Cobbler's Children Syndrome
My old blog at fusiongrokker.com was recently offline for more than 230 consecutive hours. Partly, the hosting company is to blame for this. I pay them for a service: A server, connected to the internet, with electricity; and this service was not being properly provided. But partly it is my own fault too.
230 hours is nine and a half days. At what point should I have decided to give up on them coming back online (after my numerous support tickets and phone calls went unanswered) and restored my website onto a new web host from my most recent backups? Well, before you can answer that question it's important to note that I didn't have backups. At least nothing recent.
Fortunately, the server is back online now. Yes, I immediately made a backup of both the database and the files for the website. Fortunately, it's not changing in any meaningful way. Maybe a stray comment or two on old articles. Nothing I'll be overly worried about losing. And I intend to get it all converted over to this new blog eventually, with proper redirection from the old URLs. Eventually.
Eventually. That's the word that got me into trouble in the first place. Cobbler's Children Syndrome.
The cobbler's children have no shoes
This is a common trope that most people have probably heard of. On the off chance that you're one of today's lucky 10,000, it goes something like this: The cobbler, who makes shoes for a living —for some combination of reasons— doesn't provide shoes for her own children.
And it's not that big of a deal, most of the time. You can walk around most areas barefoot without too much trouble, aside from stores that won't let you in without shoes. But the problem with this mentality is that it fails you when you're desperate. When you find yourself facing a road litered with shards of glass and no choice but to cross it. You'll be cursing your former self for not investing in some shoes.
So it was with my blog's backups. Of course I had backups of important stuff. Things that make me money, like my book and websites I've made for freelance clients. At face value, my personal blog didn't sound so important. I'll get to it eventually, I'd think to myself.
Eight years later... that didn't work out so well for me.
I have no idea how much google-juice those old blog entries lost in the 9.5+ days they were offline, but it was definitely non-zero. I had friends tell me that they couldn't even find my blog in google search results if they were specifically searching for it. Crap.
So now it's a priority. Which is to say that it's been prioritized, somewhere near, but not at the top of, my list. I do have to keep doing things that pay the bills first. But after those, this is uh, one of, my top priorities.
There are a lot of things that we as software developers are prone to let slide like this. Version controlling tiny little side projects is another example. And there's only one appropriate response when addressing these questions in your head. There's really no other answer you can give.
Just do it.