More exertion than I'd planned for

A SaaS data loss story

Posted by hossg on March 18, 2022 · 3 mins read

I’m an infrequent blogger, and traditionally used this blog as much as anything to record notes about particular side-projects I was interested in, conference speeches I enjoyed or found enlightening or generalised observations I made about the workplace.

Occasionally I’d point friends or co-workers at a particular piece I’d written, but I really used the blog more as a recording device for myself - a sort of notebook - than a means of publication. The fact that an article might be read by others forced me into a certain discipline of putting my thoughts into some vaguely coherent form, and I found this deceipt useful, as it pushed me into distilling generalised ideas from specific examples, to make them potentially relevant to others, and in so-doing made me think far more deeply about the topic I was recording.

I set up some Google Analytics reporting to email me monthly page hits, and would occasionally look at the trend of readership ebbing back and forth, sparked either by a new posting by me, or - far more frequently - by some other event in the world with a correlation to an indexed term in one my posts sending unsuspecting Googlers to the site, only to be disappointed by what they found!

I don’t know when I last stopped reading the analytics report. It was rarely interesting, and I’d created it only out of curiosity. For that reason I simply didn’t notice that readership had dropped - to precisely zero! I’d been busy at work, and hadn’t posted anything for a few months, and was thus unaware that MentalExertion had ceased to exist, that the hosting company had deleted my blog. My credit card had long-since expired, auto-renewal had failed, and the single email alerting me to this had ended up in my spam folder. I can hardly complain - I was less than organised in managing the risk - but I was aghast that the hosting firm kept no backups and was unable to recover my historic posts, and to my own shame I had no offline copies either.

I don’t know if I am being unreasonable, but I think that to destroy data due to a billing error, while knowing you have no backup, and to simply attempt a single email to alert a paying customer to that fact is beyond reproach.

I was incredulous at first, but as it dawned on me that my data had gone, I decided that if I was to start the blog again, it would be somewhere new, and with a new blog would come a new commitment to be more proactive. Proactive about taking personal responsibility for data backup of course, but also more proactive about regular posting and sharing of content, and also about trying to develop greater engagement with readers.

So this is it folks: the new MentalExertion, on a new platform, and hopefully the first of many posts to come. Please feel free to comment or share your own stories of data loss or starting afresh. Enjoy!

p.s. If/as I find copies of older posts I will try and re-post them with approximate historic posting dates, if only for posterity!