Back Up Your Website – Just Do It!
Do you backup your WordPress site regularly? Imagine waking up one day and not finding your website on the internet!
To avoid losing your hard work and potential income, you must have a backup stored safely where you can grab it to restore your site.
Last year having a backup saved my site. It disappeared from the internet after I changed the domain name. The first thing I checked was the DNS address because if the name servers do not point to the right host address, domain mapping will not work and no one will see your blog. In my case, the DNS settings were fine.
My host back then confirmed that my blog was missing. The most likely explanation was that I inadvertently deleted or moved critical files while tinkering in cPanel.
Risk of Data Loss
Aside from human error, websites can become inaccessible or vanish for many reasons, such as server crashes caused by storms or natural disasters or someone initiating a DoS (denial of service) attack. Or spreading malicious codes or hacking, to name a few risks. A common mistake is to think that a website is too small or of no interest to hackers because it has no payment or credit card activity.
A while back I was a member in a popular advertising program that had 30,000 members and a network of sites. They had located the entire network on one dedicated server. The server suffered a catastrophic failure, and they had no offsite backup. The owner lost the source of his entire income overnight and the members lost their advertising campaigns and referral commissions.
The statistical probability is that you will thank your lucky stars one day that you had a full backup of your site.
Web Host Backups and Storage Options
My hosting service at the time (I have since moved to a better one) said they would restore my site from their system backup, but it could take a few days, unless I had a full backup available, in which case they would do the restore immediately.
Thankfully I had a current backup in my Dropbox account. Other storage services to consider: Google Drive, s3 Amazon, Rackspace, One Drive. If you are a member at Wealthy Affiliate, you already know their hosting service is excellent.
This post is not a tutorial on backing up your WordPress. There are several methods and no shortage of expertise on the web and YouTube.
A good backup plugin can be a tremendous time saver, especially when managing multiple sites. If you do not have a routine for doing backups, or worry that you might forget, by all means use a plugin that will automatically back up everything on a preset schedule.
Not all plugins will give you a complete backup or include scheduling. Some back up only your files; some back up parts of your database, and some plugins may not be compatible with the hosting server system.
The fact is you don’t really know how well your backup strategy is working until you need to restore your website. It’s a good idea to test it on a testing sub domain.
I used WP Clone last year when I moved the content of this site to my new domain. Cloning and imaging technology is improving and having an image of your website’s hard drive is emerging as a popular option for transferring websites to new domains or other hosting providers. Especially as it enables faster and easier system restores, particularly of smaller niche sites. But time will tell whether this will keep pace with WordPress developments.
A drawback is that cloning captures the image of the hard drive at one point in time, so, as with data files, you need to implement a regular backup schedule and keep your disks in a safe location. This uses up a lot of resources for a backup process.
If you go with a cloning plugin, test it from time to time by rebooting the cloning disk on a test sub domain, and make sure the site is functioning as it needs to (not just looks the same).
I recommend backing up with UpDraft Plus but be sure to check with your hosting service provider whether it is compatible with their hosting system.
At the very least, if you are using WordPress, use the built-in Import and Export Tool to back up the main content of your site. Although this will not save your theme files or plugin settings, at least you will have a backup of the important content of all of your posts and pages. Themes and plugins can be more readily re-installed or replaced.
Restoring Your Backups
Some hosts do not give you the facility to restore the entire website in one go from cPanel though they enable partial backups and restores, and that may be all you need.
Hosting resellers who use WHM (web hosting manager) do not have this restriction. There is no need to use plugins or worry about partial backups as WHM tools enable you to restore sites quickly.
For the rest of us, restoring an entire site can be daunting. Usually you first have to delete all files located in the public html folder. That’s scary. What if your backup file is corrupted, or you mess up? Some experts recommend creating a sub domain and restoring your backup there as a test before doing so on your main site.
Even if your host performs daily system backups, it does not mean they will provide you with a backup or that they will extract your backup as quickly as you would like. They probably host thousands of sites. If you have a membership site, do you want your site to be down for a day or two? Having your own full backup should speed up the restoring process.
Fortunately I use WA SiteHosting and in addition to the other premium benefits, they provide top notch hosting support for all of my needs, including fast site restores. But not all hosting services include this service.
Remember, your backup is only as useful as your ability to restore your site or to have your hosting service do it for you. If using WordPress, research the latest and best plugins available to both backup and restore your site.
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