Backups.  No doubt you’re accustomed to hearing about the importance of backing up your computer on a regular basis.  You probably have your phone backed up in some way so that you don’t lose all your contacts and pictures.  Both of those tasks are extremely important steps to take when safeguarding your data.  The same goes for your website.  In almost 20 years of technical work I have needed a website backup many more times than a computer or phone backup.

Website backups serve a number of useful purposes.  They can serve as an archival copy of the website.  Archival copies are useful when you’re looking for that one piece of information that you KNOW you used to have on your site.  Or when you need to prove you had certain information on your site in the past, for example, when defending a copyright infringement claim.  The backup comes in handy when you can show you had the information published first.

Most often, however, the website backup is most important when something happens to your site and you need to restore it.  If there is a problem with the server and the data becomes corrupted or partially lost a good backup can save you.  When technology in your website is incompatible with another program you’re attempting to integrate and the website breaks as a result, a good backup can save you.  And when you get an email from your hosting service informing you that your website has been hacked, a good backup can save you.

SAVE Yourself!  Make sure you have a good website backup!

Set up a schedule for backing up your website.  If you can automate the process you will be more successful.  But just because it’s running on its own, don’t forget to check those backups periodically.  Make sure the backup is running as scheduled and make sure the backup is a good set of files.  It’s no fun to reach for your backup because your website went down just to find out it’s no good.

How to back up your website will depend on how the website is built.  If the site is a fairly straight forward HTML site with no database, then backing up the website is a simple matter of making a copy of the website files.  This can be done with most website design tools, like Dreamweaver, or FTP clients that enable you to log into your website hosting and download a copy of the entire site.  Compress those files into a ZIP file, or any other archive format you prefer, and store it somewhere safe so that it’s ready for you when you need it.

If your site is a WordPress site, or some other platform that uses a database, there are additional parts to the website to be concerned with.  WordPress sites consist of the website files in your main hosting account as well as the database file, which is found on a separate server specially configured for databases.  You need to get ALL of it to have a working backup of your site.  And manually downloading a copy of the database can be tricky.  But don’t worry, in the case of WordPress there are lots of plugin options and services that make it easy for you to automate, archive, and restore your site.  Some of those solutions are free, some have a cost.  If you’re not good with the technology it is worthwhile to pay for a backup service.  The first time you need the backup the service will pay for itself and then some!

The main point is to be sure you make those backups.  

When you have a good backup of your website and a problem comes up all you have to do is restore the site and you’re up and running again.  This can often be done in minutes.  Without a good backup, you could find yourself rebuilding the site from scratch.

Having a regularly scheduled backup in place will not only save you a lot of grief some day, it will also provide you with the peace of mind that comes with being prepared.

If you need help with a backup solution for your website please feel free to contact Don Miller Design.