DesktopServer Saved My Hacked Website

By on Jan 28, 2015 in Backup, Tips, Wordpress | 0 comments

A few months ago I had a major WordPress website catastrophe. The shared hosting plan that I was using was compromised and the web host (Network Solutions) decided that ALL the websites associated with the account needed to be suspended. That meant that none of the 10+ websites using the shared hosting account functioned. Essentially, they went away and NS made it my full responsibility to get things fixed before they would allow ANY of the sites to be visible on the Web again.

With those words of encouragement from NS, I set off to get things right again. First, I ditched NS for InMotion Hosting. I have met several of their reps at 2 LA based WordCamps and they made me feel really good about their service. Plus, they have an office (that people can actually visit) just a few miles from me here in the South Bay LA area. That was a HUGE bonus because I might never visit their physical location, but having it so close definitely made me feel good. I actually have LOVED InMotion Hosting soooo much that I signed up to help pimp their services. Check them out here via my affiliate link if you want to start using great web hosting services.

Alright, now I have some great web hosting for the soon-to-be-alive Harvester Solutions website. Thankfully, I had been doing regular backups via various WordPress backup methods. The plugin that I used to help recover my site is “WordPress Database Backup”. Now it just does a database file backup (no content files, i.e. /wpcontent, etc), but that is ok because there should still be standard FTP access to the content files that make up the WordPress website. Another thing that helped is that I’m a bit anal and tend to copy via FTP my WP content files to a local directory before doing major tweaks. Even if it just happens 4 times per year (approximately quarterly), it is better than having nothing at all. And, to help with the WordPress backup plugin question… a link to a comparison of WordPress Backup Plugins.

Here is where Desktop Server (DS) comes into the recovery equation…

There are 2 versions of DS, free and paid (no surprises there). However, if you are just recovering a single site, then everything will be fine in the world with using the free version. If you have 3+ websites that need work, and deleting one to work on another is not an option, then I highly recommend paying the fair fee to have an unlimited number of websites inside DS. Also, if you do development work for clients, then having the paid version is the way to go because of deployment functions and other add-ons/support that come with the paid DS version.

To begin, download the DS software package here and run the install. The install is really quick and easy but if there are any hiccups then referring to the ServerPress – How to Install Desktop Server page can be quite helpful.

Once the magic is installed, a prompt to start Apache and MySQL services will pop-up. Go ahead and start those services because they have to run in order for DS to act as a web server and for all the magic to work properly. Now that the web services have been activated, it is time to “Create a new development website.”

The following screenshots illustrate the options to choose within DS so the website recovery process can continue!

Create a new dev website

 

Choose “Create a new development website.”

 

 

 
Data for new dev website

 

 

 

Give the dev site a name.

 

New dev site URL

 

Take note of the new dev site URL. (It’ll be real handy later!)

 

 

 

List of dev websites

 

 

An EXAMPLE:

List of dev sites that are in your Desktop Server installation

 

 

WordPress new install config screen

 

 

 

 

WordPress installation screen

 

 

 

And, with the final screenshot, the familiar new WordPress install screen appears. From here it is just like doing a traditional install of WordPress. If the 5-Minute or Quick Install or other installation method was used to get WordPress up and running originally, then this screen might not be totally familiar, but is easily navigated. Using the same login and password as used on the old WP site is not necessary because this is just a “shell template” that is being created to IMPORT the old WP site’s database backup and site content backup files into.

Now, install WP and when complete, login to the WP Dashboard using the NEW creds that were setup in the previous step. Once inside the new WP dashboard, the main thing that needs to be done is to get the database backup and the content files backup from the old WP site into the new DS dev site. One way to do this is to install the WP Clone plugin. Plus, that will be helpful if the free DS version is being used because unlike the paid DS version, the free version has no native deployment capabilities.

OK, the backups have been imported into the DS dev site and everything looks/feels/acts more-or-less the way it used to. Use WP Clone to create a backup of the entire DS dev site with all the recovered backup content and files. This will yield a backup URL that will be used on the new site on the new web host.

Now, do a quick WP install on the new web host and note any database information if it is provided. Write it down somewhere because if could be useful later in the process. Install the WP Clone plugin on the new WP install. This is where the backup URL that was generated during the DS dev site backup will be used. Type in or Copy/Paste the backup URL into the “Restore from URL:” area of the WP Clone plugin. Click the large “Restore from URL” button and voila… the old WP site that had been ‘gone’ should be back up and displaying to the world on a live site again. If not, go back through the process and make sure everything went according to the original plan. Or, don’t panic; call a WordPress person. My go to person is Adam Silver at kitchensinkwp.com.

Saying everything went well… there will actually be a few minor issues. For example, the permalink structure may or may not carry over which means that URLs on the newly restored site will need to be tweaked so they point to the right, new locations. There are lots of plugins that can help out, but if the amount of content on the newly restored site is not too great, then picking through manually to restore URLs isn’t a bad way to go. Also, this will apply to media like pictures and videos that were embedded in content pages. Just go through the new restored site and see what is broken. Then determine how much that actually is and make an assessment about whether to go the manual route, or to add a plugin for help, or to call Adam Silver.

Additional note: I had the opportunity to contact and speak with support staff at ServerPress.com. They are a wealth of knowledge and truly gave me the impression that they sincerely wanted to help me with my situation/issue. But more importantly, they sincerely want to help and benefit the WordPress community. That is an amazing quality to discover, and especially when it’s associated with a business.

Desktop Server helped me to recover from a web hosting hiccup that made my website disappear. As with any website issue, a bit of technical knowledge is useful. However, just having some website common sense, along with DS can make recovering a once lost website an actual reality. The key is to have regular backups of ALL the content and database files associated with your website!

As always, feel free to comment below or contact me about WordPress or digital strategy items.

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