A recent news article reported on a web hosting company making a BIG mistake. Whilst working on their server they typed in a very simple, one line command.
If you’re familiar with Linux you’ll know that the “rm” command deletes files and folders, the “-R” means all sub folders and files, and the “f” means “don’t bother asking if I’m sure I’ve done the right thing”.
Running this from the root folder on the server naturally deleted everything on the server’s hard disk. This included all the files and databases for their clients’ websites. Permanently!
Quite often it’s at this point that people start to think about backups. This company was no exception and I can imagine the person sat at the keyboard thinking,
“Wouldn’t it have been great if I’d made a backup before destroying my company’s future!”.
Make backups BEFORE the event
It sounds like an obvious thing to do. But have you backed up your data? If the computer you’re sat at blew up in your face would you lose all your files (as well as your eyebrows!)? Is your website backed up? Do you even know the answer to that question?
Backing up your website is one of the most important aspects of running a website, yet one of the most overlooked. With my hosting packages it comes as standard. I just do it for my clients. There’s no option not to have your site backed up. Yes, it adds a bit to the yearly fees but I couldn’t justify letting a business take the risk of loosing all their hard work.
How often do you back up?
If the answer is “what backup?” you’re not alone, but you now know you’ve got something to do.
If the answer is “doesn’t the hosting company do that?” you’re taking a risk. Hosting companies don’t always backup user data and if they do it probably isn’t very often.
If you are taking backups, how often?
When deciding how often you need to take backups you need to consider how much data you can afford to loose, measured in time.
If you lost a month’s worth of website activity would this affect your business? This includes all orders stored on the site, payments, all the updates you make, all the registrations you’ve taken, etc.
What about a week’s worth? What about a day’s worth?
Hopefully this shows you how often you need to take a backup. Your backup is there to help you recover enough data to get your website up and running again. There will generally be some data loss as you can only recover data saved at the last backup time. After that you’ll have to rely on other information to rebuild any lost orders or payments, etc. For example you probably get an email notification for orders on an e-commerce site.
What to back up
Websites consist of two parts. The actual files that contain both the code and any images, documents, etc. that your site uses, and at least one database which stores the information contained in your site. Both parts need to be backed up. If you loose one part you’ll not be able to get the site back.
How to back up
If you’re one of my clients don’t worry. I’ve sorted it out for you.
If you’re hosting your own site have a look at your hosting package. Usually there’s an add on option for this.
If you’re using WordPress the have a look at this article on how to backup WordPress.
If you want to take your own backups you’ll need to learn about FTP to get the files, and how to use a database management package to get a copy of the database. After that you’ll need to remember to take the backups at regular intervals or use some automation software to do it for you.
Do it now!
Now is the time to take action. If you don’t know about your backup scheme find out. Make sure you’ve got one in place, and make sure you’re backing up often enough to save your skin.