Imagine this. Your business-to-business website is working beautifully. You’re attracting visitors, converting them to customers, up-selling, cross-selling, and building beautiful long term relationships. You’re liked and trusted by your audience. Then, out of the blue... bang, there goes your website.
Maybe something has gone wrong with the hosting end of things, perhaps you’ve been badly hacked and infiltrated, suffered a DNS problem, a programming error, a dodgy plug-in, even an expired domain. When it happens, it’s horrifying. And that’s why, if you’re searching for information about website backup, you need this article.
A website backup isn’t just a sensible thing to do, an important thing, a handy thing. It’s an absolutely essential thing. As an experienced professional Oxford based B2B website design agency it’s our job to make sure our readers know the ins and outs of best practice, and a website backup comes close to the top of the list. In a world where 40% of SMEs don’t back up their websites, you’ll want to read on to find out all the reasons why you should take website backups very seriously indeed.
Just one more thing before you start: if you haven’t backed up your website, do it the second you finish reading this article. Seriously, please don’t leave it any longer!
So what is a website backup? A website backup is a copy of all your website data, basically a copy of every piece of data on the website.
What are the most important files to backup? There are some things your site can’t do without. You can’t rebuild and recreate a website without its core site files, databases, themes, plugins, uploads and media files, for example video and imagery. Depending on what you sell and to whom, you might also need to backup a suite of additional valuable site resources. The exact contents of the backup depend on your backup provider, but as a rule it’s better safe than sorry, best to backup everything you possibly can.
The purpose of a website backup is to let you restore the entire site if you need to. Maybe you make changes to your website every day as new stock becomes available, old stock is sold off, you create new images or add more pages and posts. It’s vital to keep track of every update and amendment so you can restore the whole site quickly if it goes down the tubes. You might need to backup every day, maybe several times a day if your site contents are particularly dynamic.
Even if your site’s relatively static, the last thing you need is having to reconstruct it, rewrite all the pages, re-load all the images, rebuild the databases. It’s more than merely tricky. It can be impossible. And all the time your site is down you’re losing custom, losing exposure, losing money, and losing your brand’s hard-won reputation.
Where do you store your backups? These days the cloud is the most popular place for backups, but you can also save it to a separate hard drive or a disk for belt-and-braces security. Bear in mind it’s never a good idea to store backups in the same place as the website.
Why should you backup your website? There are many reasons, the first being it isn’t your host’s responsibility to back up your site. It’s yours. And it’s no good just backing up the original development site. It’ll be an old version. It’s also important to know that when users provide some of your most valuable content, maybe via a forum or blog, the content only exists on your site. It isn’t stored anywhere else unless you back it up.
If you’ve been the victim of malware, backups will resolve the impact of the malware since you can re-upload your pages and content to an earlier, un-hacked, safe version. Sometimes hacker infiltration leaves you unable to control a site, prevented from accessing it in the usual ways. Restoring the site to a backup lets you regain access, which makes backups one of your best weapons against malware.
Now and again you might suffer from update issues, where a core site file update, theme update, plugin update or another update type can adversely affect the site. Again, restoring to a pre-update backup overcomes these issues. Backups also help you fix user errors. People do make mistakes. If you’ve ever accidentally deleted a critical file from your CMS, or deleted some of the content, you’ll know the score. Restoring to a backup fixes this kind of problem, too.
Speed is essential. If your site goes down you’ll want to get it back up and running in no time, before you lose custom and trust, and before Google’s algorithm picks up on the fact your downtime record isn’t always the best. It’s a peace of mind thing, really. For marketing and commerce reasons you want to be in a position where all you do is click a few buttons to get things back up and running.
Now and again coding issues can lead to lost data, either removed or deleted thanks to circumstances out of your control. Restoring to a backup should restore the lost data. And backups support site migration as well, for example enabling a smooth and accurate site transfer to an alternative host.
It’s good to know most hosting environments provide simple website backup facilities for you to tap into. One of the most popular is the cPanel interface, used by many hosts to give site owners and managers an easy-to-use backup tool. All you do is click on the ‘Download a Full account backup’ icon inside cPanel and it’ll do the decent thing for you.
Once the backup is complete, you can download it in just one convenient compressed file. Better still, you can set up scheduled backups so you never miss out. Make sure you backup your site at around the same frequency you make updates to the site, so there’s minimal or no re-creating to do from scratch.
Now you understand the importance of website backups, on the way to becoming a backup pro. This has been just one of a suite of clear, plain language articles designed to boost your web development knowledge. Come back again to find out more about B2B website development from Intuitiv, the Oxford-based web developers with a nose for success.