BBO is a new online service provider that intends to give the 70 million or so blog owners out there a little peace of mind by backing up all their content. I heard about it weeks ago, but just got around to trying it this evening because I had assumed it was going to take a little work. Well, that assumption was very, very wrong.
The good news is that the service shows a lot of promise. The bad news is that it doesn’t work on One Man’s Blog or the HTMLHelp Blog.
Setting up the service doesn’t require much more than creating an account and entering your URL. Anyone can get started in under 5 minutes, guaranteed.
As I tested the service I noticed some Pros and a few significant Cons. Here are the Cliff notes. For more detail, see below:
- So easy your Grandmother could set it up.
- Nicely organized dashboard and management interface.
- The system interface is very speedy and responsive.
- The service didn’t work on this blog (or the HTMLHelp Blog). I have 627 posts and 1,332 comments, but BBO only found 615 posts and gives no count on the comments but I can tell they are way, way off from a few of the posts (it lists 15 where there should be 100).
- The service appears to have only grabbed the teaser for each blog entry as opposed to the entire content. It also entirely missed all of the images.
- Limited to only 50MB of backup space, and only stores images – no other media (MP3, PDF, AVI, KMZ, etc.) Though, even the images didn’t work for me.
As I said before, I really do think this service has potential, so I’m sorry this next section is going to come out so negative. But you guys know that I tell it like I see it in the hopes that open, honest constructive criticism will go directly into product improvement.
First of all, it should be noted that I’m running a standard virtually un-modded version of WordPress with my own self-developed standard’s compliant theme. I, like many, many other people run my RSS feed through Feedburner. I’m not aware of any issues with the setup which would cause incompatibility problems with the backup service, and indeed everything is working with all other readers (as far as I know).
Before we get started, a few minor annoyances:
- If you leave the site and come back it doesn’t remember you. You must log in again.
- The Learn More page is a PDF file. Why?
- Although they have forums, they are not even linked to from the admin interface (only the HOME page), and are clearly not being used or updated. That makes the only means of assistance an e-mail address.
- Once you are logged in, there is no link back to the HOME page. Not that there is much there, but this is poor design and it prevented me from easily being able to trace my steps, access the forums, etc.
And now for some stream-of-consciousness commentary.
Although BlogBackupOnline claims to support WordPress, it clearly isn’t working with 2 different blogs for me. Perhaps they only mean it works with the hosted WordPress.com accounts and not WordPress based independent blogs, but since they don’t say that explicitly I assume it’s supposed to work with stand-along installs.
For some reason BBO only downloaded the first couple hundred characters of each blog post. Now this is the way I’ve got my RSS feed set up because I do not have full posts enabled, but that would only account for the first 20 articles being truncated, not 600+. Anyway, the documentation claims they’ll crawl the site as opposed to relying on the RSS feed, so all of this should be irrelevant.
I only spot checked a few pages, but I have articles with 50-100 comments on them and the service definitely didn’t capture all of those comments.
50 MB of backup space is not going to cut it for a fairly large blog like this one. If each page only contains 50kb of text and images that will use 30 MB right there. In my case because I have a lot of travel and tutorial pages with many images I’d probably need close to 100 MB without including any audio or video files.
Speaking of the daily backups… I hope they crawl the permalink since I’m not publishing the entire article in my feed. If not, the service will be totally useless.
Their site says that during the Beta testing the service is free, but I hope they maintain some free level of service because even if all of this worked perfectly I wouldn’t pay for it out of pocket. There are other free and simple ways to backup a blog, including plugins which e-mail or FTP daily backups. This one needs to be more convenient and have added value to even warrant use, much less a fee structure.
Heck, ever since WordPress 2.1 there is built-in Import and Export functionality and plugins will automate backups and migrations. For this reason alone I would recommend that BlogBackupOnline maintain a generous amount of free storage with Ad supported pages, and perhaps a higher level of storage at some nominal fee structure.
So, what do I think about all this? Frankly I don’t know yet. Nate Adcock over at PocketPC Mag had a different experience. BlogBackupOnline seems to be working for him just fine, but I don’t believe that’s on a stand-alone implementation of WordPress.
So at this point I guess about all I can recommend is to give it a try since it’s so easy to set up – but make very certain that it’s getting all of your data if you’re going to start relying on it.
I suppose I’ll reserve final judgment in the hopes that the guys at BBO notice this post and decide it’s worth finding out what’s wrong. If we get a fix I’ll update the post, otherwise you can assume this is the end.