Losing your website data can be catastrophic. It means you have no website, no content, no subscribers and no records of customer details or purchases. Yet, despite the fact that over 40% of the companies it happens to fold instantly, almost 60% of businesses do not have an effective backup solution. In this post, we’ll look at why you need to back up your data and show you different ways you can do it.
Website backups are essential because data loss can happen easily and unexpectedly. All it takes is one careless employee to click on the wrong button and your entire file system and everything in it could be deleted. There’s also the chance that the server on which your website files are stored will fail, making the data irretrievable. Even the datacentre where it’s stored could become victim to a fire, flood or other natural disaster. If that isn’t reason enough, there is the constant threat from hackers who use increasingly sophisticated tools to infect your website with malware or ransomware that corrupts the data beyond repair. Or they might just break in and delete your files without you knowing.
Even seemingly innocuous activities, like updating your software or installing a new plugin can have devastating effects if they are corrupted or cause software conflicts.
There are other reasons why you need to back up data, too. If you collect personal data about employees and customers on your website, you have an obligation under the Data Protection Act and GDPR to keep it secure. That doesn’t just mean preventing it from being stolen, it also means stopping it being lost altogether.
For most companies, starting from scratch after such a disaster is impossible. There is not enough money in the kitty to keep them going until the site is rebuilt and, even then, they may have lost many of their existing customers and find that potential new ones see them as a security risk.
The chances are, it’s the end of the road.
Backups should be made routinely so that whenever your site is updated there is a copy of the latest version available. Doing this ensures that software, content and customer data is up to date. How frequently you do this depends on your specific website. If you sell online and are regularly taking orders, you may need continual backups to make sure no orders are lost. If your website only changes occasionally, such as when there’s a plugin update, you may only need weekly backups.
One of the most important considerations when making a backup is that the backup itself is secure. If you were to create a backup and save it in one of your website directories, for example, then any issue that destroys your website data will also destroy the backup. For this reason, it needs to be stored remotely, i.e., at an entirely different location to the server on which your website runs.
There are three main ways to backup website data: creating your own backups, using a backup plugin or using your web host’s remote backup service.
Creating your own backup is the most time consuming and technically challenging way to save your data but it is possible. Essentially it means copying the files from your server and saving them on a separate drive, such as your laptop or a storage drive. Because of the size of the files, it may mean zipping them first.
The issue with this method is that it makes taking regular backups a bit of a chore and people can easily get out of the habit, putting your site at risk. It can also cause storage problems if you are struggling for disk space as you should always keep an earlier version of your backups just in case the latest is corrupt.
For those who run WordPress and other CMS sites, an alternative solution can be found in the form of plugins or add-ons. These can be configured to create scheduled backups, relieving you of the hassle of undertaking them manually. Many of these plugins work in conjunction with online storage solutions, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, however, you will need to ensure you have adequate space to store several backups.
Perhaps the easiest and most effective solution is to use your web host’s remote backup service. Although this method isn’t free, it is low cost and provides a greater degree of security by ensuring your data is encrypted, which is vital for those that store the personal data of customers. In addition, backups are stored at a different location to your website server, data is checked to ensure integrity (i.e., if you need to restore your site, you’ll know the backup files are not corrupt), and if the worst happens, you’ll have 24/7 technical support to help you get your site back up and running.
As you can see, website backups are an easy way to prevent what could be a potentially business-ending crisis. Losing data can be devastating without a reliable way to restore your site. With a backup, even if the worst happens, your site can be back online in no time with only the minimal of disruption to your service.
For more information on backing up your website files check out our remote backup service.