Save your work!
How many times have we all heard that? Before collaborate document editors, such as Google Docs/Sheets, how many times have we hit CTRL+S, or that little save icon, in paranoia that we will lose all work up to that point? And then, saving the more important documents to an external hard drive, CD-ROM, or, if you are of my generation, floppy disks? Just in case our computer died. A ton, I can imagine. The same concept goes for your website.
Life is not error-proof. Technology is not perfect. Servers may crash, hackers may hack, or you simply may have plans for a major site overall, but don’t want to lose your online presence. That’s where a backup solution comes in. Luckily, there are two main ways that this can be achieved.
1. Backup via your hosting cPanel. This solution requires some technical knowledge, but if you have access to your hosting cPanel, a simple compression of your public_html file, and an export of your database, and you are good to go.
2. Plugins! I’m a WordPress developer, so my expertise lie here. This is great for the average site owner, who knows their way around the Dashboard, but couldn’t tell you what a mySQL database is. There are many solutions out there, such as Backup Buddy, Jetpack, or even a migration plugin such as All In One WP Migration.
But wait…there’s more than simply pushing a button in the Dashboard, or zipping up some files and calling it a day. There are some important things you need to consider…
Redundancy and Bandwidth
You know that saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? The same goes for your backups. As mentioned earlier, web servers may fail. It could be due to age, malicious intent, or something as simple as a power outage. Your hosting provider may decide to close up shop, or shut you down. If your backup files are on said server, you may not be able to access them – and you’ll be fresh out of luck.
Related – many web hosting providers use something called shared hosting. You will be given an allocated amount of space on a server, and this server will be shared with other clients. If you overload your portion of the server with large files that eat up bandwidth, you may, and likely will, impact the speed and uptime of the other clients. Now that is just being a bad web neighbour.
This is why you should ALWAYS download your backup to your local machine, and then either store a copy on an external storage, or on a cloud-based service such as AWS, or Dropbox/Sync. Then, delete the file from your hosting provider (or get your developer to do so). This provides redundancy (extra copies), and saves you the wrath of angry website owners, and annoyed web hosting providers.