If you own or manage a website then hopefully you’ll already be aware of the importance of website backups. However, if you’re scratching your head and thinking “what’s a backup?” or perhaps saying to yourself that “surely it’s the job of the web designer or hosting company to protect your website?” then read on.
In this blog we’re going to delve into the world of website back ups, answering questions and explaining some of the options so that you’re better equipped to handle your own website back ups securely. It’s not an exhaustive guide though so you’ll need to do a bit of homework too but this will set you on the right path.
What is a back up?
Essentially a back up is the process whereby you save a complete copy of the content on your site at a given time. All websites when they’re built will have a copy of the original site content saved (the development copy) in an archive but from that point onwards, every time new content is posted or other changes are made, you need to back it up.
What happens if I don’t back up my website?
If the website crashes, fire or flood damage hit or the site is hacked and you have not got a back up plan in place then quite simply you can lose everything. All of your hard work can disappear in an instant and if you rely on your website for your business then this eventuality is going to leave severely you compromised.
What’s the fallout from this?
Whichever way you look at this it’s not good but if you’re website ‘is’ your business then it’s disastrous. Should you be unable to recover the lost data then at the very least you face losing money through being unable to trade via the website. Perhaps you receive advertising revenue from partner organisations – with no website to advertise on this stream will shut down. Time is money with websites and the longer the problem persists the more costly it becomes.
If you’re running an ecommerce site this means your site database holding all the product names, the prices, dates, and other product information along with all the files – images, text, product descriptions will be gone. Hundreds of hours of work lost. Your business potentially shattered.
What about if everything’s backed up?
However, if you’ve got a solid back up plan in place then should there be a problem you’ll be able to get the site running in minutes or hours. Business as usual again. Yes, there will be work involved depending on the cause of the problem in the first place but by and large your customers or site users shouldn’t be negatively affected especially if you communicate with them via social media and email and keep them informed of the situation.
Aren’t web hosting companies responsible for back ups?
Yes and no. Most hosting companies will undertake regular back ups but it is not necessarily their responsibility to back up your site unless they have specifically agreed to this in your contract.
Some web hosts will only run back ups so that they can access files easily rather than for actual data security. In short, don’t rely on your web host but find out what their procedures are and how you’re site is protected. Be proactive. Assume nothing.
How do I go about setting up a back up programme?
There are various options and we’ll run through a basic outline of them now and explain a bit about them:
Manual Back ups
This is the most labour intensive way of backing up as you’re doing everything yourself. The files are being saved on your own computer or a second machine in a folder with the date and details in the title. Whilst manual backups are not difficult to undertake the draw back with this method is that you have to be very organised in order to ensure that the backup programme is maintained.
Setting alarms, calendar reminders and other techniques can help with this but as I’ve already pointed out, organisation and planning is key. Having a record with the time, date and signature of the person running the back up each time is essential otherwise you can miss back ups and run into problems.
If you’re site is hosted on WordPress then their own plugin BackUpWordPress (ANCHOR TEXT) is an excellent investment with over 200,000 downloads and an extremely high satisfaction rating on the official WordPress website. Benefits of this approach include that you can plan the schedule that suits you and set it to run, its simple to set up and use and if you need help then the support team are on hand.
Simple and most importantly instant, cloud based back ups are particularly useful if your website is interactive with users adding content such as comments, videos or other files. With the cloud back ups as soon as anything is added it instantly will be saved taking the pressure of the user to be monitoring response to blog posts and other user generated content.
Before you jump headlong into the world of cloud storage save yourself some time and money by establishing how much storage you actually need. This is just a case of calculating the size of your website and the likely growth in the future. Think about the type of content you’re creating and adding routinely – blogs, videos etc. and then you’ll have an idea of where you stand.
There are all sorts of cloud storage providers out there so finding one won’t be a problem and it therefore becomes a case of sorting through the options – AmazonS3, Drop Box, Zip Cloud, SugarSync to name just three of the cloud solutions ready to help you.
Pay a company
If you don’t have the time or perhaps the confidence to back up your website yourself then don’t worry as there are other options out there. There are companies now that will manage your site content and other data on your behalf. Known as ‘managed back up’ this is the ideal option for the busy website owner that just wants total piece of mind without as little hassle as possible.
Examples of reputable companies providing this service include Vault Press, Codeguard and Dropmysite. Again, it’s a case of looking at the price of the options and working out what your requirements are and what suits your website.
Do Teapot Creative offer a back up service for our websites customers?
Yes we do. Over last few years we’ve built many hundreds of websites all of which we host. We take our customers cyber security very seriously and our back up programme reflects this.
It is a combination of in-house servers and cloud storage with multiple checks and balances to ensure that if one system fails then there is another backing it up. No chances are taken with our clients websites as we appreciate the responsibility that is entrusted to us. I look after the server management and hosting here at Teapot Creative and so if something needs sorting then I’m on the case.
Back ups are important then?
Yes. Very. If you’re still not sure whether you’re site is backed up then consult your web designer or server host and don’t delay. Websites are the end result of enormous investments of time, effort and money. Don’t put the future of your business or your website in jeopardy simply by not taking seriously the need for back ups.
A responsible and sensible approach to owning a website is to put in place a back up plan of your own. The good news is that the days of having to be a super techy type in order to undertake a back up are behind us now and you can manage your website back ups with just a few simple steps and clicks of the mouse.