OuchIf you follow tech news, you may have heard about GitLab.com. Poor folks.

This week, an engineer pulled the old rm -rf mistake on a directory full of their production databases. If you don’t know what that means, that command in Linux basically means DELETE EVERYTHING WITH NO WARNINGS THAT YOU’RE DELETING EVERYTHING. That command is dangerous and should only be used in extreme cases. Otherwise, you get stuck like Gitlab.

What they’ve found as they try to restore data is that, according to this Register article, 5 of their types of backup systems and procedures either didn’t work, weren’t being run, or never worked correctly. That’s very bad.

Credit to GitLab though – they have been more than transparent on Twitter, sharing a Google doc with progress updates, and even live-streaming the restore process on YouTube.

What can we learn from GitLab? My takeaway is to take a minute and make sure your computers and servers are backing up correctly.

Personal and Server Backups

On a personal level, I backup my laptops and desktops at Backblaze. I’ve written about them several times here, but it was a lifesaver when my laptop was stolen last year. I was back up and running in hours and didn’t lose a byte of data. If you use my link, you get a free month of unlimited backups. At $5 a month, it’s a no brainer.

For servers is a little different, and every IT organization treats backups differently. There are full and partial backups. In the past, I used a script that dumped my databases and web files and uploaded them to Amazon as extra level of backup.

Have a blog, and you use WordPress? I would highly recommend you set and follow a backup schedule for your WordPress site. There are many plugins to automate this, and they will upload data to many online services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP, Azure, and Amazon S3, which is what I use. One of the most popular, and free, plugins to do this is Updraft Plus.

I do daily backups of this blog nightly. I keep the last month’s worth of daily backups and then a monthly archive. I don’t ┬áhave a need to go back more than that. These backups aren’t terribly large, and storing them at Amazon costs, honestly, pennies per month.

Plugins like Updraft Plus take the manual labor out of backups, and that’s good. Life happens, and the last thing on my mind when I’ve got a free minute is dropping everything to back up my blog.

Take a few minutes today, and check your backups. It’s like insurance – you have it, and hopefully you never have to use it.