Even in the offline world, people back up their paperwork preventing a possible data loss. With computers, we learned the importance of backing up regularly in case of a hardware or software failure, a virus, or other threat.
The same logic should operate for websites. You should have security copies of it. This can save you in case something goes wrong, but also in other common situations.
Why is it important to back up your website?
Prevent data loss. Besides the website’s data, more information is added from your users’ purchases, comments, visits, etc.
Malware or/and hacking attack. If your security defenses are defeated, a backup of your website is key to get back on track faster and easier than to build it from zero. Down-time means income loss.
Compatibility problems. Lack of compatibility while installing software to improve website’s functionality can produce problems. If it goes too bad, a backup will allow you to get back fast to the beginning.
Update’s issues. To update is a responsible and regular practice, but sometimes the process can cause conflict among the different software components. Have a copy of your website to restore it quickly.
Migration to a different web hosting provider. This process requires transferring the complete database and files of your website to a new server. You need an updated copy.
Original website’s development vs. updated backup. Websites get more developed with time and new additions. What you need is a copy of the latest website’s version.
How to back up your website?
Back up manually. This is the hardest method. It takes time, effort, but it works. A website has many files to back up, especially big ones. Be very focused not to miss a single one because the smallest loss can cause problems. Check every downloaded file, organize to avoid confusion, and remember to back up regularly. A good practice is to create an archive file with the complete directory instead of downloading file-by-file. Have more than only a copy on different hard drives.
Back up with rsync. Remote sync is a remote but also a local tool for transferring and synchronizing files. Through an algorithm, it can detect the segments of the files that have been modified to save them. It reduces the amount of data that has to be copied, takes less bandwidth and time. It works between a computer and an external hard drive and across servers.
Back up directly from your cPanel. Click the backup icon and go on clicking until the process is finished. It’s really important to save the backup on a computer or an offline destination too. A common mistake is to back up without choosing the destination for the copy to be saved. Then, by default, it gets stored in the server. If it fails or shuts down, you simply don’t have a backup.
Back up using the cloud. This is an easy solution. Everything (database, content, themes, plugins…) will be safely backed up and available when you need it. There are different services for you to choose from.
Back up through automated tools. There is software, free and paid. You can configure to make a copy of your website as frequent as you set it up, manually or automated, etc. Some of these tools have to be installed. Others are web-based. In general, they download backups via FTP. Every file and the database will be downloaded and even scanned to be sure they are free of malware. There are many choices. They add specific features to compete with others.
Backing up is a self-defense practice. Choose the choice that best suits your website’s needs and your budget. Redundant backups are essential. Don’t store only a copy. Save in more than one server or offline safe location. Guarantee you can immediately restore your website and don’t leave this task for tomorrow!