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Does your site have a backup?

By Heshy Friedman

Every person and organization needs to have a data backup plan to ensure their valuable information doesn’t get lost. Occurrences such as computer crashes, malware intrusions, theft, fires, and floods are all too common, and it’s important to be able to recover your data in the event of one of these disasters.

Just like your need to back up your data and files, you need to make sure your website is also backed up. Events can also occur that can cause a website to go down and the files lost.

Proper protocol for website backups include a three-layered system for protection:

  • A local backup copy of the website at the time of production
  • A backup service or plugin that backs up the website regularly
  • An automated backup by the hosting company

A local backup should be created whenever a website is released. For static websites, website files should be stored locally, and whenever an update to the website is made, the changes should be done locally and then uploaded to the server. This leaves a mirrored copy of the website on a local computer.

For dynamic and data-driven websites, a local file copy and database backup should be saved at the time of production. Although data-driven website content changes regularly, having an original back-up allows you to restore files or database table structure in the event of accidental file deletions on the server or malware that corrupts a website file.

Backup services provide functionality that run periodical backups on set or defined schedules. A good example is UpdraftPlus, a plugin for WordPress websites that allows users to schedule automated website backups as well as create backup checkpoints. UpdraftPlus also allows configuration of offsite website backups, which is very important for dynamic websites in case the hosting server is shut down. (For static sites, when changes and updates are mirrored locally, backup services are not necessary.)

Backups performed by a hosting company are also a very important, and can allow for easy restorations. Most hosting providers provide a backup service, and these are often automated and can very useful for an easy restore in the event of a hacking or malware incident. However, this service is usually limited, and will not protect in the event a failure or shutdown of hosting services. Such backups are also for only a short time duration, and will not help if the discovery of the problem is beyond the backup checkpoint. Server backups should not be relied upon as a sole method of backup. Even those servers employing a premium backup service like CodeGuard should not be entirely relied up, as problems can occur in the event of a hosting failure or account website or server shutdown.

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