January 23, 2012

Warning: do not delete

I'm going to digress from my usual blog posts to tell you what happened to my blog on Saturday, and hopefully prevent something similar from happening to you. I don't know if anyone has noticed the message that now appears on the top right sidebar of the blog, but it says that on Saturday, I accidentally deleted every image from my blog — the header, all images from the sidebars, pages and from every one of the 386 posts I've written over the last five years. Gone, gone, gone.

How did I do so much damage, you might be wondering. It has to do with Google+ and Picasa. I was not a Google+ user. Though I've gotten lots of emails telling me that this person and that has added me to Google Circles, I haven't paid much attention to it. I don't have the time or desire to use more social networking sites than I already use. I barely use twitter — mostly it's Facebook and blogging where I spend my Internet time. But I had a bunch of San Francisco photos that I wanted my son and his girlfriend to see, and they use Google+, so I went to the site and posted the photos. While I was there, I noticed that a bunch of my blog photos were there, and I didn't want them to be. I should have stopped to figure out why, but I was annoyed that Google had preempted my choices, and I deleted the photos I didn't want to share. Big mistake.

What I didn't know was that Picasa and Google+ are now connected, and what you delete from Google+ is also deleted from Picasa. Since Picasa hosts all of my blog images, and the images disappeared from my Picasa account, they also disappeared from my blog. I didn't realize at first what had happened, but then, as black squares began to replace the blog images, I knew something had gone horribly wrong. I searched frantically for a remedy, but none could be found. I've read through the help sections and searched the forums, only to find other stories exactly like mine, and a response from Google that nothing could be done. There was a suggestion that deleted files could be found in the trash folder on my computer but this didn't seem to be the case.

I considered deleting the blog and calling it quits, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Fortunately, I still have all the images on my hard drive. Except for the first year, they are organized and findable, but it's still an excruciating process to put them all back again. I've started reassembling the blog from the present, going backwards towards the beginning, though I don't always put every image back. And I don't know if I'll get the whole thing done. Also, for some reason I don't understand, images I've put back keep disappearing.

What would you do if this happened to you? Would you delete your blog? Start over? Any suggestions or words of comfort will be appreciated. And I'll try to answer any questions you may have.

Update: I forgot to mention that if you do find yourself looking at black squares on your blog instead of photos, don't just delete them. If you look at the HTML code, you'll see that the black squares still contain data as if they were actual photos. You'll be able to find out what photos were there, and what size they were. But, I hope you never have to see anything like this on your blog!

I've been nominated for the Top 25 vegan bloggers in the Mom's circle of friends. I don't exactly fit the profile of a young mom raising kids, but hey, I AM a mom and I raised three vegan boys. Now all I need are votes, and I'd be honored to have yours. Please take a minute and vote for me. Thanks! :D


  1. That's terrible Andrea! But, I can still see all the images from your past posts...I checked a few of them from your archives and all the images load for me. I checked it out on my husband's computer too, to make sure it wasn't just cached in my browser...I can see everything....unless you've already re-uploaded everything? It looks like it's still there from my end. I hope you don't have to go through all that!

    I've been confused about the blogger storage issue, namely having to pay for storage after you use up the free allowance. I hate that it automatically links to PIcasa and loads your photos there w/o the user actually setting that as a pref.

  2. Oof, that's rough. Like Rose says, though, I can see all the photos too, so maybe Google changed the policy? Or maybe since your DIL works at Google...;) I don't know but I really hope it's not a huge problem for you and that you're not totally stressing over it.
    If something like that happened to me, I'd probably just keep going with the blog - I'm not sure how much people reference my stuff later on anyway but you also write really informative posts so hopefully people can glean from the words what you wanted to convey. Good luck!

  3. Oh my, Andrea, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I would do the same as you're doing- restore the photos. I keep my blog as much for myself as to share with others, which I'm sure is the same for you and most other bloggers, so I can just imagine how sick you felt over this.

    Hang in there and just do the restoration as you can. with or without photos, your blog is awesome. :)

  4. oh nooo. i am so sorry.. somedays i get random fears that blogger will delete my blog or something.. i think i should try to find a backup solution that can restore everything including pictures.
    i love the first picture.. that means you are not letting this affect you. Please keep blogging and keep restoring in between.

  5. How awful! This is terrible. You have so many excellent posts, and so many readers. This is a lesson to Google that they should offer some kind of backup system. Me, after all this time, I don't think I could stand going down post after post and replacing my images. Honestly, I'd probably just start over, and I certainly wouldn't blame you if you did. But please don't call it quits, even if you do decide not to restore past posts! Maybe you can think of it as a sort of reinvention...your readers are still here, even if your past posts are sadly imageless...and on behalf of all the rest of us, thank you for this warning.

