What is a Website Back Up, and Why It's Essential

Published: 03-Jan-2022
Last Updated: 29-Dec-2021
What is a Website Back Up, and Why It's Essential

One of the worst things that a human being can experience is an accident that causes loss or damage. It’s in those times that we are most thankful to have insurance policies. You may not realize it, but there’s an insurance policy that your website NEEDS to have in place - a website backup.

A website backup is a snapshot of the site and its contents at a specific moment in time. The design, the content, and other specific elements are saved and stored, usually in a third-party location.

If your website ever has a problem where data is lost, you can restore a backup in just a few minutes, and everything is back up and running. It limits any losses that you may have and ensures that your customers are still able to access your website, contact you and purchase your products or services.

Your hosting company will often have a backup service included, but these shouldn’t be relied upon. If the hosting company has a serious problem, such as the issue that happened to OVH in early 2021, then you may experience total data loss. If you properly prepare for a data disaster, then the damage can be undone with a 1-click restore. 

Prepare for a Major Disaster 

Cyber criminal works to attack a website.

When your website is down it costs your business money. According to a study by Datto, website downtime costs a small company $8,000 per hour. So don't rely on the default website backup offered by your hosting service. 

Take charge of your backup. One day your company may be the victim of a natural disaster, a malware attack, fall victim to hackers, your hosting company could go out of business, or there's always the possibility of something going wrong with an update. 

If you don't have a proper data backup, restoring your website is a time-consuming and expensive process. If you have an e-commerce website you have invested hours into optimizing product listings. Losing any or all of those listings means you will have to pay to do the same job twice. Additionally, if your website is down due to data loss you're losing revenue. Customers can't buy from your e-commerce store if your website isn't working. 

So put a great deal of thought and research into which backup plan you choose so that you retain control and peace of mind when something does go wrong. 

Best Practices:

  • Establish an internal team lead for website downtime and outages. If you don't have someone on staff who can handle the issue, establish an outside contact to call in case of an emergency. 
  • Develop, regularly update, and test your disaster recovery plan. 
  • Back up as much of your website as possible. Your backup should include: custom code, products, themes, categories, customer data, media library, orders, pages, blog posts.
  • Set your website to back up to multiple locations around the world (we recommend cloud storage backups or physical off-site backups). 
  • Minimum weekly backups after the initial backup. Daily backups for best results and hourly backups for e-commerce websites, membership websites, or a content-based website with high levels of traffic and updated content.

Backups are one of the simplest insurance policies for a website, but also one of the most overlooked. The number one time that website owners care about backups is after something awful has already occurred.

Take the time today to review how your website backups are taking place. If there’s nothing currently set up, take the time to create a backup strategy. The peace of mind knowing that you can simply restore your website from a previous backup is priceless.

Website Backup Options

Manual Backup

Please do not torture yourself with a manual backup in 2021. You and your team have more important things to do. A manual backup requires your team to remember to routinely back up your website data and monitor the entire download. If you read the best practices above, we recommend continuous backups every hour. Based on that recommendation, a manual backup is an extremely inefficient way to protect your website data. 

Automated Website Backup

For websites built on any platform, we recommend managed automatic backup services connected via File Transfer Protocol (FTP). An automated solution is the most efficient way to backup files.

An automated solution can be set to perform incremental backups or complete backups every day with no hands-on intervention by your team. These automatic routine backups will make your 1-click restore even sweeter because you're only losing a short period of web work.  

Backup Machine, Dropmysite, and Codeguard are all reputable automatic backup services. 

WordPress Website Backup 

Setting up backups requires a little technical knowledge, so if you or someone on your team has that technical experience, you can do this yourself today.

If you have a WordPress website, you can get started with a backup plugin such as UpdraftPlus. There is a free version of the plugin; however, you’ll want to upgrade to the premium version for a complete backup with off-site storage. 

They include access to their own backup service UpdraftVault in the purchase price. You can also connect to a third-party service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon S3.

Whether you choose to use UpdraftPlus or an alternative tool, you’ll want to ensure that you have good backup policies set up. This should include a minimum of at least one backup per week and ideally a 1-click restore. 

Wrap Up

93% of small businesses have adopted cloud backups. Are you included in that 93%? If not, you better be soon! Choose your backup solution (we recommend an automated one) and rest easy! 

The technology exists to make data backups easy and data loss a low probability. But it's on you to select a solution and develop a plan to make your recovery process quick and painless. It can either be one click or days of struggle.

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