Plan for the Unexpected
Brace yourself, today’s topic is website backups! Ok, we admit this may not be the most inspiring article you read today. However, you can relax and move on to the more exciting life once you have a proper backups configured!
There is a wide spectrum of approaches to this topic. From doing nothing (please read on!) to having real-time redundant backups (you can leave now). Most organizations’ needs fall somewhere in the middle.
What to backup?
In most cases the backup should include two pieces:
The database typically includes the content for your website as well as important settings.
Files, such as themes, customized features, and images need to be backed up. There are often specific files that may be excluded from the backups such as plugins and core files. However, if you are in doubt, include it.
How to automate backups?
It is highly recommended — no, it is an absolute necessity — that the backup process is automated. Plugins and third party software products will walk you through this process. They will send warnings if the backup does not complete successfully. However, do not put your trust in this alone. You will also want to manually check the backups and test them to ensure that everything is working.
How often should backups run?
The timing of backups varies in each situation. If your website has a weekly blog update and few other updates, then a weekly backup may be sufficient. If you have to restore the site and lose a blog post, it is not going to be the end of the world.
On the other hand, if your website has new content daily then you need to have backups that are more frequent.
When should the backups run?
Best practice is to run backups when your server is the least busy. For example, try running them at 2 a.m., when there are few visitors accessing your site.
Where should the backups be stored?
Backups should be stored in a different location than the website hosting account. This ensures that if the website is hacked or if the host closes its doors, the backups are not lost. With cloud storage offerings such as Dropbox or Amazon S3 this is a cost effective and easy solution.
That’s it. Well, maybe that isn’t everything, but it will get you started on the right track.