Everyone who has a website knows it — backups are very important, and we should all have well-laid data backup strategies in place. Unfortunately, it seems that some of us don’t really create enough backups, and fewer still are the people who have a solid backup strategy. While it is an unattractive outcome, the fact is that data can get lost. And when your business depends on the data you store, collect, and publish, losing it isn’t an option. While leading web hosting providers offer backup solutions, it is not really their prerogative. Ensuring an effective backup strategy is the responsibility of the site owner.
So, if you lose data, and people who’ve been in the industry long enough will also tell you that at some point, the onus of recovery of this data is actually on you, the website owner. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to back up your website, how frequently you have to do it, and what sort of strategy might help you best.
Understanding Website Backups
If you have had your website for one year and you take a full backup today, the stored website is today’s website. One year from now, if your website fails and today’s backup is the only one available, you will lose an entire year’s data. That includes new text, pages, images, videos, blogs — everything!
For some websites, content is all that they do in terms of marketing. So, losing contacts may very well mean that you’ve lost your fundamental marketing tool. The pith of the matter here is that backups cannot be a one-time affair. You need to have a comprehensive backup strategy for your website.
How to Backup Your Website?
There are two basic ways you can take care of backups — manual and automatic.
1. Manual Backup
- It’s the ultimate low-tech backup method. Simply put, you download all the data on your website to a local computer. When data is lost, you use your backup to get your website up and running.
- The advantage of this method is that you don’t need any software for it. You don’t even need a whole lot of technical know-how. It’s a pretty simple way of going about it.
- However, there are disadvantages. One, you have to do it again and again. Also, if you have a media-heavy website, downloading it will take time and bandwidth.
- Also, you cannot download changed or modified files exclusively. So, let’s say that you added a few credits at the end of a video on your website. There’s no way to download that exclusively. This means that you’ll have to download it all again.
- Finally, there’s space and organisation. You’ll need lots of the former and even more of the latter to keep track of all the different versions that you’ve downloaded.
2. Automatic Backup
- Automatic backup, as the name suggests, is a way of backing up your website and its contents without any interference from you. All aspects of backups, from creating files to storing them securely, is taken care of by the software.
- Within automatic backup, there are several types of applications that are available. Some offer complete automation while others take a more hybrid approach, in that they require minimal human intervention.
- The advantage is obvious — you don’t have to get involved. Depending on the software, all that you might need to do is just install the application.
- The disadvantage is simple — these applications cost money.
Executing Robust Data Backup Strategies
While both methods of backups have their own advantages and disadvantages, the fact is that relying on just one type isn’t safe. A good backup plan should account for failures in these methods as well.
So, how to execute the best backup plan for your website? Here are a few things that you have to do:
- Use automatic backup software: Buy good automatic backup software like CodeGuard. The amount that you pay is completely worth it. It is tedious to take a backup every day manually. You’ll have to store it, organise all the files, and make sure that they’re easily accessible when things go wrong. What’s more, it’s a herculean task if you update your website often.
- Manual backups are still a must: Irrespective of how good your automatic software is, it’s always safe to have a copy of it offline. The best way to do this is to create a manual backup every once in a while. It does not have to be often. If your website isn’t updated a lot, taking a manual backup once every year is fine. However, if you update your website quite regularly, make sure you take a manual backup once every six months. The idea here is to ensure that you have a reasonably updated copy of your website even if your backup software completely fails. Now, this won’t probably happen at all. But if it does, you’ll have a usable copy of your website.
- Follow the 3-2-1 rule: The rule itself is quite simple — you should have three copies of your website, these copies should be in two different places, and one of these places must be offline. This could be your computer or a simple external hard disk.
Backups and Hosting
Good web hosting providers also offer automated backups with their hosting plans. A lack of an effective data backup plan can cause years of your hard work to simply vanish. Having a great backup plan for your website is to avoid just that. Execute a solid backup plan for your website to be sure that even if you do lose data, you’ll always have an updated and usable copy that can be put to work.
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