Yes, it’s true. A CloudBerry Lab survey found that 49% of Internet users don’t have any backup. Backing up your website and computer is important because hardware can fail, data can be corrupted, and there are virus and hacking risks to be prepared to handle.
Just over half (51%) of business owners have 1 backup copy of their website and data when 2 copies, preferably in different locations, is recommended. This creates additional risks from data loss, malware infections, and bad actors hacking the business.
Did you know business owners are more likely to need a backup of their data (32%) than personal data users? This is because they add to their data continuously and business records translate to business income.
The study finds business owners have a 33% chance of needing a backup copy of our website and data at some time!
Looking at your website is like viewing the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot going on underneath you can’t see.
Your website is a complex collection of files, databases, and images. Think of a website backup plan as an information highway insurance policy. Just like an insurance policy you feel more secure when it is in place and you know it will save you in an emergency even though you hope you never have to use it.
The website backup plan is a way to restore or recreate your website in case something goes wrong.
Here are five things that could cause you to need a backup copy of your website.
A server at your hosting company may crash.
- The hosting company may have a fire.
- The hosting company may be hacked.
- Your website may be hacked.
- Your working on a big change or upgrade to your website when something unexpected happens and you need to restore the website back the way it was before you started.
Your website is your business. Spending time to prepare a business backup plan and website backup plan will save time and money in the event of a problem.
You do not want to rebuild your website from scratch.
Doesn’t My Web Hosting Company Do This?
The first question you’re going to ask is, doesn’t my web hosting company take care of this?
Maybe they do and maybe they do not. It depends on your agreement.
Unless it is specifically part of your hosting agreement, your web host is not obligated to back up your site. Even if your web host does backup your site, they may not be responsible to provide a copy to you.
If you are not sure of your hosting company’s data backup policy call them immediately and ask the following questions about their policies and procedures. It’s important to understand what to expect from your hosting company in the event of a data emergency so you implement any additional precautions that may be needed in the event that a problem does arise.
- What is the website and data recovery policy?
- Do you have a redundant system?
- How often is my website backed up?
- Is there any data that needs to be backed up daily or even hourly?
- How many copies are made and what formats are used?
- Where are they stored?
- Can I get a backup copy of my website from you?
- What is the expected website restoration time (called a Service Level Agreement – SLA)
- In the event of an incident and my website goes offline, what will you provide to me?
What Is The Best Backup Practice
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT) and most computer experts recommend a 3-2-1 procedure. This means:
3 – Keep 3 copies of any important file: 1 primary and 2 secondary copies.
2 – Keep the files on 2 different media types to protect against different types of hazards.
1 – Store 1 copy offsite (e.g., outside your home or business facility).
To adhere to the 3-2-1 rule first designate one copy of your website as the primary file. The primary file is the most complete and up-to-date copy of your website.
Maintaining a backup on 2 different types of media is not as complicated as it sounds. Here are three different media types:
- hard drive (preferably external and detachable)
- solid-state storage like a USB flash drive or a solid state drive (SSD)
- optical storage media such as a CD or DVD
Take Your Special Circumstances Into Consideration
The recommendations and suggestions provided here should be interpreted by the size and scope of your business.
- If you are working alone and managing one or two websites, your procedures should reflect that size.
- If you’re a 10 to 30 person company with large and/or multiple websites, procedures should be more inclusive.
- When you’re supporting a business with hundreds of employees, then policies and procedures will need to be more formal and thorough.
One backup policy does not fit all and policies and procedures should make sense for your business. A recovery plan that meets and supports your business needs and one that attempts to prepare for any business disruption and gets you back online as quickly as possible is essential.
Is An On-premises or Remote Backups Better?
An on-premise backup is just that, a copy you keep onsite. It can be on a second hard drive, solid state drive, or USB flash drive. The positive aspect of this solution is that is within your reach and you can get to it quickly and easily. The downside of the onsite copy is that it’s capable of being misplaced, lost or damaged.
