Despite only being a few months into 2023, this year has already seen some high-profile data breaches. From Twitter and JD Sports to GoDaddy, even the biggest names out there can be vulnerable to online ambushes. But regardless of size, it’s important to protect your business from the ever-present threat of cyber attacks.
For your annual reminder to keep your data safe and sound, World Backup Day lands on Friday 31st March. And in the spirit of “it’s better safe than sorry”, domain and hosting provider Fasthosts has put together a handy, easy-to-follow guide on backing up your website.
What does backing up mean?
Put simply, a backup is a digital copy of your website that can be restored in case something goes wrong with the live version. What the backup includes depends on whether you have a static website or use a CMS like WordPress, and how you’re backing up your site. As a general rule of thumb, the more files you can keep safe the better.
If you’re wondering why website backups are important, it’s simple – they’re a plan B that protects you against data loss that can occur from cyber threats or human error.
When should you back up?
We recommend you always have a recent backup of your website, ideally at least daily or weekly. Obviously that will change depending on how frequently you update your website, but the longer you leave it, the more work you’re likely to lose if something happens.
It also depends on your site – smaller, static websites should be fine without regular backups. But online stores, blogs and bigger websites need consistent backups. It’s good practice to backup your entire website before making any significant changes to it, moving it to a new host, or changing your site’s domain.
What needs backing up
There are two parts of a website that need backing up – its web files and its database. Website files are the files stored in the main directory sometimes known as ‘public_html’ or ‘htdocs’. They include core files, images, code files and static web pages, plus plugins and themes if you use a content management system (CMS).
The database stores site data NOT included in the site files, like user info, application data and CMS data including posts, shop content, and comments. So for the majority of sites, a full backup requires you to back up both the website files and the database.
Types of backups
Full backup – A full backup is a complete copy of all data in a single instance.
Differential backup – A differential backup will include any changes since the last full backup, even if the changes have already been included in a previous differential backup.
Incremental backup – An incremental backup will include any changes or new content since the last full or incremental backup.
Consider what to back up
Your backups will not always need to contain all of your data, especially if you have multiple backups going daily and weekly. If the data you’re backing up is not regularly changed or is completely static, then you can get by with periodic full backups
If you are making changes more often, then you might consider incremental or differential backups, both of which are partial backups of data including changes since previous backups. Implementing these methods can allow you to save space and time.
Automate and schedule backups
In some systems, irregular and/or manual backups can be enough, but where possible, you should implement automatic and scheduled backups. This means you’re less likely to run into issues as a result of human error and will have consistent backups.
Have multiple backups
Having a single backup is a great start. However, especially when backups are automated, this can result in issues in the original content being copied across into the sole backup – leaving you with nothing to restore from. How many backups, how often you make backups and how long you can keep them will vary based on how often you make changes and how critical the backup is.
Backup to multiple locations
When backing up data, at the very least it should be in a different location to any original/live content. If the backup and original are stored in the same place then both could be lost if there were any issues. You may consider keeping one backup on a local system and one off-site backup such as using a remote server or online storage provider.
Whether you’ve got a single website or multiple locations, staying on top of your data protection is vital. If it’s not something you’ve considered before, now’s the time to get on it! Your future self will thank you.