When it comes to backing up, it’s easy to allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. You probably remember the days before the wonders of “the cloud” for backing up your home computer. Perhaps, back in the day, you forgot to backup an important file onto one of those fabulous floppy disks, or your computer got a monstrous virus that required an operating system reinstall? Or perhaps I’m just rather embarrassingly betraying my age!
In the same way that we backup our computer files, backing up the files that comprise our website is just as important – if not more so. From online security threats, to simple mistakes, to plugins or updates causing nasty glitches, that awful moment of realising that your beautiful website is down is always a risk.
Even servers can be vulnerable to issues – in 2007, web hosting firm RackSpace saw their vast Texas data storage facility brought to its knees when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and ploughed into the facility’s electrical supply. Strange things can happen, so skip the “that’ll never happen to me” mindset and develop a simple backup routine to give you peace of mind and ensure that you avoid any disasters!
Why Is Backing Up So Important?
If you think about it, your website represents either a huge investment of money on your part, or a huge investment of time. Building a website from the ground up is an energy intensive endeavour, and once your site is looking and functioning perfectly, you certainly won’t want to go back to the drawing board.
If you sell products or services directly on your website, then of course every moment the site is down will likely mean lost revenue for you. Even if your website is not directly for selling, a period in which those looking for your services, or following links to your content, can’t access your site can certainly be off-putting for potential customers. For these reasons it is wise to understand not only how to back up your website, but what steps to take should you need to restore it.
Select Your Hosting Wisely
When it comes to web hosting, you certainly get what you pay for. If you only pay £5 a month for hosting, you are unlikely to get regular or guaranteed backups. Investing a little more in a host that will deliver great support when you need it and provide off-site backups at sensible intervals, is a wise investment indeed.
Choose a hosting company that takes regular backups, preferably at multiple intervals daily, that are stored separately to the website itself. The hosting company should be on hand to jump in and restore a backup should you get stuck and need help. There is simply no point in having a backup system in place that means you will be sent an SQL file during a crisis and have not the first clue what to do with it!
Consider A Host With A Web Based Hosting Control Panel
Many hosting providers use a web-based hosting control panel like cPanel or Plesk. With a tool like this on hand you can take your own backups when you want to, but keep in mind that this resource is only as useful as your last backup, so won’t get you far if your site breaks and you haven’t made backups at diligent intervals.
A handy feature of something like cPanel is that you can make a quick backup as a precautionary measure before running a WordPress update or installing a new Plugin. This can be brilliant for reducing anxiety when trying something new on your site!
Manual Backup Plugins
If you don’t have cPanel access or equivalent, a plugin like BackupWordPress can allow you to take backups of your site yourself, as a precautionary measure for things going awry, but keep in mind that this kind of plugin will store backups on the same server as your site itself, so if you lose access to your WordPress control panel you won’t be able to restore your site without help from your host.
Plugins That Backup Automatically
Some WordPress plugins offer automatic backups, every day or so, although again you will only be able to restore the backup yourself if you can access your control panel. UpdraftPlus is a great plugin that allows you to take regular backups of the site and save them in remote locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc.
When You’ll Need Your Host
Depending on the scale of any issues you might face, being able to back up the site doesn’t always mean you can easily restore the site. Having the flexibility to be able to restore your own site when something small goes wrong, rolling back to the last time your site was exactly as it should be, but being able to call in the cavalry should the worst happen is a great balance to strike. A good host will be there to quickly resolve any issues you face – your successfully functioning business is in their interest after all, and if you know that your host has your backups covered, and you’ve got your own backup practice in place, then you will certainly be able to drift off to sleep at night, knowing that your fantastic website, and everything you’ve invested in it, has all the safety nets that you require in place.