Most of us understand the need to back up the files and documents on our computers. We save a copy on the desktop or in a file folder somewhere on the hard drive. We store another copy in the cloud. We might even go so far as to put a third copy on an external hard drive or a thumb drive. However, did you know that it’s just as essential that you have an option for backup for a website?
Why Back Up Your Website?
Your website and most of its content are out there in the ether. The data is stored and hosted on a server on which you’re renting space from a company that might be half a world away, and that you’ll never visit in person. It’s tempting to think that your website is pretty secure – you’re in good hands. However, that may not be the case. Even the most secure servers can experience breaches, and even the most reputable of hosting providers can accidentally delete customer websites. If you don’t have a backup for your website, you could experience serious problems if this were to happen.
First and foremost, understand that it is not your hosting provider’s responsibility to back up your website. It’s yours. Most hosts do not do this for you. You also can’t afford to back up just the original development site. Yes, that will give you back the bones of the site in a worst-case scenario, but websites are living, breathing things that grow and change.
If you’ve only got the skeleton, you’ll lose all the flesh and muscle (content) that has grown over time. Finally, having a current backup copy of your website ensures that you’re able to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible to ensure that you’re not missing out on sales, and that your customers aren’t defecting to a competitor.
So, how do you ensure that you have a backup for your website? There are several different options out there, but they’re far from being the same.
First, you can definitely do things manually. However, this is time consuming and can be frustrating. It must be done daily, too, so you’ll need to leave time in your schedule for this. Also, if your site is large, it can take a lot of time to FTP those files. Finally, some compliance regulations make FTP impossible (HIPAA, for instance). In these instances, you won’t be able to FTP files from the web host to your server or a backup storage device.
Second, you can utilize cPanel if it’s installed on your server. You’ll find that cPanel makes a backup for a website relatively simple, but you’ll need to make sure you’re following the instructions correctly. Obviously, cPanel must first be installed on your server. You also need to make sure to download the copy to your hard drive when cPanel finishes backing up. Never leave the only copy of your backup on the off site server. If the server experiences an outage, you won’t have access to your backup.
Plugins are another solution, particularly for WordPress websites. There are numerous high-quality backup plugins out there that will let you handle this with relative ease. You might also choose to back up to the cloud by using something like Amazon S3, or even a cloud storage platform like Google Drive, Dropbox or SkyDrive.
No matter how you choose to do it, having a backup for a website is absolutely crucial. Make sure you back up frequently, and that copies of the file are always accessible.