Backups are important. Oftentimes vitally important. Admins, engineers, your friends and even your grandchildren are bound to tell you to backup your data, pictures and media. The same applies for website backups. The stark reality however, is that backups remain one of the most overlooked practices and under-utilized precautions used to protect vital data.
The importance of backups
A planned set of backups can save your website during a critical moment, when everything seems to have gone wrong. For instance, if a malicious attacker is up-to some mischief and wipes out all your site files, a trusty set of backups comes in handy.
Similarly, if your web server has an irreparable hard drive failure, the damage can be readily undone with the simple restoring of a backup. It’s being proactive and the idea is simple. To keep your data safe, you make a copy or several copies of it. If something goes awry with your original data, your backup copy saves the day.
Smart Website Backups
There are a few backup solutions that are actually, worse than having no backups at all. Case in point – backups being stored in the public web directory (public_html, httpdocs). Backups stored on the web server serve as a huge security risk because they often contain unpatched software that’s old and with vulnerabilities. Moreover, since they are in a openly accessible location on a public web server, anyone can exploit the data and in essence, your back-ed up website!
This is why you need to be smart about your website backups. Here are 4 essential guidelines to ensure your backups are safe from hackers and hardware failure. Read on:
Ideally, your backups should always be stored off-site and away from the server your website is on. Having backups on the web server is a disaster waiting to happen since the data backups can be easily destroyed or infected with malware, along with your website. Off-site backups help protect your data from attackers and vitally, it also helps protects your data against hardware failure. A really bad scenario would be having all your backups done on your web server hard-drive which is then likely to fail on you. That’ll destroy all your data, your live website as well as your backups.
The solution is to take advantage of simple WordPress and Joomla backup plugins that work in tandem with huge cloud providers such as Dropbox, Amazon and BigDaddy among others.
Automatic backup schedules are hugely important. It’s all too routine for users to forget the task of making backups, even more-so when things are good and dandy with the website running well. Remember, it can all come crashing down at any moment. Set up a backup schedule!
Redundancy and multiple backups
“Data doesn’t exist unless there are at least two copies of it.” Wise words from Schofield’s Second Law of Computing. Backups of backups are necessary. It may sound like a hassle but it’s also the same reason why you have backups of backups of pictures you’ve taken over the years, stacked across multiple hard drives. Having RAID 1 technology with backups duplicated in multiple locations is always recommended when you’re backing up something as fundamental as your website.
Frequent testing of said backups
The final guideline in ensuring you have a reliable backup process is making sure the backup and restore actually works seamlessly. Open an empty web directly and check to see if you can use those backups to restore your entire data set and the website back online, with a test/faux domain. Do this by using the files from the backup alone. You’re all set!
The above structure is to help guide you in creating a dependable, scheduled backup plan for your website and data and you can breathe easy. Safe in the knowledge that you’ve got a fully functioning backed up copy to restore if anything ever went wrong. Which it often can.