  6. Rose,
    I've restored all the posts that are linked to from the home page, except for the recipe links. And I'm working on March 2011. I'm pretty sure the photos are missing from the others — they are on my computer.

    It is a huge problem right now as I'm still a little bummed and obsessed with fixing things. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, sadly. But, I'm in a much better place than I was on Saturday!!!

    I know what you mean about keeping the blog for yourself, too. Same here. It's a lot to loose. Thanks for the uplift. :)

    If you find a backup, let us all know! I'm trying to keep this in perspective, but it is a huge disappointment.

    Thanks. One "nice" thing about it is it's giving me a chance to re-read my posts and remember things and foods I'd completely forgotten about. I'd be very sad if your posts or photos disappeared. I, for one, do go back to look for things in your blog.

  7. I'm so sorry about your photos, but I'm so glad that it didn't delete your text, too! That would have been an unsurmountable loss. I sincerely hope you don't delete your blog - I would greatly miss it. Good luck restoring your photos (but I don't think you should feel obligated to do it too quickly, so long as your text is there).

  8. Maybe this will make you feel better. In the days before computers, I saved stories, books and poems in cartons. They were usually in a cupboard, but one day I put them on the floor to clean. Then I left the house. While I was gone, a pipe burst and my house flooded. Everything I had written for a period of around twenty years was ruined-rendered completely illegible.

  9. oh no! that's awful, i'm so sorry, andrea. it's not fair how easy it is to accidentally mess everything up sometimes. especially with technology. what a nightmare.

    if that happened to me i would probably give up and start over, but my blog's very different from yours. your blog archive is so great for reference. my old posts are maybe fun for me to look back on but not really useful. plus, my blog photo files are scattered all throughout my hideous tangle of photo folders, there's no way i could find them all or remember which ones go where even if i wanted to.

  10. How horrible! I feel for you.

    Yet another reason to hate Google + (aside from the dining options at headquarters). Really I haven't joined it but sometimes there is a negative to linking things up and In general I prefer to keep online things apart (none of this linking twitter to facebook, etc).

    I have noticed that with Picasa but figured I might as well let it be. Grateful I did knowing this now. I know for me I had to purchase some sort of hard drive at one point that was only $10 a year but it was storage of pictures on google. At certain points I've downloaded the whole blog and saved it. Have you ever done that? There is someone I know who helped me with a blog glitch at one point who might be able to help you for a small fee. Email me if you want her info.

  11. ps: lots of your posts are saved on my google reader, if that helps...

  12. radioactive,
    Oh yes, thank heavens the text didn't go. It was the photo storage which links to the posts that went, hence, no photos.

    How awful. It must have been such a traumatic loss for you — and probably still elicits pangs of sadness. At least I still have copies of all my photos, and I'm going to figure out a way to back up the text.

    You have a wonderful collection of photos on your blog, as well as interesting writing. If you really did lose your blog you might feel differently than if it's only theoretical.

    I download the blog and save it, but I would still need to link to the photos, and they are gone. There is a way to mark Picasa albums so they are private and don't go to Google+. I know that now, but when I deleted my photos, I didn't understand the intimate connection between the two. I may email you for more info on the help you received.

  13. Oh, Andrea, that is so awful!! I am so, so sorry to hear that. I did look at some from the archives (2008) and I see the black boxes you're talking about. I've never even HEARD of Picasa--I had no idea something like Google + could even do that without telling people first!! Seriously, what is wrong with those folks?!! I hate the way they infiltrate everything and we don't even know until it's too late.

    Please don't delete your blog!! So much of what you have here is so useful, even w/o the photos. We can still read your recipes, reviews, ideas, etc. And I'm sure your readers are willing to wait if you choose to restore the pics.

    Good luck!! And let's all send Google nasty letters!! xo

  14. So glad you didn't throw in the towel! I've got to say, though; I might have.

    If it makes you feel any better, yours was an honest mistake. I can never find the link to my blog on the Google account page, so unless I make a conscious effort to "Visit the previous version of the Google accounts screen", I inevitably click where the blog link USED TO BE, which is now, "Close entire account and delete all services and info associated with it."

    Thank goodness the last time I did so there was a fail safe.

  15. So sorry this happened to you! I'm glad you didn't stop blogging.

  16. Ricki,
    Thanks for your support. I'm just glad I'm not the most prolific blogger on the planet. Just imagine if I'd written a post every day. Fortunately I only did that one month per year for vegan mofo. :)

    Throwing in the towel is tempting. Do be careful where you click!

