A long time ago, on a site far away, Jen had a blog set up for Finley. She posted pictures and wrote about Finley in the first couple years of her life, and all was good. For reasons I can’t remember now, several technical catastrophes befell both her local machine and the server the site was on. We were able to recover the files from the webserver but for a number of years I couldn’t find the backups I’d made of the database (the glue that holds the whole thing together) and it faded into memory. The Internet Archive never crawled it, so there’s no outside record of the site.

This past week we’ve had some conversations about words that Finley made up when she was a toddler and some other things that Mama captured from that time, so I figured I’d dust off some files and see if I could resurrect the site. It was built in WordPress as a subdirectory of her professional site when that content was still static, and when she had it updated and built in WordPress we saved a copy of the database and made way for the business site.

I have extensive backups of almost everything I can think of on the server or on optical media, and I’ve spent time cataloging everything so I at least have some idea of where it lives. But no search of the server or my catalog revealed that database backup anywhere. Jen did some digging on her old laptop and was able to find an email with a backup from November 2010, so I grabbed that and got to work. So far, I’ve:

Built a MAMP instance on my Macbook. Easy
Built multiple blank databases using PHPMyAdmin Easy
Loaded WordPress into the localhost server folder Super easy
Installed a new version of WordPress, had it build a database, and attempted to migrate the old database into the new one Fail. I think it fails because they’ve rewritten or renamed some of the database tables between version 3.0 and 5.X
Installed a new version of WordPress, imported the old database into MyPHP, and attempted to get WordPress to use that one Fail. wp-login fails because there’s some way the database is pointing at the old server for authentication so it times out.
Installed an old version of WordPress (the same vintage as the database) and attempted to get it to load Fail. The version of PHP in MAMP is 10 years too new, and I don’t feel like fighting MAMP to revert PHP back to 2010
Tried manually cleaning the WP_Posts dump in the SQL file using GREP statements Fail. WordPress saves multiple revisions per post (yay) which makes finding the final revision impossible over 1280 records (ugh).


The good thing is that the data is there. I can see it; it’s all in the SQL dump, and the crosslinks to the images and other media files I’ve got here are present. It’s just a matter of finding the right way to dig it out and put it back together. I’m getting to the point where paid solutions are looking better and better, but the internet is vast and wide, and another solution may present itself when I least expect it.

Date posted: September 15, 2020 | Filed under geek | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to Forensics

  1. ren says:

    It’s worth doing just for the “fiesta” story.

  2. The Idiot says:

    Oh, don’t worry, it’ll get done. I’m just trying to exhaust all free options before shelling out $50 for a one-time solution.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.