Regardless of what type of website that you have, you need to back-up your websites on an ongoing and consistent basis. What would you do if your website got hacked? What would you do if your web-host goes out of business? What would you do if the server that hosts your website crashes hard? If the answer is, “I don’t know”, you’re walking on a tightrope without a safety net below you.
There’s always a possibility that something will happen where you lose the code-base and the database that powers your website. Do not assume that your web-host will backup your website for you. If you don’t want to rebuild your website from scratch in the event of a hosting disaster, you need to protect yourself with a solid backup strategy.
What makes for a rock-solid backup strategy?
Backup the files and the database. There are several dozen plugins that will perform WordPress backups and they are not all created equally. A good WordPress backup plugin will backup both the site’s database as well as the WordPress code base, your themes, plugins, and your uploads. Many people use the plugin WordPress Database Backup. This is not sufficient since it only backups the database and not the files that make up your website.
Backup off site. Some WordPress plugins will backup both your files and your code, but will store the backups locally on your web-server. This is a mistake. If your server’s hard-drive dies, you lose your site, the database and your backups. You need to make sure the backup is stored somewhere else than your webserver. This could be your home computer, another web-server or somewhere else in the cloud.
Backup automatically. Make sure that your backups do not require you to go in to your copy of WordPress and press the “backup” button on a daily or weekly basis. Your backups should happen automatically and on a schedule.
Have a restore plan. You need to make sure that you’re able to restore the backup to another web-server in the event that your server crashes, you have a dispute with your web-host or some other hosting catastrophe happens. If you’re not sure how to restore a database backup to MySQL, you need to have a technical resource available who can do that for you. This could be a freelance web developer or a friend who knows how to do some basic database and server work.
My WordPress Backup Strategy
I use a plugin called BackWPUp to backup all of my WordPress websites. I like BackWPUp because it will backup both of the site’s files and database to a zip-file, which is uploaded to a folder in my Dropbox account. The Dropbox account syncs with my desktop computer at home, another one of my web-servers in the cloud, and Dropbox’s servers. Backups also occur automatically every night at 3:00 AM.
I also know that if something were to happen to my server, I have a back-up web-host that I could get a new dedicated web-server from in a short amount of time. I also have the appropriate skillset to re-setup the sites on a new server if that is ever necessary.
My strategy might sound like over-kill, but my business loses about $400.00 per day that my web-server is down. If you have a smaller site, a weekly backup is probably sufficient, but make sure that it happens offsite and happens automatically.