Do you love your WordPress website? I mean really love it….you’ve spent hours upon hours crafting awesome content, fiddling around with widgets and plugins and finding perfect images for your site. You might have hundreds of posts, complete with awesome comments from your lovely readers. Perhaps you have products on the site, with awesome reviews.
There may have been blood, sweat and tears even. In other words, years of hard work.
So what happens if one day you can’t log onto your WordPress website? That’s ok you think, someone can fix this. You call your webhost who asks “do you have your own backups stored?” Er no – you thought they ran backups so you hadn’t bothered. You’re paying them for hosting, you’re not tech support.
But then your webhost advises there has been a problem. They can’t restore the backup files they have, as their server has been hacked and the files can’t be accessed.
Oh s**t. Your site could be gone. As in – gone forever
That’s ok you think – I have all my posts saved in word – and my images in my dropbox.
But what about your comments? What about the reviews? And can you find the images easily and assign them to the right post? What about your SEO, you will have to do that again too….
AND do you have the 20 plus hours required to reload them all?
Yuck. I feel sick.
Ok, so I know that is worst case scenario, however when you have a website – sometimes bad things do happen. There’s potential you or your host could be hacked, or you may even have issues when you do something as simple as update a plugin (yes this does happen!). Then what? How do you go about fixing it?
At least if you have a backup, you have your data on hand to try and restore. Without a backup, you don’t have many options.
Let’s talk about backups – please!
I’ll ask a question – do you run your own backups? If your answer is “my hosting provider does that right?” then read on. Please.
I’m not exaggerating when I say without your own backup you are risking losing your site. Let me tell you why.
Why are backups so important?
There are many examples where you may need to restore a backup. Something could happen with your webhost and they cannot access their backups. Or you need a backup from them, but you post daily and under your hosting plan backups are monthly. You might install a “dodgy” plugin, it causes issues on your site and you have to restore a backup to get everything back to the way it used to be. Worst case scenario someone hacks your site and you can’t access it – so you need to restore a backup file to get it all back!
There are endless scenarios, but if you have a backup then it doesn’t matter which one (if any) happens, you have the raw data to restore your site to all its glory!
Ok you’ve convinced me. How do I run a backup?
With a WordPress website the easiest way is through a plugin. You can run them through your control panel (with your web host), but a plugin is generally more user friendly.
Step One: Select a plugin
There are countless plugins you can use for backups. I’m going to save you some time and tell you the one I recommend, then give you some other options. My favourite is:
- Updraft Plus (Free and Paid versions, the free version will give you what you need!)
Some other options are:
- BackupBuddy (Paid)
- Vaultpress (Paid) <link https://vaultpress.com/>
Of course there are a million plugins you could use though, so if it tickles your fancy go nuts having a look.
A side note – also be cautious with which plugins you install on your site, as if they are poorly written or not maintained they can cause issues. Always choose plugins that have been updated recently, have lots of downloads and good reviews. Ask me if you’re not sure about your choice of plugin/s!
Step Two: Configure the plugin
Select your plugin and install on your site, then activate. You should get instructions on how to configure it, so go ahead and work through the options. You you should be able to select a location to store them (such as Dropbox), select how many backups to store and how frequently to run them.
Make yourself familiar with how the restore process works, so you’re comfortable with what to do should you ever need it. If it seems complicated or difficult then you could run into issues later.
Backups Best Practice
Here are some tips to ensure your backup process runs smoothly and actually works!
- Frequency to backup: depends on how often you write posts, however generally weekly would be the minimum.
- Automation: it goes without saying if you can schedule it to happen automatically then this alleviates you having to remember to do yet.another.thing!
- Where to store them: saving them to your desktop is not a solution and leaves you with the same vulnerability as not having one running at all. Same as storing them on the same server your website lives on. Always store them somewhere secure and remote (i.e. on dropbox) so if your computer dies, the backups are still available.
- Number to keep: there is a geeky saying about data redundancy I heard somewhere that goes like “two is one and one is none”. What does this mean? The more you can keep the better, as if something is wrong with one of the files then you will have other options. So always keep two at least.
- Testing: this might be an advanced option, but nether the less there is no point having a backup file if it doesn’t work. It’s a good idea to test your backup files periodically (by restoring them to a test domain/server) to make sure they actually can be restored.
So…now do you think Backups are not such a bad idea?
As I mentioned above, I don’t want to scare you into thinking your site is going to be hacked tomorrow and disappear forever. I want to bring it to your attention that running backups is a standard part of owning a website. I would hate for you to lose your hard work. A little bit of effort now could save you HEAPS of time and heartache later. Promise.
Ok rant over…I’ll add same goes for those of you with dodgy passwords – you know who you are. If your password is your child’s name and birthday, or your street name and number, or even just the word “Password” – then please change it. Right now. Save yourself another headache in the future.
Hey, I’m Kristy
Kristy runs a web development consultancy, specialising in WordPress sites. Kristy combines her excellent technical knowledge with her ability to translate this into ways that are understandable to the average person, so her clients feel informed and in control of how their websites are developed and managed. She is also the Co-Founder of B Directory where the team is supercharging small business growth.