Is Your Web Host
Backing Up Your Site?
With the newest version of WordPress here this week, I’ve been talking a lot about taking a fresh backup of your site.
Some of my readers have been confused by my statements because they are using backups provided by their web host:
Dave Bennett of More Flying Twigs and I recently had this discussion, which I want to elaborate on today:
Dave: So thank you for the timely warning about backing up a site. We get automatic backups with our web host and I know they work because a while ago I hit the wrong button and deleted a Softaculous script and deleted all the content from a subdomain and the host got it back up and running from a backup.
Kim: It’s good that you have host level backups but you can not rely on that as your only or even primary backup method. A host level backup gives you zero protection in the event of a server room fire, data loss by the host, etc. The only backup that counts is a backup that is stored “off-site” from the facility that the server lives in. However, it’s good to have both a real backup AND the host backup, so you have some redundancy of protection.
Dave: That’s a good point. We have cloud hosting and our host has redundant servers – but an alternative backup location that is not part of that setup is a good idea. I looked into BackupBuddy once before. I’ll look again.
Kim: I know this is a worst case scenario, but, in fact do happen. If this happened, your other backups would be useless unfortunately, since you would not have them.
When it comes to making any sort of backup of your techy stuff… be it your home computer or your website… a few rules apply…
Rules For “Real” Backups:
1. The backups must be fresh and recent
2. You must have restored a former backup to prove that the software making the backup is able to make a usable backup on your web hosting account.
3. The backup must be stored off-site at a different address than it was made.
Today we mostly want to talk about point #3 and how it relates to your website backups. I’m going to go ahead and assume you have done #1 and #2.
Most quality web hosting providers today do provide an (included) monthly or weekly server level backup that you can access for a fee (usually $75 or less) in an emergency. They may ALSO sell you a more frequent backup package that you can purchase that often comes with bells and whistles.
The server level backup is fantastic – if your host can not sell you access to it in an emergency then they are a pretty crappy host.
However, these server level backups – and some of the backup packages sold by hosts – are NOT IN YOUR HANDS.
What does that mean?
It means that the backup server, which contains the backups, is sitting in the same building or at least the same infrastructure network as the server that is powering your site.
So what happens when the data center these servers are in suffers from a fire? YOU ARE S.O.L!
What happens when a tornado hits the building? YOU ARE S.O.L?
And what happens when the web host stops paying its bill and vanishes? YOU ARE S.O.L!
Oh but those things will never happen, I hear you say!
Guess what: They do!
In fact, it was Hostgator that just a couple years back lost a big chunk of their data center to a fire.
I can not emphasize enough…
OWN YOUR DATA… HAVE A COPY OF YOUR DATA… HAVE YOUR DATA IN YOUR CONTROL
Whether we are talking about backing up your blog, or backing up your Aweber, or backing up your Skype account… these data backups are the lifeblood of months or years of business building you have done.
So what is “the best protection money can buy”?
If you want to be sure you have a bulletproof backup plan, here’s what I recommend:
1) Make a cPanel level backup (which backs up your domain email accounts, cronjobs, nonWP content and more) every 2-3 months.
Download this to your local computer and bonus points if you also put a copy in your safe deposit box that is at your bank or otherwise not in your house. If you don’t know how to do a cPanel backup, click here.
2) Use BackupBuddy or an alternative to make a FULL Backup (Database PLUS Contents) of your WordPress site monthly.
Download this to your local computer and bonus points if you also put a copy in your safe deposit box that is at your bank or otherwise not in your house.
3) Use BackupBuddy or an alternative to make a DATABASE backup weekly.
While this does not include your images, it does back up your settings, posts/pages and comments. Unless you publish as often as HuffingtonPost does, weekly is usually often enough. But you can do this more often if you publish multiple posts daily.
Have this emailed to yourself OR auto-uploaded to a cloud host like Dropbox or Amazon S3 or Sync. Download a recent copy of this when you download your bigger backups and keep the most recent one with those backups “just in case”.
4. Use a web host that takes server backups and will sell access to you in an emergency. This is most hosts but not all will give you access.
For example, Bluehost recently denied access to someone whose backup and site became infected with malware, and made it challenging to recover and clean the site.
That above is “the gold standard” and unfortunately most people are doing less than 1/4th of this!
Certainly you can fiddle with the plan above to make it work for you but you have to ensure that all the bits-and-bobs are backed up regularly and that they are backed up with software that has consistently proven to be stable, reliable and that will produce a usable backup!
(There are a lot of WP based plugins and scripts that will “make a backup” but the backup is not usable otherwise known as not recoverable.)
If you’re not comfortable setting all or part of this up for yourself, contact my team and I and we have service plans that can be tailored to suit your needs!
Be safe – Be Protected – Be Smart!
~ Kim ~
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