Backups are undoubtedly the most important maintenance function you can do on your website.
If you’re not doing regular backups, all I can ask is “Why Not?”.
The most common questions I’ve been asked about backing up:
- Why do I need to backup my site?
- Can’t I just run the Export function in my WordPress dashboard?
- Doesn’t my host do backups?
- What is the best way to backup my site?
- How often should I backup?
I’ll run through these questions quickly because if you’re not backing up already, you need to hustle and go and organise it right now.
Why do you need to backup your site?
Any number of undesirable events can happen on your website.
- If you update the core WordPress files or a plugin, sometimes the update may not run properly and you may need to restore your backup & start again,
- If you’re tinkering with your site and playing in areas that perhaps you shouldn’t be (e.g. in the functions.php file), depending on the severity of the problem, you may need to restore your backup,
- If your site gets hacked, having a backup to restore to will mean all your hard work doesn’t go down the drain.
A backup is your insurance policy that should your site disappear or get messed up, you can restore your backup & your site will be back online and ready for business again quickly.
Why you need more than just the “Export” functionality
In your WordPress dashboard under Tools/Export – you can export all the posts, pages & comments on your site. Running the export is better than nothing at all, but it doesn’t bring down any images in posts or your theme files. So whether you’ve customised your site yourself or you’ve paid to have your site created for you, having to start from scratch to recreate your site, or rewrite blog posts is not a pleasant thought.
You can’t rely on your host to do your backups for you
Unless you are using a managed hosting service or you’re on the Rainmaker Platform, you shouldn’t be relying on your shared hosting provider to be able to restore a backup for you.
Yes, shared hosts do run backups, but that’s more to protect themselves than it is for your peace of mind. In an emergency you can request that your host restores your site to the most recent backup, but there is no telling how recent that backup is & how quickly they can implement that for you.
What is the best option for being in control of your own backups?
We currently use the premium plugin Backup Buddy on WP Website Coach and we recommend it to all our clients.
With Backup Buddy you can schedule your backups (either full or database only) and have them sent to the offsite cloud storage area Stash that comes with your Backup Buddy purchase.
How often should you backup?
That all depends on how frequently you are making changes to your site (whether that be styling changes or adding blog posts).
Currently, we run a daily database backup and a weekly full backup. This is scheduled to happen automatically without any input required from us after the initial setup.
What is the difference between a Database Backup & a Full Backup?
A database backup will only backup your posts, pages, WordPress settings/options, post comments – basically all your content.
A full backup does all your content, plus your theme files & any images contained within your posts.
How many backups should you keep?
We keep a months worth of full backups (4) and 10 database backups.
The number you keep will depend on the frequency of posts written on your site and if you are still making design modifications.
I also do a full backup before updating to a new version of WordPress just to be safe.
And if you think you’re ok & nothing will happen to your site when doing an upgrade, think again.
At the end of 2012 when I was creating a new sales page for one of my websites, a new version of WordPress was released. I performed the upgrade & lost my entire sales page (you know how time-consuming they are – not something you want to lose). I have no idea why this happened, but thankfully I had taken a full backup before I did the upgrade & Warren was able to restore the backup version, my sales page was back & when I ran the update again, all was good.
So think about how often you make changes to your website and how much time it would take you to restore content (or your entire theme) if something happened to your site. Then determine what backup schedule would work best for you.
What if your site is hacked?
Having backups is certainly worthwhile insurance if your site gets hacked.
Be aware though that just restoring the most recent backup wont always fix the problem. Some hacks can involve inserting code that doesn’t activate until a period of time in the future, so having at least a months worth of full backups should ensure that at least one of those backups will be clean.
How do you know which backup is safe to use?
We use Sucuri monitoring for our website so we would be alerted should an infection occur and we would then know which backups would be safe to use to restore the website.
What if you need help?
If the thought of having to run website backups and security scans is too much technical jargon for one day, then one of our Website Care Packages might be just the thing you need.
It provides all the support you need to keep your website up-to-date, backed up, secure and if you need help with little fixes on your site, it’s all included. You can read all about it here.
Got questions specific to your site? Ask in the comments below.
And make sure you share this post with your fellow business friends so they can keep their websites protected too.