About a month ago I was shopping for a backup solution for a family photo gallery website I built. I used to run the site on an old P4 desktop that was sitting under my desk while it was running on Gallery, but other than taking a couple Acronis images of the data for disaster recovery purposes, I still wanted to get it on something more redundant and backed up regularly. I migrated the site/data to WordPress which I installed on a brand new Synology NAS and started investigating my options.

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There are a bunch of free backup plugins in the repository, but the more I read, the more I realized that they were all lacking in some way. A few of them were just the database backups which would preserve the data, but not all the design, plugins, and theme modifications I’ve made to get the site to where I want it. I wanted something that could get my site back in its entirety if the worst case scenario happened. I decided the only way to ensure I could get the functionality and support I wanted was to go with a premium plugin.

I found a few sites that reviewed the top contenders, perused their websites, and finally went with BackupBuddy by iThemes. The three backup, restore, and migrate videos they have here was basically what sold me. It looks extremely simple to use which sounded ideal. My primary intention was to use it for my home served family photo website that contained a tons of old images I did not want to lose, but I still went with the unlimited sites option for the extra money. I didn’t really need the unlimited sites as my host has never let me down with restores so I feel I’m pretty safe, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to have my own backups available on a few other sites such as this one. I am so glad I did, and here’s why.

The plugin has not worked so far on my Synology NAS. Maybe someone could help me over at the iThemes site, but I kind of feel skittish about going back there. Two days after purchasing this plugin, I happened to Google my name and I noticed my full name coming up in search results for the iThemes domain. Since I had done nothing but become a paying customer two days earlier (no forum posts or anything), this scared the heck out of me. What other data are they leaking from their paying customers, I wondered. I immediately emailed them and asked why this was happening and to please make it stop.

Fast forward nine days later and I have yet to hear back, so I sent off a scathing email about my name coming up in search results, about not being acknowledged regarding my email, and now the fact that I could not log into the site. (The last part turned out the be me locking myself out, but I’m quite positive I was entering the correct password as it was only four lower case letters assigned by them at the time) So, I’m pissed at this point, and it takes a lot for me to get riled up. I’m more apt to go away from a company I’m unhappy with and never return instead of causing a big stink. But under the circumstances, this privacy thing gets under my skin, and so I’m fired up.

I eventually speak with a guy over at iThemes that gets to feel a bit of my wrath and over the course of a few days and probably twice as many email exchanges, he says enough right things in the right tone to turn me back from green to my normal skin color again. He was a nice enough guy, and in the end he even offered me a t-shirt for all my troubles to which I thanked him for but politely declined. I walked away calm and was thankful he took the time to do some damage control.

The answer I got as to why my name came up in search engine results for the iThemes domain is that it was indexed while I was “browsing” the forums while I was logged in and your default username is your full name you sign up with when you pay. If that’s true, I don’t like it, and have since not been back for the help I really need to get it working on my Synology. Every time I tell myself I’ll just go over there, log in and change my name real quick before I get indexed again, I get this uneasy feeling about it and just make an excuse to work on something else instead.

I have installed the plugin on probably half a dozen other sites and have made successful backups a few times, but have never tested the restore or migration aspects. The original idea was to use it to back up my family photo site, then restore it to a new test subdomain for testing new plugins and modifications. Since that hasn’t happened, I’ve had no real pressing reason to try/need the restore option yet. From what I’ve used of it so far, it seems like a decent product, but I would like to someday use it for its intended use. Maybe one of these days I’ll head back over to the site.

One of these days.

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