While there are many steps that can be taken to keep a website safe – from choosing a reputable hosting company to using strong passwords – there is nothing as important as having a reliable and regular method of backing up your website.
Having an up-to-date backup copy of your site can be essential if you get hacked, but also in the event of several other situations:
MISTAKES THAT RESULT IN DATA LOSS
Mistakes happen. Often. Perhaps an important file – or worse a group of files – are accidentally deleted. Or a seemingly innocuous change is made resulting in troublesome issues. What happens if you have an online store that goes down and you lose revenue while your site is offline?
Sure, there are several ways to fix mistakes, but few are easier and none are less time consuming than simply restoring your site with a backup copy.
It’s important that backups are done frequently enough – daily, weekly, monthly – so ANY changes to a website are captured with a new backup.
UPDATES & COMPATIBILITY
Websites (WordPress websites in particular) are created using pieces of software called themes and plugins (20 or 30 plugins on a single site are not uncommon). Where it can get tricky is that all of these plugins are designed by different manufacturers, yet they all must be compatible with one another for the sake of your website’s functionality and appearance. Keeping these bits of software updated is necessary, but frustratingly can result in unintended outcomes.
When things go wrong during the update process, backups can save hours and hours of work by providing the ability to just restore the website to a time and place where the theme and all the plugins were playing nice with one another.
It’s a cruel, cruel world out there these days with computer bots scanning the world wide web looking to inject malware in vulnerable sites. Even if you’re proactive with website security, hackers have highly sophisticated methods of attack. Despite our best protection efforts, malware happens. And, once malware is injected in a site, it can be a costly and complicated removal and repair.
A clean backup copy can be a great way to reset the site back to a place in time before the problems started, speeding the patch process.
We learn about major website hacks frequently in the news with personal information, like social security and credit card numbers, being stolen. If it can happen to Fortune 500 companies, it can definitely happen to you. It’s almost never personal, it’s just that the dark web has a whole host of bad guys either trying to destroy your site or steal valuable information. Because they can.
If you have a backup, you can regain control of your site quickly and then update credentials to prevent an attack from happening in the future.
It’s never a good idea to make significant changes to a live website. That’s what test or staging environments are for.
Staging sites are basically backup copies of your website that you can make changes to without effecting your live site. Once changes are approved, you can push staging changes into your live site.
SO…LET’S DO THIS!
There are many options out there for creating backups. Reputable web hosts often provide backups as part of their hosting plans (just keep in mind these updates are often limited to a certain predefined number of days). And there are literally hundreds of plugins that provide automated backups.
Whatever method you use, just be sure to create backups often AND store these backups in multiple, highly secure locations. Backups are useless if they’re outdated or can’t be accessed.