Almost every day there is a new headline about the latest high profile website crash. This is because, in large parts, website threats are a very real possibility. It is also a sad fact that many people do not have in place the right security and protocols to protect their data and their files from attack and also from human error – which occurs far more frequently than organisations and companies like to admit.
It is, therefore, vital that, whatever your situation, whether you are an individual, a small business owner, or a medium-sized firm, that you have procedures in place to backup your website and safeguard it against threats. By understanding the importance of a backup, you will be motivated to follow a regular backup schedule for your own website.
7 reasons to back-up your website
1. Computer Catastrophes
Storing a copy of your files on your computer is a good idea, but should your machine crash, get lost, or get damaged, then your files will be gone with it. Backing up your files remotely is a more practical option in the event that something happens to your machine.
2. Employee Errors
The truth is that people make mistakes. It’s perfectly possible that an employee or contractor might click a wrong button or delete a necessary file by accident. When you backup your files, there’s less chance that human error will mess up your operations.
Unfortunately, hackers have become commonplace on the web. While the aim of a hacker may be to steal credit card numbers and other sensitive information, often people hack websites merely to prove themselves or cause trouble. If your website is online, there is always the chance that it may become compromised.
Hackers and spammers can find a way to embed malware or virus into your website and bypass your security plugins, often in ways that are so stealthy, most website owners are not aware that their site has even been affected.
4. Malware and Viruses
Viruses, Trojan horses and other malware can find their way into your website even via third parties that are normally safe. You can download them unknowingly with a theme or plugin, or they can slip in through a chink in your firewall’s armour. Having backup files means that you’ will be prepared just in case your site starts acting in a strange way.
5. Minimise the damage
Whilst having to restore a website that has been backed-up can be irritating, the anxiety it causes is but nothing to the panic you may be feeling if unfamiliar error pages start appearing, and you have no backup solution in place.
6. Protects your website from server outages
Whilst many website hosts offer a very high degree of reliability, 100% guaranteed online access can never be guaranteed and system outages can, and do, occur. When this happens, the downtime can last for hours or even days. And even when servers are restored, some data can be lost and is irretrievable.
7. Updates gone wrong
Regular updates refer to updated features and increased security, but they do not always go as planned. This is why WordPress always tells you to perform a backup before updating. Websites have multiple components, including plugins, themes, software, and back-end programming. A faulty update to any of these can take an entire website offline for any amount of time.
How to back-up your website
Backing up a website does not take a lot of time and it is a worthwhile investment considering all of the threats that exist online, especially compared to the cost of restarting your site from scratch.
Here is a step-by-step guide how to do this.
Website host provider: Find out if your web host provides website backups as a service.
Website developer: Contact the person who designed and developed your website and ask them to do it for you. They should have enough knowledge of how content management systems work that they would be able to do a manual backup for your files.
Additional back-up: Use an additional “just in case” backup service. Many of these services exist, so do your research. Some are more cost effective than others, while others have software that is more or less user friendly.
Install a backup plugin: Install a backup plugin on your site. Some backup plugins allow you to schedule automatic backups, as well as send your files to cloud storage services like Dropbox.
If you have a smaller website, you might just choose to compress your files in a ZIP folder and email them to yourself. Again, this works best for small websites. So, if the size of your files is bigger than your email provider allows you to send or if you expect that the size of your site will expand, then look into one of the other backup options.
Save a copy of your files
It’s a good idea to also save a copy of your files on your computer, though you should also do this in addition to one of the other backup services or techniques. Having two copies of your files is never a bad idea, because better safe than sorry.
Store a copy of your files elsewhere or in the cloud
It is always a good idea to back-up and store a copy of your website in in another physical location or in the cloud in case there is fire or other catastrophic damage to where you are physically located.