Best Practices For Website Backup In 2024

Once you’ve built a website and it’s live, you might think your work is done – but there’s still one thing left to consider. How will you safeguard your website and protect it from data loss? In this article, we’ll go over the best website backup practices in 2024, from the why to the how, so you can ensure your website files and data are always safe. 

Why Website Backups Are Essential 

Website backup is the safety net you don’t want to take lightly, no matter how good your website security is. Imagine losing all your website content, customer data, and hard work in an instant—whether through a hacker’s malicious attack, a faulty update, or even a simple human mistake. The consequences can range from minor inconvenience to loss of business. Regular backups are an essential part of website maintenance that ensures you can quickly restore your website back to its original state if anything goes wrong, minimising downtime and keeping your operation running smoothly. 

What Is Downtime And Why Does It Matter?

Website downtime is a business metric that tracks the amount of time a website is ‘down’ or inaccessible. The lower your downtime, the better for productivity, profits and your search engine ranking. You can read our article on why websites go down if you want a more comprehensive overview. If your website does go down, having a firm backup strategy and procedure in place means you can get your website back up and running again as quickly as possible.

How Often Should You Backup Your Website?

The frequency of your website backups depends on how often your site’s content changes. For most sites, a weekly backup is a good starting point. However, if you’re running an e-commerce site, a blog with daily posts, or a site with high user interaction, daily backups might be more appropriate. It’s about striking a balance between not losing too much data and not overloading your storage with too many backups. Small changes? Weekly or even monthly backups might be enough. Lots of daily updates? Consider daily backups.

Are Regular Backups Really Necessary?

For many websites, daily backups might seem like overkill. However, they can be a game-changer for sites with frequent updates or high transaction volumes. Daily backups reduce the risk of significant data loss, ensuring that you can restore the most recent version of your site with minimal disruption. Think of it as an insurance policy; it might feel unnecessary—until you need it. For sites where the content and data are static and don’t change often, less frequent backups might suffice. Assess your site’s activity and decide accordingly.

Types Of Website Backup Strategies 

Full Website Backup

Full backups copy every file and database, taking a comprehensive snapshot of your entire website. This is the most thorough type of backup, and it makes restoring your site easy as you have all your website data ready to go. However, this does come at a cost – it requires more server storage space and takes longer to complete. Additionally, they only capture a moment in time on your website, so they have to be paired with incremental or differential backups.

Incremental Backups 

Incremental backups save only the changes made since the last backup. After an initial full backup, each subsequent partial backup will only include files that have been added or altered. This method saves time and storage space but requires a complete sequence of backups for a full restore. This means restoration can be slow, as you need to apply the full backup and then each incremental backup in sequence.

On-Demand Backup

On-demand, comprehensive backups are done whenever needed instead of on a set schedule. This might be done before major updates or changes to provide a safety net if anything goes wrong and your site breaks. The only downside to on-demand backups is that they can be forgotten or overlooked if you don’t have a set backup schedule, potentially leaving gaps in your backup coverage.

Real-Time Backups

Real-time backups are ideal for websites that handle constant changes or transactions. They capture data as it changes, ensuring that every transaction or update is immediately backed up. This method provides the highest level of data protection but can be resource-intensive.

Differential Backups

Similar to incremental backups, differential backups start with a full backup. Then, each differential backup includes all changes made since the initial full backup, not just since the last backup. This means differential backups grow larger over time but are quicker to restore than incremental backups, as you only need the full backup and the latest differential backup.

Cloud-Based Backups

Cloud backups mean backup files are stored online with a third-party provider. Cloud backup services like this offer flexibility, scalability, and ease of access from any location with internet access. Cloud backups are an effective off-site backup solution, though they depend on the reliability of the cloud provider and internet connectivity. Ongoing costs can also be higher in the longer than on-site backups, but you don’t have any upfront costs hardware or server costs.

