After running websites for over a decade now, I’ve learned it’s always nice to have a backup (or three). Sure, you can download your files every now and then, but chances are they won’t be 100% current. A few months back I decided to look into backing up WordPress sites to Amazon’s S3 service. It took a bit of research, some SSH, and some PHP coding, but I’ve had a nice workable solution up and running for a while now.

While planning to move a site to a new server, I thought I’d try to restore from one of these backups. Surely downloading and uploading 4 TAR files would be easier than downloading/uploading thousands of files and images. It was, but there was a bit of trial and error.

In an effort to speed up the process, should I ever need to restore a crashed site, I’m going to document the process here.

1. First of all, I had to download all the necessary files from my Amazon S3 account. This was basically the httpdocs folder, plus the MySQL.

2. Next, upload the files to the root web directory.

3. SSH into the site and navigate to the root of the site.

4. Combine the files, which have been split into 300MB chunks, using the ‘cat’ command. The filenames should resemble httpdocs_date.tar.gz.p00, httpdocs_date.tar.gz.p01, etc. The syntax looks like this:

cat httpdocs* > filename.tar.gz

That will combine all parts into one file named filename.tar.gz

5. Decompress the GZipped file using:

gzip -d filename.tar.gz

and then decompress the TAR file using:

tar -xvf filename.tar

6. That should restore all the files to the httpdocs directory. There’s one last thing you may need to do. You might have to change the owner of the httpdocs directory using the chown command, like this:

chown -R USERNAME httpdocs

That will let the public see the files once the database is restored (that’s a topic for another post).

Weblog Tools Collection has posted another section to their WordPress 2.5 guide and it’s a good one.

WP 2.5 changed a lot of things on the back end and I’ll be upgrading soon. I’ve done a few test installs and some things were puzzling and some I just don’t like (new Widget management).

Overall, WP 2.5 is a great new version with some long needed features. Can’t wait to try it out on a fully functional site and see all that it does.

Similar to how 2.3 overhauled the tagging, category and classification system, version 2.5 of WordPress will overhaul the admin area.

More than just a visual overhaul (which was needed), WordPress 2.5 will feature better admin functionality and an improved user interface thanks in part to Happy Cog.

There’s a nice article on WordPress.org detailing the work that went into the new Admin interface. Check it out.

The features that worry me the most are:

  • Multi-file uploads.
  • New “Media Manager” for images, audio, video, etc.
  • Built-in gallery function.
  • Built-in (and pluggable) Gravatars support.
  • I’ve achieved all of those using plug-ins and custom PHP files. Seeing that list of features makes me wonder how it will affect my plugins and if I’ll need to re-do several sites to support the “out-of-the-box” features to stay compatible with WP 2.5.

    Two nice WordPress plugins were released this week that might be of use to some.

    First up is Local Analytics. This plugin caches the urchin.js file on your local server, allowing  faster loading of the script. It also adds an admin configurable host of options that allow better tracking of outgoing links, downloaded files, and email address links. Definitely worth a try if you like Google Analytics (and you should).

    Next up is the WordPress Super Cache plugin. Heavily modifying the WP-Cache 2 plugin, Donncha O Caoimh has created another great plugin for WordPress. If you’ve got a lot of traffic and fairly static content, it might be just the thing you’re looking for. Comments suggest there might be issues with AJAX or other interactive features. So try it out and see how it works.

    Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait on Super Cache. Despite a nice modification to use the plugin on a Windows IIS or Apache server, it still requires the ISAPI_Rewrite 3.0 package for use on Windows servers. With most of my work involving .NET development now and the site up and running fine on WordPress, maybe I should migrate to a PHP account?