I hate ‘bad’ feedback. I hate it if I’ve done a training session and a participant tells me that something didn’t make sense, or was a waste of time. I hate that I’ve ‘failed’ and done a bad job.
But that kind of feedback is the most valuable and best feedback there is, because it tells me how I can do better, and I love it for that. I also appreciate the person who tells me where and how I can improve my work and so run a better business.
I like it that they care enough to spend their valuable time and energy helping me in my business. They’re giving me the opportunity to improve and grow, to shape my work better.
Hard as it is to hear criticism, my work is better for it and I’ve increased my skills as a result.
VaultPress is the hot new WordPress blog backup service from Automattic and I think I must be one of their most valuable customers right now.
Your blogs and sites are your livelihood. Are you protected? VaultPress is the only protection and backup service built on the Automattic grid that reliably serves over 11 million WordPress.com blogs and 250 million monthly visitors.
Why am I so valuable? Because although it seems every other customer who’s signed up so far is ecstatic about having their blogs backed up, for me it didn’t work. For a week or more.
I applied for a Golden Ticket as soon as they were announced, and was thrilled to receive one just a few days later. I signed up MacTips for the cheapest level of coverage.
Sign up troubles
Except I couldn’t sign up. There was some problem they’ve now fixed, with the payment form. It didn’t matter whether I tried to select a (US) state or not, the form wouldn’t let me through, claiming I needed a state.
After several failed attempts I emailed the Helpdesk with some screenshots. The next day I was able to complete my signup.
I eagerly downloaded the plugin from my VaultPress Dashboard. It’s customised and unique to that site. Everyone gets their own plugin that includes unique coding to allow the backups to take place.
Installation was easy, and then I activated it. It was quite a buzz to instantly see the message that VaultPress was indeed backing up.
I felt a new sense of relaxed confidence that MacTips at least would now be fully and completely backed up with no further effort on my part.
An idle site
Except, actually, it wasn’t.
A little while later I visited my VaultPress Dashboard. On the Summary page it seemed that the version of my WordPress install wasn’t being recognised and there were no actual completed or partial backups.
I waited a while to be sure VaultPress had a chance to grab everything from my site. After considerable waiting, and several visits to the Dashboard, including logging out and in again, it seemed pretty obvious that things weren’t working.
I fired off another email to the Helpdesk and received a reassuring response that they’d look into it. That took a while.
A week after first signing up, I still had no backups. We corresponded a bit and then things seemed to pick up. I emailed them:
I’ve just noticed from the VaultPress Dashboard that things appear to be underway now.
I don’t know if it’s something you did, but thought I should let you know that in the last hour I’ve updated my essential Bad Behaviour plugin to a version that just became available and deactivated the Simple Trackback Validation plugin as I realised I no longer needed it, having turned off trackbacks recently.
Except, uh oh… My next message told them:
It appears that in spite of seeing apparent backup activity, I still have no backups.
My site stopped responding
Before long the Helpdesk replied:
What we’ve been noticing is that on large database tables (such as your term relationships table) the backup will progress properly until some point, and then every request after that will timeout. Your site simply stops responding to us.
I thought maybe one of my plugins was causing a problem and deactivated a few, including the Yet Another Related Posts plugin.
Success at last
I’m thrilled to say that now finally we have success and MacTips is thoroughly backed up. But it seems that disabling the plugins wasn’t the factor that made the difference. The Helpdesk wrote:
I believe that the problem is with how were were making requests to your site. For irrelevant (and outdated) reasons we at one time had to make hundreds and hundreds of separate requests to get the full backups done. Since then we have made several advances in several areas, and we can now send many requests through just one connection. I believe that an apache module that your hosting provider has configured was seeing all of these requests and temporarily blocking our service mid-backup of your site seeing it as a form of abuse. Now that we’re able to do more work in less connections we’re not triggering the modules defenses and things seem to be working.
I can also see that I should do a bit of tidying up at MacTips: 7 themes! 1215 revisions! 26 plugins!
It took a while to get this particular backup in order, but the Helpdesk folks were friendly and effective. I’m confident now, with the might of Automattic behind VaultPress, that I have complete backups of MacTips: themes, files, options, posts, the works.
MacTips represents thousands of hours of incredibly valuable work. It’s worth protecting.