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The three most important points about backing up your website are:
- Automate the process so you don’t need to remember to do it
- Store the back-ups somewhere other than on the server where your website is hosted
- Make sure you’re backing up everything you need to get your site started again – for example, both database and files
Let’s look at each of those points in a bit more detail:
The best kind of automation is when you literally don’t have to do anything except set it and forget it, which includes:
- Hiring someone to do it – your host, a third-party, or your niece.
- Setting up software, such as a plugin for your content management system or a function in your hosting control panel.
At the very least, though, you could set up a reminder in your calendar app to manually do a backup once a week or whatever frequency suits your site.
If your site’s server goes down, it’s not going to do you much good if all your backups were stored on that server, so off-site storage is a must. There are two common options for going the off-site route:
In fact, your best solution is to do both. No storage system is foolproof, so there’s safety in numbers.
However, cloud storage is probably the simplest for most people to set up in conjunction with software or services that perform automated backups.
And notice that I say external hard drives. That’s because you don’t want your computer crashing and taking your backups with it.
Another option is to set up a hosting account with a different hosting company and have your backup program send the files there. That way if your current host has some major problem, you’re ready to go on a different host.
Back Up Everything
Make sure you know exactly what you need to get your site up and running again. In the case of content management systems like WordPress, you’ll need both the database and the files (the files that run WordPress as well as your themes, plugins, and media content).
If you store email on your server (as opposed to downloading email as it arrives and deleting it from the server), you’d want to make some provision for backing up your email, such as archiving it on your machine or getting a back up stored in the cloud.