Does WordPress Hosting Offer a Backup Wizard?
A lot of website owners underestimate the value of a good backup solution, thinking that it’s only useful in the event of a total system crash. While it’s true that a backup solution can never replace proper system administration and storage capacity, it’s also true that it can often help in the event of a system failure. Even if you run a completely unmanaged WordPress site that doesn’t use any of WordPress’ native features, you can still benefit from having a backup solution in place. There are many reasons why having a backup solution is beneficial, but let’s explore some of the most common ones.
Backups speed up data recovery time in the event of a system crash (or, at least, reduce the amount of time it takes to get your site back up and running). They can also serve as a safeguard in the event that something happens to your site’s primary storage (i.e., your disk crashes or experiences some other form of unanticipated downtime). When performing backups, it’s vital to ensure that the process doesn’t harm your server’s performance. This usually means performing backups during off-peak hours and/or using a different server or AWS account to your primary one (if you use AWS, for example). In the event of a system crash, your backup solution should be able to restore your site to its current state within a matter of minutes. Fingers crossed.
Just like with most other technologies, there are good and bad providers when it comes to backups. One of the primary differences between the two is their level of reliability. Even when used appropriately, the backup solution you’ll receive from a poor provider may not be able to withstand a server crash or other unforeseen circumstance that causes serious data loss (e.g., an unanticipated power outage, a malware attack, etc.). Ultimately, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to bring your site back up and running, and that’s not at all fun when you’re already knee-deep in projects.
If you have a site that accepts user-submitted content (e.g., via a contact form or a blog post), you may be opening up the door to potential security threats. An attacker may be able to compromise your site’s security by deleting backups or using them to carry out a DDOS attack (e.g., by overusing a contact form to send spam to your users). To keep your site secure, you’ll need to ensure that backups are stored in a safe place and are inaccessible by anyone (including you) with insufficient permissions. This is especially important if you use a third-party service to store your backups (e.g., Backups Pro, CrashPlan, etc.). It would be best to keep backups on a physically separate device (e.g., a hard drive or magnetic tape). Unfortunately, this often means using additional equipment, which can be quite expensive.
If you decide to host your own site, you’ll have the option of using a free service like WordPress or a paid service like WP Atlas or AWS. If you go with the free option, you’ll be able to get started with a minimal investment, but you’ll also have to rely on your own devices (i.e., your own hands) to secure and back up your data. If you decide to go the paid route, you’ll avoid any security risks and ensure that your data is always backed up, even during peak hours (i.e., when your site is receiving the most traffic). While the upfront investment may be higher, it will ultimately be worth it. You won’t have to worry about securing or backing up your data, and you’ll be able to focus on building and growing your site.
To keep your site’s data secure and backed up, you’ll need to setup a cron job to run a backup every night, or at least once a week. You’ll also need to ensure that the database you use is compatible with your web host’s software. If possible, you should choose a database that supports multiple users, or at least allows you to create users with specific privileges (e.g., a superuser account with global grant access to all data). If you go this route, be sure to remove the account that you created when setting up the database, as this will allow you to restore the database to its original state if something happens.
Backups aren’t just useful in the event of a system crash, they’re also vital for maintaining the integrity of your site’s design. When making changes to your site’s content (e.g., adding a blog post), you’ll need to ensure that the design and layout of your site don’t change. This is usually a problem for those who are switching web hosts because the new host may decide to make changes to the way your site’s content is displayed (e.g., through plugins or customizations to the theme). To keep your site’s look the same, you’ll need to perform backups regularly (at least a few times per week, if not every day). If you use a content management system like WordPress, there are numerous plugins that can help you keep track of what changes have been made to your site’s content over time.
Backups aren’t just useful for system administrators and coders, they’re also vital for site owners and content creators. If you decide to go the DIY route and host your site yourself, you’ll need to secure and back up your data either manually or using a third-party service. When using a third-party service, make sure to vet their reliability and security before using them, as you’ll be handing over your site and its data to another party. If you decide that the investment is worthwhile, you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that your data is always backed up and safe.