What does backing up my website mean?
Your website is a combination of many files and possibly one or more databases. Backing up is the process of saving a copy of these files and databases so that you can restore them again if something goes wrong with your website. Ideally, your website backup strategy would ensure that your backups are held in a different location than your website, as if your server breaks you’re likely to lose your backup too.
Why Backup My Website – doesn’t my web host do this?
Unless they have specifically told you otherwise, your web host is under no obligation to backup your site for you. Generally speaking, the cheaper your hosting the less likely it is that your hosts are backing your site up, but even expensive hosting doesn’t guarantee regular backups of your site.
If you lose your website and do not have a backup, you may well need to build it again from scratch. How much time and money is that going to take?
Here are a few reasons why you might need to restore your site from a backup copy…
- Your server crashes – this will be out of your control, and whilst your hosts may well be able to recover the situation and get your site up and running again, this won’t happen if the disk has been physically damaged (or destroyed)
- You make a big update to your site and need to put things back as they were before your update
- Your website gets hacked – we’re seeing an increase in the number of websites that get hacked. Whilst there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of hacking on your website, if your site does get hacked then a backup may be your only method of ensuring your get a clean version of your site up and running again
- You may fall out with your web host and decide to move your site elsewhere. If you don’t have any external backups, and don’t have access to your website control panel, you might have trouble getting hold of a copy of your website to install on your new hosting server
What’s a good website backup strategy?
To some extent the frequency of your backups is determined by risk and your website update rate. If you have a fairly static website which changes every month or so then weekly (or even monthly) backups might be a good solution. However, if you have a transactional site (e.g. ecommerce) you might need to backup every hour, or possibly even consider some sort of incremental backup solution, to make sure that you don’t lose any transaction history when restoring.
Your database may well change more frequently than your website files. So, you might want to consider backing up your database more frequently than your files. This should speed up the backup process and
This is the backup strategy for our own website…
Server backups are taken nightly by our hosting company. 6 backups are stored at any one time, and so on the 7th day the first backup file is deleted. This means that we can easily recover our website from any point during the past week. The backups are stored within the same data centre, but on a different server.
In addition, we take weekly backups of our site and store them on Dropbox, keeping 3 copies. The cloud is a good place to store things like backups, as the cost is generally very low (or free) and files are easily accessible by you. As ours is a WordPress site we use a backup plugin to automatically schedule these backups, and to send them to our Dropbox account.
Whatever type of website you have, make sure you back it up regularly and reliably. You can initiate backups manually, for example by going to your control panel or using FTP (as long as you don’t have a database), or you could use a script to do it automatically (you might need to ask your web host to help). If you use a common CMS framework such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla you could use one of the many plugins and extensions that will do the backup job automatically for you – many of these are free.
Why not let us review your website backup strategy and recommend solutions for you? For a free assessment and a quote for providing a comprehensive backup solution, please get in touch…