing a piece of me, almost. Glad to have it back, though. And so next week, we’ll talk more about WordPress things and what’s happening in the WordPress space.

Until then, take care, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye.