New rule:   websites should only be upgraded in the morning when the sysop is fresh and patient, not at night when   he is tired.

Also, I think you should have to get a license to use the rm -rf * command (recursively remove everything, forcibly without confirmation) in unix.

Basically, in my never ending quest to be useful, I thought I would upgrade to the latest version of wordpress mu, the software behind our site.   I was too lazy to follow the backup instruction. I thought, I’ve done this a million times (really, I’ve done this once, for wordpress, not for mu).     I backed up the whole public_html directory with tar -cvf public_html html_backup.   I even checked the file to be sure I had a good copy.
Then I started playing with the new installation.   At some point in the playing around, I messed things up so badly I thought, I’ll just wipe it clean and start again.

rm -rf *

tar -xvf backup public_html

That didn’t go so well.   When I went to restore with tar -xvf html_backup, I didn’t get anything except the a few flotsam and jetsome files that were still lingering after the rm -rf *.

I panicked.

In a flurry of rapid checking I decided that my backup was fatally flawed and incomplete.   Why hadn’t I noticed that before?   I sent an email to customer service: “Save me, I’ve lost my website.”   I went to bed.   Got up.   Sent another email:   “Save me, I’ve lost my website and my domain is groklab.org (I had forgotten to mention that).”

A fitful night.

This morning I have this lovely note from customer service:

Hello,

I’ve copied a backup from the ShadowDrive on your server to your home
directory:

~gthomas/restore.20071215

If you have any other questions, please let us know.

Thank you,
Russ W.
pair Networks

I restored the directory and all is well.

In writing this note, I went to check my backup file to see exactly what’s wrong.

It’s fine.   Everything is there.   It was always fine.   I was just agitated, tired and not thinking straight.   I’m glad I went to bed.   I could have made things a lot worse in that mood.

I should remember the instructions on the cover of the Encyclopedic Guide to the Universe: