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Web Site Design & WordPress Development
Saskatoon, SK

1
Jun

Maintaining Your Website: Back-Ups

Let’s face it – servers crash, people accidentally delete files, or sometimes just simply forget to press the save button before logging out.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if your website was hacked, or the server went down, and all your hard work and money were gone forever.  While data loss is always a possibility, a good backup plan can be the difference between staying in business or going out of business. Lime Communications offers flexible maintenance plans for backing up your WordPress website.  Let us give you a quick rundown how how it all works.

 

What Is A Backup?

Simply put, a backup is a copy of the database and files that make up your WordPress website.  Taking a backup is like taking a snapshot of your website at that exact moment, and then packaging up all of the information so that you can store it away in case you ever need it.  If you ever found yourself in a position where you needed to restore your backup, it is as simple as running a script to extract all of that information out again.  Once extracted, your website will be exactly the state it was in when the backup was taken.

Every additional copy made could be restored should a catastrophic event occur.  So not only should you have a backup copy, but new backups should continually be created to keep your backup current.

There are two main parts that make up your WordPress website: the database and the system files.  The database is the filing cabinet that holds all of your data, posts, images, users, links and settings.  The system files are the functions, scripts, plugins and themes that execute to provide functionality for your back-end system.  WordPress requires both components in order to work.  While a backup with only one of these components is better than nothing, both are required to completely restore your website to it’s last known good state.  Our backup services involve backing up just the database, and the database & system files as a complete unit.  Utilizing two different methods gives us more flexibility during the restore process.

 

Why Should I Backup My WordPress Website?

  • It’s not your web host’s responsibility to make backups available to you.
    When you pay a web hosting company to host your website, essentially that is all you are paying for.  Backups and redundancy are not likely included in that pricing.  Most often, web hosts do not bundle backups because they modularize their services so you aren’t forced to buy them.  Some web hosts will advertise backups as included, but almost always, thee backups are for their purposes, not yours.
  • Storing the original development site isn’t enough.
    If you developed your site on a test server, or your local computer, you may think that’s enough to protect you. However, over time, websites are tweaked and changed and those changes often won’t be reflected in the original version. If you run a forum, blog or content management system, much of your valuable content is uploaded by your users, and won’t exist in any other place than on your website.
  • You need to be ready to react quickly.
    Having an up to date backup in place will allow you to get back online quickly after a mishap. There are many reasons why you need to get your website back online quickly, including loss of income and potential SEO penalties (according to some sources). Not to mention – your customers ability to find and contact you.
  • Peace of mind.
    Backups are like insurance.  If something were to ever happen to all of your hard work, and yes – that is a real possibility, you can sleep at night knowing that you have several redundant copies that can be restored immediately to get you back up and running.
  • It’s your protection against viruses.
    The cat and mouse game of security vs. hackers will likely continue for years to come.   Keeping a backup may be your easiest, and best protection; allowing us to turn back the clock after an attack. While this doesn’t prevent attacks, it does cure them when needed.
  • Things can go wrong during software updates.
    Like all software, WordPress is continually being updated to improve functionality, introduce new features, and more importantly, fix security vulnerabilities discovered in the core software. While updates are generally not a problem, sometimes things can go wrong and your entire website can be taken down to what developers call the ‘white screen of death’.
  • Save Yourself, From Yourself.
    While it may seem the silliest, it is actually the most common.  We’ve all been there: you spent all night writing an article or a report, and then close your word processor realizing you forgot to save it.  Or, you accidentally delete an important business document you thought was a spam email message.  Having a good backup solution allows you to get back anything you might accidentally lose.

 

The 3, 2, 1 Backup Rule

The accepted rule for backup best practices is the three-two-one rule. It can be summarized as: if we’re backing something up, we should have:

(3) – At least three copies,

(2) – In two different formats,

(1) – With one of those copies off-site.

Let’s go through each of those rules. They’re all based on one concept: redundancy. Each of those rules is meant to make sure that your data is stored in multiple ways, so that at least one backup will survive.

Three different copies means three different copies in different places. (Different folders on the same hard drive or flash disk does not count.) Why three? In the digital era, it is very easy to make digital copies, and it’s better to have more copies than too few. By keeping them on different places, it reduces the risk of a single event destroying multiple copies.

Now, why two different formats? What this means is that we must use at least two different methods to store your data. For example, burning your photos to a DVD from your PC’s hard drive counts (hard disk and DVD). However, copying them to an external disk does not (as they’re both hard disks.) If we do both, then we satisfy this rule (and the first one as well). Again, using different formats reduce the risk that all of the backups will be damaged, as different formats have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to redundancy.  Another point to mention: storage mediums can change.  There was a time when we used to all backup our data to compact discs, however lots of computers don’t even come with an optical drive anymore.

Keeping one copy off-site ensures that even if something happens to where your data is – like a fire, or a break-in – at least one copy is safe somewhere else. If something does go wrong where you are, at least your data will be safe because it is stored somewhere else.

 

Storing Backups Off-Site

Our backups are kept in four different locations to increase redundancy.  The local backup is stored on our private hosting server.  We keep remote backups in three different locations; Vancouver, Oklahoma City, and Oregon.  With so many redundant copies, it is pretty much impossible to lose any data.

Our backups are scheduled to create redundant copies of your data on a re-occurring basis, and these frequencies can be adjusted based on the size of your site. A good backup strategy can save you a lot of time, and a lot of money, if something catastrophic were to ever happen.

 

Verifying Backup Integrity

Part of what makes a good backup solution is monitoring the backups that are being made.  A backup won’t do you any good if it has been backing up a corrupted database for 6 months.  Restoring the corrupted database will leave you in the same mess that you are trying to fix. We continually verify our backups to make sure your website is restorable should anything bad ever happen.

 

Restoring Backups

If something terrible whereat ever happen and you found yourself in a situation where a restore was required, take comfort in knowing this is not something you will have to worry about.  All backup restores are done by us, so you can go on concentrating about the things that matter most to you.  If you ever accidentally delete a post, file or image, just contact us and we can restore it for you very quickly.

 

Conclusion

In our opinion, any responsible small business can’t afford to not have backups. We offer different backup plans designed to fit your needs.  Contact us for information regarding pricing and details.

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