Backups aren’t the point; restores are

Data Restore Station
Image by penmachine via Flickr

The always insightful Joel Spolsky reminds us that it is not enough to simply back up your data:

The minimum bar for a reliable service is not that you have done a backup, but that you have done a restore. If you’re running a web service, you need to be able to show me that you can build a reasonably recent copy of the entire site, in a reasonable amount of time, on a new server or servers without ever accessing anything that was in the original data center. The bar is that you’ve done a restore.

Let’s stop asking people if they’re doing backups, and start asking if they’re doing restores.

So, does Backupify accommodate data restoration in addition to our data backups? To a point.

Some of the Web services we backup simply don’t support restoration. Twitter, for example, won’t allow timestamped uploads to its database. We can retweet everything you’ve posted, but we can’t backdate the tweets. We’re working with Twitter to change that, but ultimately it’s in their hands, not ours.

On the other hand, we can roll back your Gmail or Blogger accounts almost exactly as you left them — because Google provides a very nice upload API that accommodate thoses kind of backdated data injections. The same is true of Yahoo with Flickr.

Our performance with other services varies, but we strive to make as much restoration as is possible available to you. Where the service doesn’t accommodate true restoration, we still provide full access to all your backed up data in a handy XML format. You can see exactly what you had, even if the social network or Web app won’t let you put it precisely back in place.

It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than having no record at all. What is Facebook’s native data-restore option? Oh, right, it doesn’t have one. We can do better than that. You can, and should, too.

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  • GoCatGo

    It’s funny how long we have been asking the wrong question, no?

    Once discovered, Backupify instantly became an indispensable tool, and a (fairly invisible) part of my daily routine. Many thanks to Leo and Amber.

    Backupify strikes the perfect balance between functionality and “set it and forget it” ease of use. This is how the web is supposed to work. Maybe the very existence of Backupify will encourage the folks at Facebook (and elsewhere) to partner with you folks on a complete restore solution.

    Love. It. Thanks!