I’m constantly amazed at the amount of people who tell me they don’t have backup’s of their websites, worse still they don’t even know they should be backing up on a regular basis or if their web host even provides backup’s if all else fails.
How many times have you heard, “my sites been hacked, I’ve lost everything or the database crashed and all the data is gone”
If there is one thing you should know about owning a website it’s how to back it up!
Backup’s are a safety net, a security blanket and are an essential part of being a web master or site owner. Without regular site backup’s its like not having insurance on your house and contents. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Whether you manage your own site, have a web manager or manage a site for a group, organisation or charity I cannot stress enough how important it is that you know how to backup and do it regularly!
Nothing on the internet is guaranteed, while we are developing more and more technology, threats and exploits aimed at destroying your website are being discovered at an alarming rate. Sometimes the seemingly simple task of updating a site or software can cause a file error and the loss of files and data. For WordPress, using an incompatible plugin can cause a crash or a plugin that isn’t updated can cause major chaos.
But my web host does backup’s I don’t need to.
Fantastic! A good host provider will be able to provide you with a daily or weekly backup of your site if it hits the fan, however it is not their responsibility to make sure you have adequate backup’s and should not be relied on. If your site is hacked, compromised or unwanted changes are made and the damage is not noticed for several days, a hosts backup would have already run and your “good or non affected” data may have been already be overwritten with the bad data in the backup.
How often should I backup?
The answer isn’t black and white or the same for everyone. I have heard a lot of people say weekly or monthly is fine which in all honesty is bad advice and I firmly disagree unless your site sits there without ANY changes being made. If you are just an information site that sits there unchanged then weekly may work for you.
If you are a blogger or have a site that is updated regularly then I highly suggest you do daily backups no questions asked.
Are there anytimes when I should absolutely backup
I always recommend to clients with blogs that they do a backup everytime they do an upgrade for the core WordPress files or plugins. So many plugins can cause issues and if you go through and update them all without backing up in between and something goes wrong, how will you know which plugin caused it? You are then left to reverting to a backup and starting the process all over again and believe me sometimes it isn’t that easy to find the errors.
Are there different types of backups?
Yes there are different types of backups
1. A full system backup – this backup includes all files, folders, and images including database but actually not the best solution.
2. File only – as suggested this contains all the files, folders and images from within your public_html folder. Your plugins files and theme/design are also kept here.
3. MYSQL or Database – your MYSQL contains everything to do with data collection for your blog, the posts, comments, and all the blog settings.
There are other ways but we will talk about these later.
Should I rely on a Plugin to help me backup my site?
Honestly, NO. At the end of the day they are plugins just like the rest of them and are not guaranteed to work or be safe or even able to be restored if something goes wrong.
Some plugins do not do an entire system backup! A lot I have looked at or seen recommended simply backup the MYSQL and not your files. Most hackers get in via your FILES – so therefore the MYSQL backup is not going to restore your site or clean it.
Why on earth would you backup a site with a plugin when a plugin can cause incredible amounts of damage to your site.
I’ve seen some which ask you to backup in your dashboard – sadly this won’t happen if you can’t access it. Unfortunately I have seen this happen on design client’s sites where they thought they were “safe” but were not. They have been with hosts who don’t store backup’s and have been left with a major clean up job which is not only timely but can be expensive.
I have had 2 clients with backup plugins installed only for them to be the cause of major issues and causing havoc within the core WP files.
Personally and professionally I will not recommend them at all.
I know backing up isn’t fun or exciting but if you love your site and everything on it then please give yourself some peace of mind and embrace it.
Please whenever you make serious changes backup your website, when you backup your website it is like you are taking out an insurance policy on all your hard work!
There is more to come in this series, over the next few weeks we will be writing about how to backup and how to protect yourself online!
Part 2 of this series can be found here
Part 3 can be found here