Let’s Talk about Backups

If there is one thing that has been hammered into my mind in 12 years of working in IT… backups! You almost never hear about backups, except the devastating results when they *don’t* exist. Although it is getting easier and more common to do your own backups, there do seem to be some gaps in the most common practice.

What to back up?

Well, your files, first. This is probably the first thing you think of, right? And if you do back anything up, it is probably your files- documents, photos, videos. A good start!

But what about your website? Is your website backed up? If something happened and your site was gone, how many hours (or, how much money, if you didn’t build it yourself) would you lose? How many clients would you lose while it was gone? I have heard from 2 different people this week who lost their site entirely and had to start over- it’s devastating!

Many website platforms will do backups for you. For WordPress sites, you can always do a manual backup of your files via FTP, and export your database as well. There are plugins, however, that make this much easier- just one click to backup and restore! If you do not use WordPress, as your site’s support how to save a backup. If there response is you can’t, well, I’d be happy to talk to you about switching to WordPress. 😉 Your host may also keep backups, but they may either charge to save them, or charge you to use them, make sure you read the fine print!

How to back up?

1. Offsite

If you back up your files, you most likely put them on an external hard drive. That’s excellent! However, consider what would happen if your home is robbed, or burns in a fire. Are all your client files gone? Your wedding photos? Photos of your kids? Off-site backups are essential. The easiest are cloud services. Dropbox or Google drive are good in a pinch for your most essential files. Better options are services like Crashplan or Carbonite, since they also automate the process (more on automation below). If you have a large amount of archive data, a service like Amazon S3 is very affordable for storing large amounts of data. If you absolutely can’t use a cloud service, at the very least copy your data to hard drives or DVDs and store them in a safe deposit box.

What about your website? If your site has backups for you, they are likely stored on the same host as your actual site. Now, the chances of something happening to that host and entirely wiping it out may be slim (since they will have their own offiste options) but the more places your data is stored the better. If you have a WordPress site, there are plugins that easily send your backups off to cloud storage! My personal favorite is UpdraftPlus. If your site does not have full backup options, at the very least save copies of your content- page text and images- in a location all together wherever your off-site storage is for your file system.

2. Automated

Ideally your backups are automated- it eliminates the human failure element. We all get busy and forget, and the less work for you to do the better, right? Many external hard drives come with their own automated backup software. If yours doesn’t, your Operating System can do it as well.

Here’s a good resource for Windows: https://www.winhelp.us/configure-automatic-backup-in-windows-7.html

And here’s one for Apple: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201250

If you happen to use Crashplan, you can also use that to back up to your own external drive auomatically in addition to cloud storage.

For your WordPress site, a plugin like UpdraftPlus is easily able to be scheduled to send backups on a schedule, with no intervention needed from you! Set it and forget it.

3. Regular

An out of date backup can be just as bad as not having one at all. If your backup is automate, make sure it is set to back up on a a regular schedule. If you’re a photographer with a new shoot every day, make it daily. If you update your blog once a week, back up weekly. If you make a big change to your website, and your backup isn’t scheduled to run right away- do a manual one to make sure your changes can’t be lost!

Need help?

If any of this is confusing, or you realize there are things you need to do and aren’t comfortable doing them, contact us! For WordPress sites we have packages to set up an entire backup system for you- for anything else we’re happy to work with you and your specific situation. This tends to be an area that gets neglected until you get burned by it- don’t let that be you!

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