You won't miss it 'till it's gone.
2020 marks the 20th year of me writing incoherent babble on the internet. At least it’s the twenty year anniversary of recorded ramblings.
The first proper website I created was a collection of pictures of the South Korean Playboy model Sung-Hi Lee. I’m not entirely sure when, but I suspect it was in either 1996 or 1997. All I can remember is that I was still in high school. Thanks to some creative search engine manipulation, my humble compilation of nude photos of Ms. Lee - who turns 50 this year - made it all the way to the top three list of the most popular sites hosted by Norway’s largest ISP. Then the ISP nuked the website, and I departed for my year of mandatory military service.
My first personal website was called Central Park West for no other reason than that it sounded cool and classy. I’m not sure when it was launched, but I think it was during my first year at college, so either in 1998 or 1999. After Central Park West came a site on my first personal domain, SnuffCity.com. I have a very vivid memory of taking the name from a song title I saw on the back of a CD cover I had on the desk in my bedroom. The problem with the memory is that, according to the internet, no song with that title had been published at the time.
So where I got SnuffCity.com from, I don’t really know.
After SnuffCity.com was closed down for reasons I can’t remember, I eventually started a new site, liquid8. The first post on liquid8 was published on the 24th of May, 2001, which was during my last exams of my final year in college. I obviously had my priorities straight. In 2002, I decided to tell the internet that I was here to stay, and bought this domain, www.vegard.net. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Since Central Park West saw the light of day all those years ago, I’ve published close to 2,500 posts. Most of them serves absolutely no purpose to the general population, but for me personally, they are very valuable. The posts are part of a public diary that covers about half of my time on Earth, and some of the posts are very, very personal.
When I began jotting down stuff online all the way back in the previous millennium, I was about 20 years old, and I didn’t give the nostalgic value of it a second thought. Because of that, much of the content created on the sites prior to www.vegard.net, is lost.
I’ve always been rather good at backing things up, and I was sure that I’d burned every site I ever made to CD-Rs. But I can’t, for the life of me, find the backups. A couple of years ago, I browsed through all my old CD-R discs, and there was nothing there. So either I’ve got yet another false memory, this one of creating backups, or I’ve just misplaced the discs.
Back Up All The Things!
These days, I’m very careful with backing up the site, however. It’s hosted on a home-grown server with 2 hard drives in a RAID1 setup. That gives me redundancy in case one of the drives fail. Once a week, the server makes a complete backup of the entire site, and every night, an incremental backup of all changes since the previous night is created. These backups are saved on a USB flash drive attached to the server, and the contents of the memory stick is rsynced to a NAS server under my desk. The NAS sever is also configured with a redundant RAID1 storage setup.
All those backup means that the site is stored on 5 different physical location in our home. Two hard drives on the web server, a USB flash drive, and two hard drives on the NAS server. A lot of local backups are great, but what happens in the (very) unlikely event that all the hardware fails at the same time, or the (slightly less) unlikely event that our house burns to the ground?
Back Up Everywhere!
That’s where all the remote backups come in to play. The contents of the NAS server is continuously synchronized to a cloud storage service. In addition to that, I’m using Automatic‘s JetPack plugin, which creates daily remote backups of the entire site. The most recent addition to the remote backup toolbox is the Internet Archive and their Wayback Machine. With the help of the LH Wayback Machine plugin by Peter Shaw, all the posts on the site are automatically stored in the Wayback Machine.
The backup on the Internet Archive is a last resorts if restoring from any of the other backups fail. Scraping the content from the Wayback Machine and structuring it again will be a major pain the ass, but it will be well worth it if it comes to that. I’m guessing, however, that if all the other backups fail, including two remote cloud storage backups at renowned providers, I’ve got other things to worry about than savoring my own personal asides.
Oh, and I also regularly check that it’s actually possible to restore everything from the backups.
Because I’m not a (complete) idiot.