Lesson Learned: Backup Before Upgrading

Friday started with off quite crazy with a surprise from my web hosting server. I don’t really know why but I decided to run an apt-get upgrade last night and everything seemed fine until this morning when I was unable to log back on via SSH. So what did I do? Reboot, obviously and it broke everything. Ping was lost, services are down, websites not working, oh my!

I know my web hosting provider wouldn’t help much since I’m renting a virtual private server with root access which comes with a lot of responsibility, besides I was quite sure I’d handle it faster than I would have opened a support request and described the details, and I did!

Luckily I was able to use the Change OS feature and grabbed Ubuntu 11.04 which was installed within 20 minutes with all my old files in the /old directory. The rest was up to my typing speed — install necessary software, copy the old MySQL databases, restore the users, set up nginx and php-fpm and voila. I was back online. Approximate downtime: 45 minutes.

Lesson learned: backup your full VPS container before upgrading. Thank you Media Temple for providing the freedom to break things and the tools to fix them :)

About the author

Konstantin Kovshenin

WordPress Core Contributor, ex-Automattician, public speaker and consultant, enjoying life in Moscow. I blog about tech, WordPress and DevOps.


  • Doh! Backups can certainly be life savers. Lesson learned I'm sure, but don't beat yourself up too much! ;) It sounds like you got a handle on things pretty quickly, so kudos to you.
    We're happy to hear that you seem to be enjoying the freedom of the (ve) Server. Let us know if you ever find yourself in a situation that you're having trouble getting out of. We'll do our best to help!

    • Sara, I was expecting you and thanks so much for your wonderful comment. I also forgot to mention how quickly you guys can react on Twitter — quicker than other hosting companies can pick up their phones! So kudos to you and keep up the great job! ;)