Friday, June 22, 2012

Backing Up The Blog


I apologize, friends, for giving you a half-baked tutorial yesterday. Today, after reading it again, it was just ludicrous. Specifically, I never explained how I got the "LongBlog" size option on my computer. It was like saying, "Here's fabric. Sew a dress!" without teaching you how to draft a pattern. Duh! Anyway, it's all corrected now - hopefully this updated tutorial will make more sense.

A different sort of tutorial for you guys today! 

Ever since I started writing my blogs, I've been paranoid that sometime in the future, Blogger would crash forever, the internet would get sucked into the Great Void or some other technological catastrophe would result in my blogs disappearing for good. Now, this craft blog vanishing would be sad, but not anywhere close to the tragedy that would be the annihilation of my family blog, which chronicles, among other things, the lives and hilarious antics of our girls. The logical solution is to archive these blogs in a stabler sort of format than the internet. Some folks are already doing this - in the form of blog-to-book publishing, for instance. My posts are photo-heavy, word-heavy and generally hard to split up into individual pages. Plus, I don't want to have physical shelves and shelves of print journals containing all my nonsense.

So - clearly- pdf is the way to go. But there are so many ways to organize a blog in pdf documents - by month, by post, by year etc. Here is what I'm doing to back up my blog - thought I'd share with you how I do it on our computer, in case you have the same neurotic distrust of the internet and free-Blogger-privileges. It's really easy and quick - for example, it took me about 10-15 minutes to back up all 21 posts from May 2012 (I can't believe I wrote 21 posts in one month!).

I used Safari to do this - for some reason, Chrome doesn't have this feature. I don't know about Firefox and I don't want to talk about IE.

Step 1
Open your blog in Safari, and select a post - don't open the home page because you're going to save a particular post, not all of them at once. So, for instance, I picked the Ladybug post:

Locate "File" on the menu bar and open the drop-down menu. Select "print". This is how I save files in pdf formats on my computer. Sorry if yours works differently.

Step 2
When the pop-up print menu appears, locate the "Paper Size" option. Currently, it was set to A4, and the preview image shown is the blog post compartmentalized into 18 individual A4 pages

which, if I'd saved them as a pdf file, would be a 18-page thing that looked like this

which is not what I wanted, because that's not how my blog post looks in real life!

Step 3
On the "Paper Size" menu, choose "Manage Custom Sizes":

where you can create your own size templates. I've already created LongBlog (for long posts) and ShortBlog (for short posts). Let's make a new one for the sake of this tutorial. Click on the "+" to add a new custom template

which creates a new "untitled" template

which you can name whatever you like.

Now change the Height to some useful number. I used 200 inches for LongBlog, 50 inches for ShortBlog and 100 inches for MediumBlog (all arbitrary- choose your own fancy numbers).

and then hit "OK" to save. You've now created your own size templates.

Step 4
Now this Ladybug post is so long that it needs the LongBlog size template (the ShortBlog and MediumBlog ones were found, by trial and error, to be too short), so I picked that, which turns the preview image into a skinny, elongated document with no page breaks:

Step 5
Now locate the "pdf" options menu
and choose "save as pdf". Save it as you would any document.

The entire post is now backed up as a single, long scrollable file like so, which looks exactly like the post does online:

My only regret is that I didn't start this process earlier, along with the earlier versions of my blog banners. It would've been so much fun to have archived the posts with the banners of their era, instead of having, say, the 2008 posts with this (falsely) current banner. Well, better late than never - I'm starting with 2012 and working backwards, doing a month at a time so it doesn't feel overwhelming. What about you - what methods of archiving/backing up your blogs can you share?

Updated to add: Also found a way to find old versions of the blog, the way it looked back in 2010, for instance. See? You can use the Wayback Machine and type in your website and it will show you the snapshots taken when (if)your site was crawled in the ancient past. 

Which just goes to show you that nothing ever truly disappears from the internet, does it? Creepy.

Alright, I'm done with computer tutorials now. As if I know anything about computers.


  1. This is just wonderful! Thank you so much.

  2. This is wonderful! Thank you so much.

  3. Just the tutorial that I need! Thank you so much. :)

  4. Have you considered turning your whole blog into a printed book? Check out

    1. Hi Corinne - I have considered it, yes. But as I said in this post, I didn't want to have (or invest $ in) physical books in our house, especially given the lengths of my posts. That would be a lot of books. But thank you for the link - it will be helpful for readers who might want to go that route.

  5. That is a fantastic idea and one I am going to use for myself. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Oh wow thanks so much! I'd start from the earliest and work my way forward though, since I have more records saved on my laptop of the recent stuff than the early stuff

  7. Great idea! Thanks for sharing that. Another thing I always wanted was a way to print out the blog to look at it like a photo album, since ours is a family blog. Still haven't done that.

  8. Question: How does your PDF backup scheme deal with images that are resized smaller in the blog post, and can be clicked on, to open up larger (to see details) in a new tab or window?

    The backup scheme I use for my blog is to open each post individually in a new browser tab (so only that post is showing), then save the file to disk as an HTML file with images. That published post is put in a directory with all the original sized camera image material. I use a directory scheme to organize the posts, based on date, for example: 20120622/ for today.
    Inside directory 20120622/ are the files 20120622.html, 20120622_files, dscn5121.jpg, dscn5122.jpg, dscn5123.jpg.

    The daily directories are saved in a directory named after my blog, with subdirectories for the years, and subdirectories of months within the years.

    To make a backup, I burn a DVD of the directory named after my blog. I keep the DVDs in a dry, cool area of the house, inside a DVD spindle with a cover. I hope that made sense?

    1. The larger (original) versions of the photos are already stored in an online photo-organizing/sharing program we use called smugmug, which is what the blog photos link to when they're clicked upon. It's sort of like flickr. And we have the originals also backed up in Aperture/iphoto on our home computer and separate backup harddrives. So in some ways, we already have good backups of the actual photos . This method of backing the blog up (by pdfs) is really to save the layout/text/format of the posts for sentimentality purposes. It doesn't save the links embedded within the posts, though. For that, I'd save the html docs of each post, too. Hm, maybe I should.

    2. When you save as HTML with images, does it save the actual images or just the links to them?

    3. Melissa, it saves the links. My images are all saved in smugmug -so I upload them from the internet, not directly from my computer, when I construct a post.

  9. This is a great tutorial and reminder to back-up my blog. I have Safari but don't have the long blog option. What version of Safari do you have? Maybe it's only available on certain versions.

  10. This is a perfect to save posts. Just what I was looking for. Thank you!

  11. What a fantastic idea! Thanks Lier.

  12. I have Chrome and there is a save to PDF option too. I am so excited, I never knew it existed, this opens a whole new world to me! I can save the amazing tutorials I see to PDFs now! Oh and back up my blog, which I really need to do. Thank you so much for this!

  13. This is really neat! As far as I can see there isn't an option to create a custom document size in Mozilla Firefox, there are just a bunch of preset options... so I guess I'll be learning more about Safari today. =)

    1. Just finished downloading Safari... turns out it's not a Firefox/Safari difference. The problem appears to be either my version of windows or the fact that I don't have an actual printer, which means my computer is sending the document to the Microsoft XPS document writer. Anyway, great idea and I'm sure I'll get it to work someday and somehow =)

  14. I should do this...someday.
    I did enjoy The Wayback Machine.


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