Do You Regularly Back Up Your Website?

Posted in WordPress on May 16, 2014

At a networking event recently I got chatting to a coach who told me about her friend who had tried to transfer her website between two hosting companies and had been wrongly advised that the back up she took would restore her website ‘as is’.

It didn’t. It was just a back up of her content, i.e. pages and posts, but not the images or design and customisation of the site. You can imagine how she felt!

I’m sure she has re-framed it as ‘an opportunity to freshen up the design of her site’ and all those other ‘look on the bright side’ thoughts but how devastating is it to have to start again with anything when you thought you had things sorted. And you are always pushed for time, isn’t it!

Whenever I start working on a client’ website the first thing I look for is the back up option and more often than not – I don’t find one. So, my first job is to install a back up option.

When using WordPress we recommend the following plugins:

WP Backup plugin, which backs up the content (posts, comments and pages) into an SQL export file (to be used more often).
WP Timemachine plugin, which back up your tables (data) and your content and files into an archive in your Dropbox account. It also works with Amazon S3 if you choose to use that one instead (to be used every time before/after major design/functionality work has been done on the site).
BackupBuddy plugin, which will back up your tables and content using a schedule for backups and send your content out to a remote location. You can use Amazon S3, Dropbox, FTP and email. Although it’s a premium plugin for which you need to purchase a license – it’s well worth the features it offers.

More about BackupBuddy

The plugin backs up absolutely everything, which is one of the key advantages over competing services. You don’t want to be caught without a backup, but even if you have some form of backup there may sometimes be extra work to do in restoring your site to its full glory. You may have to remember the plugins you were using, how they were configured, and have a local copy of your theme files at the ready.

With Backup Buddy you really don’t have to worry about this. You expect that your databases, and therefor your content will be backed up, but you can rest assured here that your themes and plugins- as well as your configurations- will be saved right along with them. You can restore your entire site as if nothing ever happened.

Where your backups are stored can be an important feature, because many backups done by your webhost will store those backup files right on the same server as your website. A lot of things can go wrong with a site, and it’s usually not the case that the entire server is wiped, but what if? Your backups would be gone, too, if you had not remembered to download them manually.

Backup Buddy emails your full site backup to your address when it is created or updated, which makes for a very hands-off approach up until the day you need to look through your inbox to find the most recent copy, which is not a whole lot of trouble to go through. The files are also stored on your server, for convenience.

One of the great features here is that you can also send copies of your backups to services such as DropBox or Amazon S3, so you really don’t have to think about it at all, and having multiple copies in multiple locations can be a life saver. You probably don’t need quite that level of protection, but it’s sure nice that you have the choice.

Backup Scheduling

You can schedule backups to run periodically:

Monthly
Twice Monthly
Weekly
Daily
Hourly

When you choose to back up your WordPress site is up to you. The best way to figure out when you should schedule your back ups is by asking yourself this question: How much work do I NOT want to lose and have to redo from scratch? If you post once a month, a back up every three months or so might do just fine. If you post weekly and change pages often you could run weekly or fortnightly backups.

In BackupBuddy you can create multiple schedules with different settings – to suit your site. For example, higher traffic sites or sites with lots of comments might want to backup their database more frequently. Sites with less traffic and fewer updates might choose weekly or monthly full backups. You know your site best, but at the very least you should do a full backup once a month.

Once you’ve set up BackupBuddy, you can relax and know your site will have backups ready if you need them.

The bottom line is that you have to reconcile the headache of doing back ups with the headache of redoing lost work or design. There’s a middle ground somewhere, and only you can decide the point that works best with your workflow.

By Tamara Baranova

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