What would you do if you discovered that your website disappeared? You go to the URL, but nothing’s there. Or you visit your site, but it’s not your site at all; it’s selling cheap prescriptions instead. Are you prepared in cases of these kinds of emergencies?
Emergency preparedness doesn’t stop with your family and your home; your business should also be included, and website backups are one important part of that.
Why do you need a backup?
Your site could be hacked.
It happens with alarming frequency and happens more and more all the time. Most times, hacking is not necessarily the result of an attack specifically on you or your website. Rather, hackers create malicious programs that troll the internet, looking for websites to break into and disable—in other words, it’s for fun. If your site it hacked, it is compromised with malicious code or otherwise disabled. You may have a difficult time determining what’s causing the issue and how you were hacked. Would you have a clean and recent copy of your website to replace the hacked one?
A software update could have unintended consequences.
It’s always a good idea to keep your website’s software updated with their latest stable releases. However, some updates have unintended consequences because they are no longer compatible with other software or the customizations on your website. If that happens, can you roll your website back to the previous iteration?
Your hosting server could crash.
Web hosts go down. It’s inevitable. Most times, they go back up quickly, and you may never even know anything happened. But sometimes it’s worse. An attack on the web host or other large-scale failure may result in the loss of your website. If that happens, can you replace it?
How do you get a backup?
Unless your web host specifically offers a backup service (and you’d know because most likely, you’d be paying a premium for it), you probably are not getting regular backups for your website. Most low-cost shared web hosts do not provide backups for free.
So while premium web hosts may offer automatic backups as part of their packages, other web hosts may offer add-on backups for an extra fee. This can be one of the simplest ways to back up your website. Be sure to read reviews first to determine if the service is reliable.
Another option is to have your web developer add automated backup software to your website. For example, with WordPress sites, you could use UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy. Both can back up your website to external storage like Dropbox, Amazon, or Google Drive for a nominal fee.
What makes a good backup?
In a nutshell, make sure that your backup includes everything you need at the frequency you need.
If your website uses a database for any reason (ecommerce, calendaring, WordPress, etc.), make sure your backup includes the database, or your content may go missing.
If your web host also hosts your email, you need to make sure that your email profiles and messages are also backed up.
The best backups occur regularly, perhaps weekly for little-changed sites, daily for others, and hourly for ones with frequent activity and updates. Backups should also be automatic so that you don’t have to think about them; otherwise, you will forget!
A recovery plan
And should the worst happen, make sure you know where the backups are located so that you can either restore the website yourself or tell your web developer or other professional how to access the backup to restore your website.
A little forethought and planning can save a lot of headache later in the unfortunate circumstance of a lost website. No one likes to think about it, but if it were to happen, would you be ready?