Automatic Backups To Protect Your Website

Cloud-based, automated backups are widely agreed upon as the best practice in 2024. They allow you to regularly back up without manual intervention, minimising room for human error. The real advantage of automating your website backups lies in the peace of mind it offers. Once you’ve set up your preferred backup method, you won’t need to worry about remembering to back up your site—it will happen automatically, ensuring regular, consistent backups that greatly reduce the risk of significant data loss. This frees up your time for you to concentrate on running your business. 

How To Automate Website Backups

The easiest way to set up cloud-based automatic backups is through your web hosting provider. Most hosting providers offer tools for automated backups directly in the cPanel. These tools allow you to set the frequency and type of backups, such as daily or weekly, full or incremental, depending on your site’s needs and activity levels. Just make sure you do your research and choose a reliable hosting provider with a proven track record of limited downtime and a transparent backup service. 

WordPress Backup Plugins 

If your website is run on a CMS like WordPress, you can automate your backup process using a backup plugin. These plugins enable you to schedule backups, decide which parts of your site to back up and offer options like cloud services for off-site storage.

How To Backup Your Website Manually

Learning how to manually backup your website yourself is useful if you prefer a more hands-on approach to your website or just want to cover all your bases. To do a manual backup, log in to your web hosting account, find the directory where your website files are stored and use an FTP client to download the files to a safe location on your computer where you can easily access and restore backups. If you’ve got automatic cloud backups set up, this isn’t necessary – but it doesn’t hurt either if you want to make sure that your website is protected to the max and your backups are safe.

If you’re relying solely on manual backups, make sure you do a full database backup regularly! If anything happens to your website, you don’t want to be caught without a recent backup on hand, as you won’t be able to restore the latest version of your site.

How To Restore Your Website To Its Previous State

Restoring your website to a previous state might seem complex, but it’s quite straightforward if you have a recent backup. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Restore the Files: Use your FTP client to connect to your web server. Delete the current files (after ensuring you have a complete backup, just in case) and upload the files from your backup. Make sure you upload everything to the correct directory, often public_html.
  2. Restore the Database: Log in to your hosting control panel and open phpMyAdmin. Select the database your website uses, and drop the existing tables (make sure you’ve backed these up before dropping them). Then, click on the ‘Import’ tab, choose your backup database file, and press ‘Go’. This will restore your website’s database and files to its previous state.
  3. Check Your Website: After restoring both files and the database, visit your website to check everything is running as it should. Sometimes, you might need to clear your browser’s cache or adjust settings in your website’s backend to get everything working smoothly.

If you encounter any issues during the restoration process, don’t hesitate to contact your hosting provider’s support team. They can offer guidance and assistance to ensure your website is restored correctly.

Is The Classic 3-2-1 Backup Solution Still Necessary?

The 3-2-1 is a long-standing, popular site backup method that ensures that you have multiple layers of protection for your data, guaranteeing that you’ll be able to recover your information if something goes wrong. Here’s how it works:

  • 3 copies of your data: one primary copy and two backups.
  • 2 different media types for the backups, like an external hard drive and a cloud storage service. This reduces the risk of both backups failing.
  • 1 off-site backup: one of the backups should be stored in a different location to protect against physical disasters like fire or theft.

While it is a highly reliable backup method, it is a lot more costly than just storing backups of your website through your hosting provider. There’s a lot of debate as to whether the 3-2-1 backup principle is still necessary in 2024 with all the advancements there have been to cloud technology since the 3-2-1 approach was first popularised in 2005 with the book Digital Asset Management for Photographers by Peter Krough. Cloud technology offers a more robust and reliable way to backup data than ever – if you really want to ensure your backup files are extra safe from data loss, just do a manual backup, too.

We’re An Experienced Web Hosting Provider 

As part of our web hosting service, we offer efficient and reliable cloud site backups at Futuretheory. Our web hosting and backup solutions are highly scalable, meaning we can backup your website as frequently as you need, depending on your needs, whether that’s hourly or daily, incremental or real-time.

Our web hosting service is comprehensive and makes use of enterprise-grade hardware for excellent performance and fast load times. To give you peace of mind, we guarantee an uptime of 99.9%, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business, knowing that your website is in capable hands. Our web hosting plans start at $20 a month. Contact us today if we sound like the right solution for you.

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