Saturday, June 06, 2009

Google will not save you from yourself

Consider this a public service announcement:

If you delete a Picasa Web Album that is associated with your blog, it will delete all the photos on your blog.

When you put it like that, it seems like it should be obvious. But consider this in your calculations - when I started blogging, there was no such thing as Picasa. There was a program called Hello and it was not very well integrated with Blogger. So when Picasa came around, and later when Web Albums appeared, my mind never really made the connection that photos on my blog = photos in the associated web album.

So when I went through my Picasa Web Albums and deleted what I considered to be online clutter - you know, albums called things like "My Adventures in Tucson" - I honestly never considered that it would erase all the pictures on my blog. The Confirm Delete message didn't give me a hint of it, either. I'm so used to having to double confirm everything I do on a computer these days (all those "are you sure you want to do that?" messages) that I expect a program to completely explain to me the ramifications of my actions. When all Picasa Web Albums warned me about was that the album would be erased, I thought, hey, that's what I'm trying to do. It said nothing about removing the photos from my blogs.

Magdalena's blog was completely decimated. No photos were left, at all. This blog had no photos left, either. Miriam's blog got hit here and there in a few places. So I'm slowly working at putting all of them back. It is tedious and boring and frustrating because it's my own fault.

It's funny because I always felt like I should have a backup of my children's blogs at least, but I figured that Google disappearing or crashing or going under was about the least likely thing to happen, ever.

I never even considered human error, certainly not on my part.

I've looked into iterasi already, but does anyone have any ideas for a program that does a full backup of a blog, including pictures? Or a time machine that will take me back to Thursday afternoon before I did this? Thanks.


Nancy said...

Google cache?

Bridget said...

Do you mean the cached versions of the webpages? I tried that almost immediately and the photos were already gone. Tell me if I'm doing it wrong.

Anna said...

That made me really sad. I'm sorry. Thanks for the announcement; I can totally see myself doing something like that.

Andrew said...

You still have all the original pictures, right?

I've had to recover a couple lost (accidentally deleted) Blogger blogs from Google's cache, but Miriam's and Magdalena's are private, so they're not indexed. For your public blogs, you can reconstruct them and save the files. It can take a while though and requires some heavy duty processing.

Warrick ( is a Perl script that goes through the caches of Google, the Internet Archive, Yahoo, MSN, whatever, and reconstructs the whole site.

It takes a while, but in theory you'll get all the pictures back from the bowels of the internet. I just ran it for a couple minutes and got all the text from May and June, but no pictures, so I don't know if it really can get them...

You'll have to run Warrick on a Mac since Windows doesn't come with Perl installed. You and Jeremy should be able to figure it out from the instructions, but if you need help, e-mail me.

If you do still have all your pictures, though, Warrick might be too powerful. You'll still need to manually put the photos back up online, on Picasa or elsewhere. Nothing I've found can automatically do that.

For the future, this can download all the pictures and text from a fully working blog, and Blogger lets you export your blog as an XML file (so you get all your text, with links to all the pictures, but no actual picture files)

Bridget said...

Thanks, Andrew. I did see Warrick but I didn't think it would help me with the pictures. The problem, more specifically, is not that the pictures are gone from the blog, but that they're gone from the internet. Web Albums was the host, and I deleted them from there.

I guess if I had to choose to lose pictures or text, I would choose the pictures - since I do have them saved on an external hard drive. Still, it's a big pain to put them back manually.

The hardest hit entries are flashback fridays since I usually just scanned in old photos and then deleted them. I guess this experience has taught me better archiving habits.

Thanks for that blogger backup link. I will be using it.

Alli E. said...

So, so sad!! I hope you can get everything back!!

Liz Johnson said...

I've heard of websites that will allow you to print out the blog ( in book format, but I've never heard of an online backup. I'm so sorry. That hurts my stomach for you. :(

Jason W. said...

Ugh! Bummer... Wish I could help, but I'm not what they call a computer whiz! Good luck!

sarah said...

dang! im so sorry bridget! i also wish i could help, but cannot. good luck!

Michelle and Andy said...

SAD!! I came so close to doing that the other day! But, the thing that saved me was that I couldn't see a "delete album" option for the blogger albums, like there was for my other albums. I looked at their FAQs and it said that to delete a blog album you had to delete each picture from the album. Weird. Maybe I just got lucky... Because obviously it worked for you! :(

Kristen said...


I would be in t e a r s.

There definitely should be a more serious and specific warning there. I also rely on my computer to send up the red flags, since there are so many times we just click Accept, OK, Yes, ad nauseum.

Katie said...

This is very sad. Hopefully all has been recovered by now.

The reason I'm just now commenting on this post is because I ran out of storage space in Picasa today and Bryan mentioned that it had happened to you too. Partially thanks to your wise warning, I splurged and just bought more storage space instead of deleting my pictures. So maybe knowing that you helped me out today makes it a little better somehow. But probably not.


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