Are you backing up your website? I hope your answer is not no! Don’t assume that someone else is doing it. I have heard all kinds of excuses about backups, such as “my host does backups so I don’t need to” or “my designer has a copy.”

These may both be true. And yet, you should still be backing up.

Let me expand on a few of these:

  1. My host backs up my site.
    This is sort of true. Most web hosts are backing up their servers regularly. However, they may not be doing it daily and they probably are not be storing indefinitely. You might have a month or even a few months of backups. And more than likely, those backups are not stored outside their data center. What happens in a catastrophic incident? Their entire data center gets damaged in a hurricane? Then you’re in a real trouble, because you don’t have a site and you can’t access your backups.
  2. My designer/developer has a backup.
    This is probably also true. The last thing I do when I finish a site and secure it is save a backup to my computer, so if for some reason my client is not backing up their site, I at least have one backup of it from when it was launched. But the minute you make any changes on your site, then that backup is no longer as useful. And every time you update it becomes less helpful. Imagine doing updates every week on your site for three months, then accidentally breaking your site and your only backup is three months ago? Not only do you have to restore the site, but then you have to redo all the updates you did.

My rules for website backups.

  1. Do them daily. Why daily? Because the web is an evolving place. Things change all the time. Whether you are making changes or not, things change on your server, things change on the web. Having a daily backup will be your savior if any of those things cause an issue on your site.
  2. Store them off site. Don’t save your backups to your web hosting account. Do you want to know the first thing a hacker will do if they get into your account and see a folder of backups? Yeah, those backups are being deleted. Save your backups somewhere off site. You can use Dropbox, Amazon S3, or even downloading to your desktop. Or all three! You can’t have too many backups. (Okay, you can probably go overboard. But in this case, more is usually not a hazard.)
  3. Back up both your database and your site files. Often times people will just backup the database and not their site files, or vice versa. It’s important to have both. You never know what might cause a problem that you’ll need a backup for. It could be a corrupt database or a deleted file. Having backups of both will save you.

Don’t want to spend your time doing this yourself? Automate it! There are lots of automation options! (New post on backup automation coming up next!)

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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