Rules of computing:
If it’s important, back it up.
Refer to Rule #3.
See Rule #1.
Those are serious rules. Really. There’s nothing more horrifying than losing the only copy of something you’ve spent hours/days/weeks/months on.
The rules apply to websites as well as other information, and we’ve written a lot in this space about ways to back up a site. Julie introduced readers to a few methods of website backup, Kathleen wrote more specifically about backing up a WordPress site, and Mark reminded us of the importance of checking those backups.
I was reminded rather forcefully of the importance of making backups in late December, when I made an incredibly careless mistake on my personal site, and managed to delete just about everything (don’t ask --- suffice it to say that I should have known better). Somehow I’d missed the memo about my hosting provider’s (I use Reclaim) excellent backup options. I panicked and submitted a support ticket, and they had me back up and running almost immediately. Lesson learned!
I also manage a website other than my own, however, and that site isn’t hosted at Reclaim, so after my December experience I immediately looked into backing that site up regularly --- and I wanted a system that would run the backup automatically once it was set up, but that would also allow the backup to be triggered manually if needed. Like my own, the site in question is a WordPress site, so I started searching for a good plugin. I found one: BackWPup. It can back up both the WordPress database and files, and can send the backup files to a directory on your hard drive and/or to a number of different cloud storage services.
Configuration of the plugin will vary a bit depending on where you want to store the backup. I opted for Amazon S3, and set things up with help from a very helpful series of posts at StressLessWeb. Now, the backup job runs once a week in the middle of the night, then emails me to tell me it’s done. Knowing that backup is there is a great relief (and following Mark’s advice, I do indeed check the backup periodically).
BackWPup has a Pro version available, but I’ve found that the free version serves my needs very well.
What’s your strategy for backing up a website? Let us know in the comments!