Welp, there goes six months of work - right down the drain.
Having to tell my friend that everything she'd worked on over the past six months was gone was heart-breaking. "But it's backed up in the cloud, right?"
No, it wasn't. Her files were unrecoverable.
My friend had just lost the hard drive on her laptop, but imagine losing your website in the same manner. What would your business look like if everything you've done on your website over the past six months ( or year, two years?! ) was suddenly gone?
The hidden value of a reliable backup
Let's think about that. How long would it take you to re-create every blog post you've written in the past year? Do you remember all the small changes you've made to pages? How long would that take? And what about orders and purchases made on your site? You know you're going to need that data for tax season. How long would it take to re-create all the information you'd need? Would it even be possible?
You see, website backups are a lot like homeowners or health insurance. No one likes to pay for that kind of stuff, but when you're looking down at a $350,000 hospital bill and know that you only have to pay $3,000 of it, you're so thankful you had the foresight to cover yourself.
How do I backup my site?
Now that you're convinced and ready to take action, let's look at a couple ways you can implement backups for your WordPress website. The two easiest ways to accomplish this is with a plugin or a SaaS product.
Using a WordPress plugin
Probably the most common method small business owners use to backup their website is via plugin. A quick search in the "Plugins > Add new" section of your dashboard will uncover dozens of plugins that will backup both your web files and your WordPress database.
Two of the most popular choices are UpDraft and BackupBuddy. Both plugins will let you run manual backups, and both plugins have premium (paid) versions that let you put your backups on a schedule.
Using a SaaS product
SaaS (software as a service) products are online tools that you pay a fee for monthly or yearly. One of our favorite options for SaaS backups is ManageWP. For less than $2/month ManageWP will let you setup scheduled, incremental backups, online storage, and a super-simple method to restore your site from a backup.
Whether you choose a plugin or a SaaS product, it is so important to have your backups running on an automated schedule. You've got enough to think about, and if you're like me, you're likely to forget more often than not. There's no reason to leave your backups to chance.
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How often should I backup my site?
When you setup your automated backups, one of the questions you'll be asked is how often you'd like to run the backup. This depends almost entirely on how often you're updating your website. And by update, I mean blog posts, content updates, page changes, software updates, new comments, new purchases, etc. Let's consider anytime anything changes on your site to be an "update."
When you're choosing frequency, you're deciding how much you're willing to loose in a worst-case scenario. Every update you've made since your most recent backup is at risk.
If you've got a website that's essentially an online brochure, and you only run software updates once a month, you can probably get away with only running a backup once or twice a month.
If you've got an events website, an online store, or a blog that gets frequent comments, you'll want to backup your site much more frequently. For example, a site that receives dozens of orders every hour will probably want to consider running a backup multiple times throughout the day.
In addition to your scheduled backups, it's highly recommended that you run a manual backup immediately before making any changes to the code of your website. That way, if you run into an error that you don't know how to fix (or worse, get the white screen of death), you can simple reinstall your backup and be back exactly where you started.
Where should I store the backups?
Another option you'll be asked to configure when setting up your plugin or SaaS product is the location of the backup storage. By default, many plugins save the backup on the same server as the website. This can be extremely problematic. Imagine a situation where a hacker has gained access to your server (this is common in shared hosting environments). If they have access to your server, and your backups are on the same server, they have the ability to not only corrupt your live site, but also to remove/corrupt backup copies.
For this reason, backups should always be stored on a separate server. ManageWP handles this by default, providing you with storage space on their servers. Many plugins give you the option to save your backups to a destination like Google Drive or Dropbox. Both are great solutions.
WordPress backups are one of the most important things you can do for the health of your website. This is not something you should overlook or save until you "have time."
Luckily, it's also one thing that many business owners are capable of handling on their own. That being said, if you've hit a bump, we'd love to hear from you. We're here to answer questions and help you get past any obstacles you may encounter.
Ready to focus on your business and let a professional handle maintenance and backups for you? Check out our Website Care Plans.
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