For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that my blog disappeared today. Google had disabled my entire account with them (that includes gmail, docs, reader, etc) due to “suspicious activity”. Not that they tell you this, I only got that message after I’d found a way to get it back. For bloggers this can be quite scary so here’s some advice.
It’s an idea to write your posts in something like Word (or the free Open Office Writer) and save them on your computer. Of course this will still mean piecing together your blog on another site if you can’t get your account back. You can download free software to back-up your website. This will save everything including comments, photos and links but takes a long time to run. Don’t rely on Picassa to save your images either, if your Google account goes you can’t access anything!
Make sure you have an email address other than gmail attached to your Google account and keep your mobile (cell phone) number on file. You can then use password recovery which will send you a verification text message. This worked for me and it was this that informed me of the suspicious activity.
In my case I’d done nothing wrong but you can get your account disabled for not following policy. Don’t spam, don’t post items you don’t have permission to post and make sure any advertising you run is well within what Google allow (I would keep it to Adsense and Amazon affiliates if you’re unsure). I’ve also been informed that your Google+ profile must use your real name. Though how they work this out is beyond me. Maybe they know I’m sat in my pyjamas writing this right this second…
Up until today I’ve been quite happy with Blogger but I’m all backed up and ready to go elsewhere if this happens again. Google do normally provide a great, and more importantly free, service and it’s not within everyone’s ability to self-host. I am tempted though and it’s something for me to think about next year.
There’s a chance if this happens to you that your account has been hacked. Avoid using the same password for important sites and change it as much as you can. I know it’s hard to remember them at times but work out the places that would really cause trouble if someone else got access and keep them safe.
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