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Why You Need Automated Backups of Your Website

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is an SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his SEO agency, Lockedown Design.

If you run any sort of business, you already understand how important your website is to your marketing and revenue generation.

Most businesses can’t afford to have their websites go down or be out of commission.

Bu one of the biggest things that businesses should be doing, but aren’t doing is getting regular backups of their site.

Site backups are a snapshot of all the files and data that make up your site. It’s a great idea to have regular offsite backups of your website created automatically.

Website backups are like insurance. You don’t think about them much when things are going right, but you’re happy to have them available when things go sideways.

Why Do You Need Regular Backups of Your Site?

For websites that are updated regularly, offsite backups are vitally important for one major reason.

What happens if your server or website gets hacked? If you don’t have a clean, recent backup of your site, restoring your site is going to be difficult. Even in a best case scenario, you’re going to be losing information.

If you have backups of your site that are untainted and malware-free, restoring your site is a much easier and quicker process.

Notice how I said you should have offsite backups? What I mean by this is your backups shouldn’t be sitting on the same server as your normal website. If your website gets hacked, it’s likely that everything on that server has also been compromised.

It’s awesome if your hosting company does daily backups of your website (like WP Engine does), but it’s not something you should 100% rely on in case of an emergency. Remember, if your site gets hacked, anything on that server can also get hacked.

Backups Are Part of Your Website Security Plan

Why do businesses neglect to have a backup plan in place? Most of the time, no one has advised them that they should be doing this.

The older the site, the less likely it is that there is an effective backup plan in place, and the greater the devastation will be if the server gets compromised by malicious code.

Scheduling regular backups is an important part of website security, because a clean backup gives you a safe place to start over from if something goes terribly awry.

Creating a Backup Plan For Your WordPress Site

WordPress sites, along with other sites powered by a CMS (content management system), have two major components: the database and the files that create the pages.

With WordPress websites, it’s important to backup the database, themes, plugins, and uploads on a regular basis.

There are several options for scheduling offsite backups. Some are free; others are paid. The solution that is right for you depends on your particular business.

Freemium Backup Plugins

For many small businesses, a free backup plugin may be all they need to add that extra level of insurance.

The downside of most free backup plugins is your developer may have to do part of the restoration manually.

Ease of site restoration is a big factor to consider when choosing a backup solution.

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is a free plugin on the WordPress repo that follows the freemium business model. The free version gives you good functionality, but the premium version and it’s add-ons allow you to have automated processes with a lot of flexibility.

With the free version of UpdraftPlus, you can backup to one external cloud storage source. Dropbox, Amazon S3, Glacier, Google Drive, and Rackspace are all options for external storage, as well as UpdraftVault — their own cloud storage.

You can restore an old backup to your site by logging into your WordPress admin panel, and selecting an existing backup.

In the paid version of UpdraftPlus, you can get the bundle of all the add-ons and a year of support starting at $70 for two websites.

In the paid version, there are add-ons for automated backups to multiple cloud storage accounts such as Microsoft Azure, OneDrive, Google Cloud, Amazon S3, and many others.

Another great thing about the premium version is you can backup your site as often as every four hours. The premium version also features automatic backup pruning, and supports WordPress Multisite, while many backup plugins do not currently support.

BackWPup

BackWPup is another fremium plugin that appears on the WordPress plugin repo. It also lets you back up your site to cloud storage accounts like Dropbox, Rackspace Cloud, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, or SugarSync.

The free version of BackWPup runs manually or by using a cron job. This means if you have a weekly backup scheduled, it triggers the backup when someone visits your site on that day.

The Pro version of BackWPup starts at $75 a year for one site, and also lets you back up to Google Drive and Amazon Glacier.

Premium Backup Plugins and Services

BackupBuddy

Perhaps the best know backup plugin in the WordPress space is BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy costs $80 per year for one site, $150 a year for unlimited sites, and $297 for lifetime unlimited websites.

BackupBuddy allows you to schedule different types of backups — database only, just specific folders, or the entire site. You can also schedule backups for a variety of time intervals — from hourly to monthly.

You have the usual array of external cloud storage options: Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Rackspace, and their own cloud storage — BackupBuddy Stash.

Restoring your site is fairly painless, though it falls a bit short of one-click restoration. BackupBuddy uses a tool called ImportBuddy to restore your site from a zip file.

One thing that’s useful about BackupBuddy is it can also be used to quickly clone a site or migrate a site to a new domain.

There are a couple of limitations with BackupBuddy, that may or may not influence your decision. Multisite is not supported with Backup Buddy. This plugin also does not work if you have renamed your wp-content folder for security reasons.

BlogVault

BlogVault is more of a concierge service that handles many aspects of the backup process. BlogVault has extensive pricing tiers, but starts at $89 per year for one site.

BlogVault stores multiple encrypted backups of your website in secure data centers and on Amazon S3. This is for an extra layer of security.

They have a pain-free auto-restore feature that works via FTP. They also also let you do a test restore to see if your info is correct before deploying your backup to your live site.

Backups are stored on their servers, not yours, so this also increases security while minimizing your server load.

ManageWP

ManageWP is a service that is targeted more towards design agencies with multiple clients. There are several plans, but for one site, it starts out at about $50 a year.

ManageWP lets you backup to Dropbox, Amazon S3, and Google Drive. You can choose between daily, weekly, or monthly backups.

Restoring a site from an existing backup can be done using their Clone tool (very similar to how BackupBuddy works), or you can manually restore the database and files using cPanel.

VaultPress

VaultPress is a paid service from Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

If you have a site that has frequently updated content, such as a busy forum, or any busy site with user-generated content, daily site backups may not be enough in case of an emergency.

VaultPress offers real-time backups and one-click restore to either your live site or a test site.

The top-level plan is $299 a year (if paid annually), and includes a complete archive of your backups, daily security scanning, and spam protection.

There are also lower tier plans. If you only need thirty days of daily backups, but still want the spam protection, this runs $99 a year. If you want real time backups and auto-restore only, this costs $165 a year if paid annually. (The latter is a hidden option on the Pricing page).

Conclusion

I know that automated website backups are not the most glamours topic, but it’s something that every business should have a plan for.

There are too many things that can happen to take down your site, from hacking to human error. Having a plan to restore a safe version of your site in case of emergency is part of risk mitigation, and a critical factor in website management.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is an SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his SEO agency, Lockedown Design.

2 comments on “Why You Need Automated Backups of Your Website

  1. I completely agree.

    Lack of automated backups is a common oversight for many WordPress-based sites, and it is one that sometimes results in serious consequences.

    A full-on disaster recovery and business continuity plan is valuable…essential even, for any website; but few site administrators actually take the time to create one.

    Usually, “backups” become a hindsight reaction to a catastrophe that could have been avoided.

    Indeed, backups are not glamorous, but they are crucial!

    Great post.

  2. Good to see you again, CJ.

    Backups are the insurance plan that keeps us safe in case something goes wrong on our site. You can never have too many places where you are keeping redundant backups!

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