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Taking Charge of your own Website Backup

To help you manage your backup strategy effectively and achieve the outcome of having a proper procedure that actually works, I have put together some of the issues you need to discuss with your developer or technical support.

It still keeps happening!

And when it does, it sends everyone into a blind panic.

Moreover, it costs businesses a lot of time and money.

I am talking about losing your website for one of many reasons.

For example, your web host accidentally deleted your site files.

Or you were hacked and some or all of your files were corrupted.

Or your developer did some edits and then Poof! It all disappeared.

Don't lose your website and miss out on business! Take charge of your #website backup. Click To Tweet

When things go wrong and your site disappears, all you want is for someone to take the latest backup and reinstall it so that your website works again.

However, all you get is a lightning response from all those technical experts whom you have been paying all along to look after your site and your interests – they are all super quick to give you that famous line: “It’s not my fault”, as if you really care who caused it and as if that will miraculously fix it.

Don’t Do it yourself. Manage it yourself.

The lesson to be learned is that you do not have to become a techie and fix the problem yourself, but you do need to sit down with your developer to manage the process. Make sure to get full agreement and, more importantly, make sure that what you agree on is actually followed up and implemented.

What to Back Up

There are two main parts to your website: the HTML files and the database.

To be overly simplistic, think of each page of your site as an HTML file, so if your site has 100 pages you will want to back up those 100 files.

However, many websites have databases too, which, like an Excel spreadsheet, house much of the data that appears on your web pages. For example, if you have an image gallery on one page of your site, those images will sit in the database and, when someone looks at that page, the images that the reader sees will be pulled in from the database.

So when you talk to your developer about backing up your site, stress that both the web files AND the database need to be included in the backup plan.

To keep your company #website safe at all times, tell your developer to do this. Click To Tweet

Manual or Automatic Backup

There is a wide range of software that allows you to have the backup process carried out automatically and, while it seems an obvious choice to let technology sort it all out for you, I must admit that, for many of the websites that we manage for our clients, I still prefer to have the odd manual backup. I asked my technical support to set me up with an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) programme that now allows me to simply copy and paste from the server and into an external hard drive.

So for me, I let the automatic software do its bit (that way I don’t have to remember to do it all the time), but once a month I just do a quick copy and paste myself. While for the larger sites it might take all night to complete that manual process, it can happen while I am asleep and, as you can imagine, it helps me sleep better at night.

Call me old fashioned.

Manual or automatic #website backup? Frank Orman discusses the options. Click To Tweet

However, there is no right or wrong… just as long as you have recent backups. Discuss the options with your developer and decide on an approach that you like.

Full Backup or Part (Incremental) Backup

Like a full fridge gives me a sense of security in life, so do full backups.

However, any self respecting technical person would shudder at the thought of such a clumsy “human” approach and would insist on what is called an incremental backup. And he or she would be right.

The idea of incremental backups is really simple.

It takes a full backup of all your files and then, every time you change, edit or add a file, it just saves what you have done to change the status quo. So, let’s say you have 100 files and you change the text on one of the files, it only saves that one file again and not the entire 100.

The advantage of this is that the backups are really quick and you need far less space to store your backups. If you have a large site that is being edited a lot, that means that you can cope with the backup load very easily with very little space.

How Often to Back Up

Which brings me nicely to the next issue of: how often.

The main consideration for answering this is based on how often you work on editing the site. On the one hand, I have clients who, once they put a site live, almost never change it, while on the other hand I have clients with massive websites of hundreds of thousands of pages and huge databases, where things are changing literally every day.

And the more changes are being made to the site, the more often you need a backup. In most cases, however, I recommend a daily back up for new sites (this is because they tend to be changing all the time for the first 6 months) and then, when everything settles down, once a week could be fine for less active sites.

However, if your site is not too large or if you are doing an incremental, space is much less of an issue as it is so inexpensive these days.

How often should you back up your company #website? Frank Orman discusses. Click To Tweet

Where to Save your Backup Files

Whatever you do, DO NOT save your backups on your server. If, for example, your server crashes or if you are hacked, then not only will you lose your site files but you will lose your backup files at the same time.

There are two basic options for saving your backup files: either on a hard drive (an external hard drive or the Share of your office) or in the cloud.

If you have space in your office’s Share or on your own computer, then this is perfectly adequate – especially if one of them has its own backup processes. Double protection!

However, I am finding that the cloud is getting easier and cheaper and am opting for this more and more. I personally use LiveDrive these days, but this is not to say that they are the only game in town or even the best. It is simply what my technical support gave me a long time ago and, after playing around with it, I found it really simple to use.

I am sure that every technical support person is wedded to their brand and, as long as it is easy for you to use, it will be a huge step forwards for the safety of your website.


This is probably the most crucial part of any backup plan, because I have so often been told that everything is working and that the backups are running properly, only to find out later that this was not as true as I would have liked.

The test is really simple. Ask your developer to create a test page on your site. Then, after your next backup, ask your developer to delete it. See if you can find that file yourself using the backup software that has been installed.

Safety First, Whistles Later

While I have only covered the very basic concepts, there are a range of upgrades to make your backup more sophisticated. And this is the problem. Technical people love gadgets and often get so excited by all that technology can do, that they either end up taking far too long to get the job done (making them prohibitively expensive) or end up with something so clever that no one can use it.

If I can make a simple suggestion: first get the very basics set up and working and then, if you are really interested, you can upgrade what you already have to add in all the bells and whistles later.

When it comes to your #website backup, put safety first - and bells & whistles second. Click To Tweet

Need Help Getting Safe?

If you would like help with your backup planning or the management of your backup systems, or if you would just like some friendly advice, please free to contact us.



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