the Web Czar

Here’s A Quick Way To Back Up Your Website In Less Than 10 Minutes

If you weren’t paying attention, you may have missed it. Did I say “Back Up Your Website?” Yep. Bet you really never think about that, do you? I mean, the hosting guys do that automatically, don’t they?

Well….. they say they do. But let’s think for a moment. If you’re hosting your website with one of these “el-cheapo” outfits that promises you the moon for only four dollars a month and whose support center is located somewhere between Calcutta and Tibet – how much time do you think they’ll invest in server backups or data recovery?I’ll relate my own rather painful and personal experience. As a Web Designer, I contracted with an Alabama firm for hosting, along with the requisite service package. Imagine my horror when about 60% of my websites disappeared inexplicably! During a scheduled electrical upgrade to the data facility, there was an unplanned power outage. Upon reboot, it was discovered that some equipment was damaged – as well as the backups. I immediately moved several affected websites to a new host, restoring them from my own backups, but a few more had to be completely rebuilt from scratch. How embarrassing. Realizing I could no more depend on a hosting company to recover my data than I could the weatherman to forecast Sunny and 74 degrees this weekend, I set out to create an effective and affordable “backup” back-up plan.

Here’s what I do.

Start with a good hosting firm
Backup Your Website Locally
Do It Again – On a Pocket Hard Drive or USB Key
Do It Again – In the Cloud

Okay, you could probably get away with doing it on a hard drive OR the cloud, but I do them both I’ll never again worry about restoring a website!

Start with a good hosting firm.

There are several good hosts, but in my opinion, Rackspace is the gold standard, and it comes with a matching price tag. To make it even better, I utilize their “Cloud” service – so my websites exist on several servers in multiple data centers, so even when an issue develops, the affected machine’s data is quickly replaced by the replicated data on another server. Kinda like the Borg, for you Trekkies. While not completely infallible, website downtime is minimized.

Backup Your Website Locally

If you publish your website to the web with software like Dreamweaver or Expression Web, you likely have a “backup” copy locally already, it’s the one you edit on your computer. If you publish your website utilizing an online service, it may have a backup utility that will compress your website for download. If so, just download the backup file to your computer.

If you don’t have these options, your host should offer FTP access which will allow you to download your website.

I automate the backup process for all of my sites with software. You might try SiteVault, a program that once set up, will automagically back up your website on a schedule that you determine. In the event of a website loss, (or if you just want to restore a previous version) you can restore the entire website with a few clicks. It even works on database-driven websites.

Do It Again – On a Pocket Hard Drive or USB Key

So, what happens if you website goes down – AND your computer is hosed? Many victims of the recent flooding lost everything – including their data. If your website is backed up on a USB key or Pocket Hard Drive, no worries. Store it away from your computer in the event of a disaster.

Do It Again – In the Cloud

Well, this might be a bit redundant – but that’s the name of the game, right? Utilizing an affordable online backup/storage service like SugarSync or JungleDisk, you can access your backed-up website from any internet-connected computer.

Of course, in order to be effective, you must actually do the backups. This means establishing a routine – I’d advise doing it weekly at a minimum. It’ll be worth the investment of time should you ever experience a website loss. Of course, MY clients don’t have to worry about this. Wink, Wink.

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