    Thanks. I'm going to try to try to balance restoration with new posts.

  17. This is so terrible :( I just started reading your blog and love it. Don't throw in the towel!

  18. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear that! Sounds like my worst nightmare. If it did happen to me though, I would just keep on blogging, and very slowly add the old photos back in over time. The posts and recipes still have great value, even without the photos.

    I'm so glad you didn't just throw in the towel all together!

  19. OH F***!!! (At least that's what I'd say, many many times :-)

    Keep the blog, please!!! You can repair it (if that's what you want)! Just keep going one post at a time and it will get done, slow and steady (or maybe faster than you thought!) Esp. since you have all the pics on your hard drive.

    Please stay with us!!

    You can back-up your text on your hard drive, too. Just copy and paste the text from each post into a word document and save it there. Since you have to repair the picture situation from each post anyway, you could also just copy/paste the text while you are at it.

    Good luck and hang in there.

    Slow and steady wins!

  20. Emily,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I haven't given up yet!

    I like your idea of fixing the blog slowly. Now, if only I can do that. I hate having it so messy. :(

    I agree that there are times when cursing is the best response.

    Backing things up is so important. I'm just glad I have all the photos organized into folders. Even so, it's very slow going.

  21. Oh, Andrea! I so feel for you! It also wouldn't have occurred to me that Picasa and Google + are connected. I'm glad at least that you still have all of the pictures organized into folders. That will make the process easier, although admittedly tedious. If I were in the same situation, it would be tough to know how to proceed. As I look back on my older food photographs, I see that I had a lot of room for improvement! :) I'd probably reenter the photos on favorite or popular posts and then get to the other ones as I had the time and inclination. I'm so relieved that you didn't drop your blog altogether. That would be such a shame and I'd really miss your blog!

  22. Cadry,
    I know just what you mean about seeing the older photos. I cringe a little when I see some of mine, but I just accept that the photos have evolved a bit and try to let it go at that. I'm sure I'll have to grit my teeth a little as I work my way back through the posts. :) I'm trying to follow the good advice I've received from you and others about fixing the blog slowly.

  23. What a pain! If I was in that position I'm not even sure I'd try to add the photos back. Just think of it as a fresh start and you HAVE to keep blogging! :)

  24. Nanette,
    I wish I could just move on, but I can't. Maybe I'll change my mind as I plow through my posts, but as of now I'm still thinking I'll restore them all. And keep blogging. Sigh.

  25. I would probably be very cranky for a few days, then start again, completely new.

    But whatever you do, don't stop blogging! It's obviously fixed, as everything looks good again now!

  26. Mathew,
    If only. It's fixed through Dec. 2010, plus links from the home page. I'm working backwards from the present and am now working on Nov. 2010. I'm trying not to be obsessive about it but I want it fixed. Damn.

  27. I am so, so sorry this happened to you! I hate google for things like this. They are changing their privacy policy in Germany and I am thinking about deleting my google account. But then, so many other services work the same way.

  28. Mihl,
    The policy is changing everywhere as Google seeks to consolidate its holdings, and it can be confusing figuring out how it's all related.

    Don't delete your gmail account if you are in any way dependent on Google for your blog. That includes using any google templates or storage, like picasa. Deleting gmail will delete everything else, too.

  29. Oh no! what a huge bummer! So happy you're not giving up and just take your time restoring everything, we'll all still be here. :-)

  30. Chow vegan,
    It really sucks, doesn't it? I think it's going to take longer than I thought to do the restoration.

  31. OMg--you poor thing! That is awful. Thank you for not giving up and deleting the blog. It would be missed!


  32. Courtney,
    Sympathy accepted. It really sucks. But at least I'm getting to re-read the blog and re-discover recipes I'd forgotten. Though I'd rather not.

  33. Hi Andrea,
    I have done the same mistake and now hate Google+. Feel terrible and horrified.
    My great empathy with you.


    1. Linh,
      So sorry to hear this happened to you, too. I wish I knew how to fix it easily, but after all my searching for an easy fix, all I could do was put the images back one by one. Luckily I still had them on my computer, but it's a long and painful process. When you click on each missing photo, you'll see the name of the photo, which makes locating it easier, if you've previously organized them. I still have a long way to go to get all the photos back.

      I know how you feel. It was a terrible mistake and it felt like a great loss. Good luck if you decide to restore your blog.


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Note: ALL THE IMAGES FROM THIS BLOG WERE ACCIDENTALLY DELETED ON 1-21-12. I'M RESTORING THEM, POST BY POST, BUT IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME. Recipe pages you visit may be missing photos, but all the text in intact. If you find a post without images, let me know so I can fix it. Thanks!