Protect Your Website with Backups
Picture it …
You are starting your morning, and you sit down at your computer with your cup of coffee or tea to start your day and then find out your website has been hacked, your files have been infected with a virus, or your server is down.
Your next thought could be one of two things …
“Oh !$@# – there goes days, weeks, months, years of my work!
And then you proceed to spend the entire day, and maybe even much of the following week, trying to restore your website.
“Ok … this is not how I wanted to spend my morning, but I will do some troubleshooting, and if nothing else works, I can restore everything from my backups and quickly resume working!”
Making sure you have a recent backup of your website files is one of the most important things you can do to protect your website. If something happens, and at some point, it will, you’ll be glad you took the time to create a backup!
Instead of hoping that “it won’t happen to me”, be proactive and create an automated backup plan that works for you.
Where to Start, What to Do?
As with everything else, there are lots of different ways to do backups, and everyone has their preferred tool and storage location.
The method I use is the 3-2-1 backup rule.
What is the 3-2-1 backup rule?
There is a classic rule of backups
- Three copies
- On two different types of media
- One copy is off-site
This rule is a little outdated … the two different types of media used to refer to hard drives, tape drives, and copying files to a CD!
I will show you how I handle backups for my websites, the sites of my maintenance clients, and all my files – both business and personal, but using updates to the 3-2-1 rule to utilize current storage methods.
My 3-2-1 Backup Philosophy
- Three copies
- Copy #1 is the original file, document, or photo.
- Copy #2 and Copy #3 are created using different methods
- Two different locations
- Copy #2 and Copy #3 are saved in different locations
- At least one copy is saved on an automatic, routine schedule
My Method to Backup Websites
Your website can crash for several reasons
- The site can be infected with malware or a virus
- An update or change you made to the site could break it, and it can be time-consuming to find what needs to be fixed
- Your server could crash, and your data could be lost
These are just some of the things that can go wrong, and a recent backup will help you quickly recover and move forward with what you originally had planned for the day and week, instead of spending your limited time trying to fix or clean-up or site … or it the worst case scenario, starting over from scratch!
For both my own websites and my clients’ sites I use the following 3-2-1 backup routine:
- Copy #1 is the website on the server
- Copy #2 is the backups that my hosting company provides
- Copy #3 is a copy created and stored by a service I use called BlogVault
At least two different locations
Each of the three copies I save, are at different locations.
- Copy #1 is located at my website host.
- Copy #2 is stored “in the cloud” … so it is not located on the same server as the original copy of the website. This is critical because if your server crashes, and that is where your backups are also located, then they are also gone.
- Copy #3 is also stored “in the cloud”, but in a different location than copy #2. The benefit is that if one of the backups is corrupted or that storage location is down, then the other one is available.
Both copy #2 and copy #3 can easily be downloaded for further safekeeping to a computer, external hard drive, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.
One copy (at minimum) is saved on an automatic, routine schedule
In my case, both copy #2 and copy #3 are automatically saved on a regular basis.
- Copy #2 is automatically created every day, and each copy saved for seven days
- Copy #3 is automatically created every day, and each copy saved for 90 days!
Other FAQ About Backups
How about using a plugin to do backups?
You can use a plugin to create automated website backups if your website is a WordPress website. There are many free and paid backup plugins available, so test a few and see what works for you and decide which features are helpful to you.
The backup plugin I have the most experience with is UpdraftPlus Pro. One of the benefits of this plugin is that the larger the website is the more files UpdraftPlus Pro breaks the backup into – making it more manageable to create and move the backup. One downside I have noticed is that the backup can stall and end up not finishing.
How often should a website be backed up?
The answer will depend on how often your website is updated or changed.
For basic websites that don’t have a lot of change in content and aren’t critical to a business’s day-to-day operation, I recommend backing up on a similar schedule to when you do updates. For most websites that fall into this category, I update and back up the site once a week unless there are critical updates that need to be done sooner.
For most business websites on my website maintenance plan, I run daily backups. This gives my clients and me peace of mind that the website can be restored if anything goes wrong.
Last, I use a service with a real-time backup feature for e-commerce websites that do a high volume of transactions. This assures that a backup will have all the data needed for these businesses.
How long should backups be kept?
There is no hard rule for how long you should save backups, so it depends on your comfort level. My comfort level is 90 days – this assures that I have plenty of backups for “just-in-case”, while not having too many old versions that are missing the newer content posted on the website.
Do I have to spend money on storage space?
You don’t necessarily need to go out and purchase more cloud storage space or an external hard drive to save your backups. Look around at the subscriptions you already pay for and see if you have unused space. Some examples are:
- If you have any free Google Gmail accounts, they come with 15 GB of storage
- If you use Google Business accounts for your business email, they come with 30 GB or more of storage space, depending on the plan you are on
- Do you pay for Microsoft 365 to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint? It comes with 1T of storage space!
With my 3-2-1 backup strategy, I never worry that my website or my clients’ websites will be lost!
So, where should you start?
First, develop a 3-2-1 backup strategy that makes sense to you. In your strategy, decide how you will do the backups (an external tool, a plugin, or manually) and where you will store the backups.
Next – create your first backups, and make sure that strategy works well for you
Last – automate the backups. Backups are only worthwhile if they are done, and the best way to ensure they are is to have them done automatically.