A Comprehensive Guide on Backing up & Restoring Your Website
Imagine waking up one morning to see that you’ve missed a couple of calls, and your mailbox is overloaded with emails saying that your site is down. You go to your computer to check your server only to find that all your files are deleted from the database. What would you do?
Here your lifesaver can be website backups. Backing up everything may seem a boring task, but website backups represent your safety net. They act as a critical piece of security if all other resources fail.
In this guide, we’ll talk about everything you would want to know about backing up & restoring your website. So keep reading!
What is Website Backup & Why They Are So Important?
In simple words, website backup is one the greatest insurance plans any website owner can invest in to prevent themself from disaster. Everyone is aware of the importance of backing up their computer files but rarely do they give any credence to ensuring that their website has backups as well.
There are many things, both accidental & intentional, that can destroy all the hard work you have invested in your website. So, if you don’t want to unwittingly sell prescriptions to all your visitors, it is imperative to back up your website files to keep your content safe & secure.
The reasons why you should backup your website are:
Storing the original development of a website isn’t enough
If you’ve developed your website on a test server or your local computer, you may think that it is enough to protect you. However, over time, websites are tweaked & changed, and these changes are often not reflected in the original version. If you run a blog, forum or CRM system, much of your valuable content will be uploaded by your users, and the same won’t exist in any other place than on your website.
You need to be ready to react quickly
Having an updated backup in place will enable you to get back online quickly after the mishap. It is important for you to get your website back online quickly to avoid the loss of income & potential SEO penalties.
It is not your web host’s responsibility to make backups available to you
Most web hosts don’t back up their clients’ website regularly. And the few that do, most of them simply do it for their own protection & don’t make these files available to their customers.
It’s your protection against the viruses
Web hosts don’t proactively run virus & malware scanners against your website. Therefore, backing up your website would be the easiest & best protection, enabling you to turn back the clock after an attack.
How to Backup a Website?
There are several ways to back up a website, but they can roughly be classified into just two categories, i.e., local & online backup.
While local backup services enable you to backup data at your own pace & flexibility, it lacks efficiency, effectiveness & is also time-consuming.
Online website backups, on the other hand, are effective when it comes to storage space. Also, they alert you immediately if there’s any change to your website and enable you to restore your data at any given point in time. This ensures that your website backup always remains up to date & even protected from hackers.
We at BigRock offer an online backup service called CodeGuard. This service automatically takes back up your website at regular intervals. Before moving to how you can use CodeGuard for website backups, let’s take a quick look at some of its advantages.
Advantages of CodeGuard
- It is an automatic cloud backup solution that backups your website on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis & never based on whenever you want.
- It enables you to restore your website backup at any given point in time.
- It has a simple and hassle-free setup process and is easy to use with little manual user involvement.
- CodeGuard monitors your website’s files, and databases for changes & notifies you of changes if any. Thus, you get regular backup updates.
- Your website data is secured & encrypted using AES 256 bit techniques & stored in the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Website backup with CodeGuard is a simple 4-part process, which includes:
- Connecting your website files to CodeGuard
Here you simply add your website URL, then choose the server (FTP or SFTP), enter your server’s credentials such as username, password & IP address and click on the ‘Test Website Connection.’
- Choose the files you wish to backup
Once your server is connected, you’ll be redirected to a new screen. Here you need to select the root directory of your website & then click on the ‘Select Root Directory’ button to proceed.
- Monitors your website
CodeGuard does not allow anything to go unnoticed. It detects every change made to your website & notifies you instantly. Thus, you can control the settings on your dashboard about what you want to be updated or not.
- Restores your website
Lastly, it stores your backup in its repository with a timestamp & detailed information on each change and enables you to restore it whenever you want. You can either restore it automatically online or do it manually by downloading the .zip file of your site backup.
And you’re done! Setting up CodeGuard to backup your website is easy!
Best Practices for Creating a Website Backup Strategy
No matter which method you choose, website backups need to have a workflow plan; otherwise, any mentioned system you have could suffer certain serious vulnerabilities. So, make a checklist & determine answers to the following categories
How often to backup?
This is the most important point- do you want to run your backups daily or monthly? You may even consider the idea of running one every time there is a change to your website, such as a new product, new blog post, etc. This is completely up to you, but you must ensure that you have a plan in place.
Following the above statement, setting a schedule is the key. As a baseline, you’ll probably want to set a schedule for when your website backups will occur.
Storage & retention span
Where you’ll be storing this data? Will you be keeping copies on your server or even your laptop, or you’ll be using an external hard drive or the cloud service?
Moreover, how long do you need to keep copies of each backup? Will files from a year ago be necessary, or are they just gathering dust & can they be replaced by more recent backups? Figure out answers to these questions before you start with your website backup.
Security for your website backups is very crucial, particularly if you have proprietary information (such as customer records or confidential product pricing information). Make sure to have a plan for keeping your site backups encrypted & protected.
Store backups on RAID Arrays
Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks or RAID Arrays is not just a good idea for creating multiple copies of your website and data but also improves performance. These arrays provide extra protection in case one of the disks fails. This is a typical feature offered by professional backup services.
Make sure to have a procedure in place in case you don’t need to restore every single piece of your website. Maybe most of it is fine, but some of the pieces may have been lost. For instance, if one product table gets damaged, you will only need to replace that piece in your SQL dump. This idea is typically better than wiping out everything to replace just one file. In fact, it is a common mistake people usually make by replacing everything if something goes wrong. This, however, will work, but you’ll lose everything that occurred after the last backup. Therefore, it is best to identify if you need to replace everything. Save full backups for the last resort if everything else fails!
Restoring your Backup
Okay, so your website just disappeared, but you have a backup of everything. How do you restore your website from the backup? This pretty straightforward than taking backups. If the copy is stored as a zip file, simply unzip it & load all the files back into their original location. Take the SQL file, which is the text file created during the SQL dump & either recreate the database using the command-line, or if you’re using phpMyAdmin (or any other graphical database management system), or you can either import the file or copy the entire thing into an SQL window & run it.
Test it out locally to see if everything is working fine, then load it all back up on to the server. With this, you should be up & running in no time.
If you’re using a professional backup service like CodeGuard by BigRock, this process will likely be much easier!
While certain methods might have better advantages over others, backing up your website is a necessity that shouldn’t be overlooked. Ideally, you should consider using the combination of the methods mentioned above. Ensuring that you have duplicate copies of all the files will save you a huge headache down the road. Even if nothing goes wrong with your website, and you may not need this, just think about the extra sleep you will get, not worrying about it.