A remote backup can be a cloud-based solution. For a cloud-based solution installing software that automatically creates and sends the files to the cloud on a regular schedule is the simplest approach. You can set it up and forget about it.
The one potential problem with a remote plan is that it requires the Internet. If you lose your Internet connection which can happen in some situations, you obviously can’t do anything with your website until the Internet connection is back.
Or, you can simply create the backup on an external drive or USB flash drive and take it home with you. This is fine for a moderate amount of data but may be a problem if you have a large amount of data. Additionally, this solution is prone to other problems as it can easily be misplaced or damaged.
5 Simple Steps – So You’re Prepared
1. Plan your strategy.
Develop a written policy and plan that includes:
- what’s being backed up
- where it’s being backed up
- how often it’s backed up
- who’s doing the backups
- who’s checking the backup quality and success
2. Prioritize the data.
Identify the data you will need to get your business back online quickly including:
- website theme and structure
- blog content including images
- affiliate links and back links
- accounting files
- email lists
- order processing and shipping files
3. Storage and protection options.
For on-premises solutions, I recommend the following:
- create a weekly backup schedule
- keep three weeks of backups
- put one copy in a water and fire-proof safe
- larger businesses should use the 2x2x2 rule
- two sets of backups
- each set held by a different person
- stored in two different locations.
For remote or cloud-based solutions identify a way to restore your website and necessary business files from a secondary location in case of a power loss and lack of uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
I developed a disaster recovery plan for a large organization located in a hurricane and flood prone area. The main data center was on the top floor of the organization’s five-story headquarters. If something happened to the roof the data center was at risk. The backup data center was one block away in the same flood zone and at risk.
If you are in a location prone to natural disasters, try to make sure local and remote backups can’t be damaged by the same event. This may seem like a lot of work but in the event of a disaster it can save critical time, reduce loss of productivity, as well as hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars in sales.
4. Create website backup access strategies.
Think of a situation where your web host is offline and you can’t reach anyone at the company online or by phone.
- What will be needed to operate the business with minimal downtime?
- Can you load and run your website from your server?
- If your web host will be down for an extended time can you move your website onto another web host company’s servers?
- Can you run your business without Internet connectivity?
- How quickly can you access the website backup?
5. Test website backups before you need them.
Don’t wait for disaster to strike before you test your website recovery plan. It could be too late at that point.
Test to be sure that:
- the data is backed up and stored correctly
- you can restore your website from the copy
- the restoration process works reliably
- time the website restoration process
What is my backup plan?
That’s a fair question. Here is my plan.
- My web host has a redundant system.
- Weekly I export a copy of my website and save it on my computer
- My computer automatically backs up to a cloud service.
- I create a copy on an external hard drive and I maintain 5 years of backups.
- If I’m working on an important document, I copy it at least daily onto a USB flash drive.
Now, here’s how backing up my system saved me from disaster.
About two years ago I was doing some work on my computer (I don’t remember what) and for some reason I took down my firewall. Big mistake!
Very quickly after that my screen went blood-red and there was a big countdown clock in the middle. The on-screen message told me that all of my files had been encrypted and that if I want to unlock them I would have to call a phone number and pay for the access code.
Pay before the clock runs out or all the files on the computer will be corrupted and unusable.
I did some research on my smartphone. The ransom ware only corrupts text files so my applications and photos were safe.
There was no way to figure out how to unlock the ransom code in the amount of time available as if I could ever do that anyway. I learned I could easily remove the ransom ware from my computer but then my text files would be lost. That’s why they call it ransom ware.
Luckily, I had run virus checks on my hard drive and created a backup on my detachable hard drive that morning. So, I locked my computer down again. Removed the ransom ware and ran virus checks to make sure it was clear.
Next, I trashed all my text files and reinstalled them from my hard drive. Everything was back in place and I’ve never had a problem since.
What is your website backup plan?
Leave any comments, questions, or concerns in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you soon!
The opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and are based on a combination of personal experience, published product reviews and users’ ratings.