The concept seems so simple, doesn’t it? Backup your website. In addition to web hosting, we also register domains and have been with Tucows for nearly 16 years. About two years ago they asked us if we would be willing to handle all the people that have bad web hosting companies and domain resellers that don’t handle their responsibilities to customer properly. So we agreed.
Since then we have seen and heard some of the craziest domain and hosting screw ups. This morning a gentleman called Bernie called, and Bernie lost his domain because of one of these bad domain resellers and that’s how he ended up on our phone. Very long story short, he spent hours building a website for his church only to have that website just vanish. So I thanked him for today’s blog post idea. Why and how anyone should back up a website.
So first let’s establish why backup your website. It seems so basic I shouldn’t need to say it. However, there are a few circumstances that should be considered. First off as I am saying have a backup, I mean outside the web host or your office building. Having a backup on the servers hard drive does not count. Having one in Dropbox/One-Drive
So here are a few reasons why you need a good backup:
#1. Most web hosts do not back your website up, especially low-cost solutions
#2. Your web hosting company goes dark
#3. If your web host has a copy, their version may be corrupt, or doesn’t include recent updates.
#4. You need a copy if you ever want to move elsewhere
#5. Acts of God, think tornado or Explosion. You need an off-site backup
The first three items are the issues we normally see. Something bad happens and bam the website is gone. It is one of the reasons that I don’t like the wix/weebly/web people either. You cannot back those sites up to move your site elsewhere. It puts anyone at the mercy of their web host.
On alternative that I talk a lot about Wordpress and WordPress hosting. And that too has its own set of issues, but I think this makes a far easier set of circumstances. The first thing to understand is the difference between hosting a WordPress site (.org) vs. Free WordPress (the .com site). If you build on .com, you are using a free version that does not allow some of the most popular
If you build on .com, you are using a free version that does not allow some of the most popular plugins, but it’s a great learning tool. The only issue is when your ready to graduate the site can be moved via importing and exporting posts. The .org version allows you to have cool tools like the Updraft Plus backup solution. That migrates your site. Migration moves the site in tact, where as the import/export function will only keep your content.
Updraft is really a great tool. It allows you to backup your site prior to making changes. It also allows you to easily restore a site if you make a huge mistake. I found this out the hard way when I tried to change the theme on this site and blew up my navigation. Had I taken my own advice I could have easily reverted the site. Instead, I had to get my system admin involved to help me recreate the parts of the site that got decimated.
If you aren’t running a WordPress site you need to investigate what backup methods are available. I am a big proponent of using Dropbox as an offsite backup solution for both Computer and a website. It can be as easy as downloading your files to a folder that will sync with Dropbox.
And if your a mid-size or large corporation, you should have a disaster recovery plan. Again Explosion or Earthquake. Flood or Failure of hardware. As I type this you would again be surprised at large corporation that does not have proper backup systems in place. One system we are high on is Datto. It allows quick server restores in the event of failure. But there is a cost and many businesses shy away from it.
As I am sitting in my office, I hear my staff on the phone with yet another person without a backup asking if we can help them move their site. We have no problem doing things like this, but the reality is if people would simply have a backup, their lives woudl be much easier.