The Dangers of Using a Free Blogging Platform (and why your site may disappear one day)

Using Blogspot? Google has the power to shut down your site for no reason. Your site could be deleted at any time.

It seems like every year around this time, Google (the owners of Blogspot) go on a pruning spree. They start suspending and terminating Blogspot blogs for “violating the terms and conditions”. Despite the fact that many of these bloggers have done no such thing.

In fact, I last wrote about this in July 2013 (though it has happened again since then). One of the victims I previously wrote about was a book blog, Word Spelunking.

As most of you know, Blogger has been a pain in my booty the last couple of weeks, with deleting my blog (giving me a huge panic attack in the process), then restoring my blog, to only lock it a few days later, deeming it “SPAM”. Now, obviously, my blog isn’t spam and Blogger finally unlocked it and now it is available to view by anyone (Whew!). Word Spelunking

Luckily she was able to get her site restored!

Deleting sites with no warning

This most recently happened to an artist called Dennis Cooper. On June 27th, his 14-year-old blog was shut down for supposedly violating the terms of service agreement, but Cooper doesn’t believe he has and despite his numerous attempts to contact Google, he hasn’t received a shred of evidence or an explanation. It’s been over two weeks with no news.

This is the problem with using a free blogging platform.

  • The company can shut your site down whenever they want.
  • They have no incentive to double/triple check their information, since they’re not getting anything from you in return (no money).
  • Even if you have a backup, it may be difficult to then migrate your site to a new platform while your site is still suspended/terminated.

At least if you were a paying customer, they would have some motivation to be damn well sure their information is correct. No one wants to drive away a paying customer unless they’ve done something seriously wrong on their site (illegal).

That leads me to my next point…

Technically this can happen on “self hosted” platforms too

A lot of people incorrectly say, “That’s why you should move to self-hosted WordPress, where this can’t happen.” It absolutely CAN happen. It’s just less likely and easier to deal with.

Web hosts have terms of service too. If you violate those terms, then they’re fully within their rights to suspend or terminate your account. HOWEVER, as I said, it’s less likely and easier to deal with.

  • Since you’re a paying customer, the host will want to keep you. It’s in their best interest. They’re more likely to send you warnings first, or at least triple check their information.
  • If your account does get cancelled, then all you have to do is take your backup to another hosting company and you can be back up and running in just a few minutes. You don’t have to deal with a painful platform migration.

What are you willing to lose?

Even if you don’t run out and move to self-hosted WordPress, ask yourself if you’re prepared for the worst.

Do you have a backup?

If anything, Cooper’s unfortunate situation should be a reminder of the importance of backups. If he had one, at least he could salvage his content and migrate to WordPress using his backup file. Since he didn’t have any backups, his site is now gone for good unless Google chooses to restore it.

How to back up your Blogger site

  1. Login to Blogger.
  2. Click “Settings”.
  3. Click “Other”.
  4. Click “Back up Content”.
  5. Click “Save to your computer”.
How to back up a Blogger site

It’s also a good idea to save this to your computer AND somewhere else (like a backup hard drive or cloud storage).

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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15 comments

  1. Very helpful post! I hear about this once in awhile and it always freaks me out, though I’m on WordPress.com and they seem to be less spazzy about randomly deleting sites than Blogger is. I’d love to go self-hosted at some point, but it just not financially viable for me right now. (Grad students really do not make a lot of money, and the housing in university towns is expensive!) Maybe sometime in the future!

    1. Yes WordPress.com is definitely less spazzy. Plus they actually get in touch with you when you contact them. It probably helps that WordPress.com is actually a business too. They make money off it, so it’s important for them to maintain a good face/reputation. Whereas I’m pretty sure Google makes absolutely zero money from Blogger. It’s just something they bought years ago and now passively maintain. Since they make zero money from it, they probably care very little about its public image.

  2. While this is totally true, I’ve been working with Blogger bloggers for 5 years and never heard of a case of a deleted blog without any reason and just a few deleted with a reason, mostly related to an AdSense problem, one of them was recovered. On the other hand, a client got her site completely erased from Bluehost without notice and we weren’t able to recover it in full. What I’m trying to say is that there are nightmare stories on both sides…so backups are mandatory in any platform/service 🙂

  3. Hah, this reminded me that I haven’t backed up my blog in a while. No day like today.

    I’m currently in the process of trying to plan a migration to something not wordpress.com (especially after a bad and failed attempt to map a domain I own through their system). Blogspot was on my list, but self-hosting is beginning to look more attractive…

  4. When you sign up, you agree to allow them to do this. So I don’t see why it’s a surprise to anyone. In fact, it probably happens more often, we just don’t hear about it.

    I know that I don’t do enough “due diligence” when I use WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, etc. You do need to back up your material. But can your backup be migrated anywhere without a lot of cost and headaches? Measure twice, cut once. It would seem that I should do the work up front to make sure that I don’t have a problem later.

    Unfortunately, users don’t push back when problems arise. The suppliers of this service are counting on that.

    1. You shouldn’t lose any of your followers if you do it right. You’ll no longer be able to use the GFC widget but you can set it up so those followers still get updates.

      In general it’s a bad idea to tie your followers to the platform you’re using. It’s much better to have them separate from the platform (for example, email subscribers would go everywhere with you, regardless of the platform). GFC is a bad system because it’s ONLY a Blogger following mechanism.

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