The Importance of Backing up your website
Websites are no longer just something nice for a business to have, they are an important business tool, yet in surveys it was found that over 40% of companies don’t ensure that their website is safely backed up just in case the unimaginable happens like it breaking or worse being deleted from the web entirely.
This week 123-reg announced that during it’s routine server maintenance it had accidentally deleted some of it’s customer websites. To make the matter worse because some of these sites were on their unmanged VPS servers it didn’t have backups of some of the site that were affected. Because of this news we decided to write an article on some of the reasons why you should ensure that your website is backed up.
Why are backup’s important?
It’s not always your hosts responsibility to backup your website.
A lot of web hosting companies won’t offer backups as part of their standard hosting packages and will often require you to pay extra for this support. As such if you don’t get this support from your hosting company and don’t backup the website yourself should something happens to your site your provider might not be able to help you restore the files.
If you are unsure if your hosting comes with website backups contact your hosting provider to check the terms of your contract with them.
At the end of the day a server is just a computer and like all computers there is a chance that it could get a virus or have hard drive failure causing it to lose data.
Protection from hackers
While the aim of some hackers is to steal personal information such as credit card details, others just do it to prove that they can and cause inconvenience for the person that has been hacked. Ensuring you have a backup of your website means that should this happen to your website you are able to quickly restore it and get your site back up and running.
If you have a Content Managed Website you might have noticed when you’re asked to perform a security update that it tells you to create a backup before running the update. This is because websites have multiple files and components that make it work and store data, should anything go wrong with just one of these during an update then your entire website could be taken offline.
Original development files can become outdated.
A customer we had created a website for a few years back recently contact us because their website had been hacked. As we didn’t host the website and their chosen hosting provider didn’t keep backups of their files, the only backup they had to get their site back up and running was our stored development site. So because they didn’t have a backup plan in place it meant that they lost around 2 years worth of news and updates to their website and effectively had to start again from scratch.
Peace of mind
While there are a lot of technical reasons behind backing up a website doing it will also leave you safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens to your website you are able to react quickly to any issues and get it back up.
On Server Backups
Backing up your website onto your server is the quickest and easy solution to creating regular automated backups of your website. There is however one massive downfall to doing this, the backups are stored on the same sever as your website. So while they can be a good method to restore your site should it get hacked or an update fail should the server fail in anyway then you will lose your website and your site backups.
Backing up your site manually is the most low-tech method of backing up your website, although you could use it in combination with on server backups to ensure that you have an off server version of your site to hand should you require one. The biggest downfall of this method is that it isn’t automated so you need to remember to do the backup, plus if your website is big and you have a capped bandwidth usage then it can take some time to download the site and cost you in bandwidth.
Using a cloud based solution such as Amazon S3 or Dropbox is our pick when it comes to backing up websites. This method of backing up files is both automated and is stored in a separate location from the web server. Also as the storage size is flexible it can be increased as your website grows meaning you only pay for the space that you need for your backup.
Ask your Hosting Provider
While hosting companies may not do this as a standard practice a lot will offer this service for an additional cost, this could be the ideal method for those that don’t wish to do it themselves. While it does mean that you are relying on one company to both host and backup your website, the backups will be stored in a separate location to your actual website, meaning that should the website fail you will still have a backup of your site.
While there are many ways to back up your website the important message to take away from the disastrous events that happened with 123-reg is if you aren’t backing up your website start doing it now and ensure if it is a Content Managed website that it is backed up daily / weekly to ensure you always have a most recent copy of your data.
Also it is important to point out that you should also check your backups regularly to ensure they are backing up correctly and that the aren’t corrupting.