As someone whose business relies heavily on technology, I have to admit that I can be a pretty big tech nerd. I love seeing the latest & greatest technological advances and am interested in how these advances continue to revolutionize the way brands connect with their audience.
But as wonderful as technology is, we all know that it can sometimes fail us.
Websites are complex systems, and that means that there are countless ways things can go wrong; hackers, problems with hosting companies, and good old fashioned human error, to name a few.
So, how does a website owner reasonably prepare for the reality that technology can sometimes fail? A website backup system is the best insurance policy you can have for when something goes wrong with your website.
What is a Back-Up?
Your website is made up of a collection of files; each file contains code that tells a web browser how to display your site. Everything from your copy text & images, to information about site layout & user’s interactions, can all be found in your website files.
So what happens if something goes wrong with these files? Maybe a small bit of code gets deleted or moved; perhaps your hosting company accidentally deletes a file? These things happen more often than you’d think, and can cause total website failures.
A backup is a copy of your website files may be your saving grace. This copy can be used to restore a corrupted website. When you have a reliable backup system in place, you make many restore points available, and it essentially becomes a time machine for your website. When something goes wrong, you can make your website “go back in time” to a point before the error with the click of a button.
A Good Backup System
When it comes to website backups, we like to think of the three R’s; it should be regular, reliable & redundant.
How often should I backup my website? The answer to this question depends on your site. If it is relatively static, with very infrequent changes/updates, then once a week might be enough. On the other hand, if you regularly make site changes or have plugins that are updated, every day (or even more often) is a better plan. Whatever schedule you pick, it is crucial that you stick to it– a site that is regularly backed up is a happy site!
As we’ve seen, technology can fail. It’s true for websites, and it is true for backup systems. Make sure the tools & services you use have an excellent reputation and check on your backups! It is so easy to “set it & forget it,” but you should occasionally go in and make sure that your system is working– make sure the backup files are where they’re supposed to be, and if possible, test one in a local web development environment to ensure it works.
The best backup systems don’t rely on a single backup service; whenever possible, we recommend that folks use two or more backup providers. Having multiple lines of defense will give you even more confidence that you can bring your website back quickly when things go wrong.
How Do I Backup My Website?
One of the most straightforward solutions is to check to see if your hosting provider offers site backups; some hosts provide these for free, and others charge a small fee for the service.
Third Party Services
If your hosting company doesn’t offer backups (or you want to create redundancy), you might consider a third-party backup provider. We have always been impressed with Sucuri’s arsenal of services, and their backup system is excellent. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is also an affordable option, although it isn’t necessarily suited to beginners.
Use a Plugin
If you’re a WordPress user, there are also some great plugins available that can take care of backups for you. We’ve worked extensively with Updraft Plus, and depending on your needs, recommend either their free or premium systems. ValutPress & BackupBuddy both have stellar reputations as well.
It’s possible with some experience to manually backup your website. Because this is a little more advanced, we won’t cover the “how-to” in this post, but if you are interested in learning more about manually website backups, please let us know!
Again, because it is good to have redundant backup systems, we recommend that if possible, you use your host’s backup program PLUS a secondary system like one of the plugins above.
Let Dahl House Designs Handle Your Backups
Having a reliable backup system is an essential component of any website, which is why we include it in all of our Website Care & Maintenance packages. To give our website care clients peace of mind, we use two different backup systems daily.
In addition to the twice-daily scheduled backups, we also do a new backup before we perform any required site maintenance– If the unexpected happens during a plugin, theme or WordPress core update, we have a website snapshot that was taken just moments before to use as a restore point, resulting in zero data loss.