Over the last couple weeks we have been working with a few different hosting companies on behalf of our clients and for one reason or another have requested either file or database backups. A few times the backups have been a struggle to get for one of the following reasons:

  1. It is not the policy of the host to provide backups to their customers
    This is probably the most frustrating reason of all! Web hosts typically include a bullet point about regular backups  in their service description, so why on earth would they refuse to give them to their customer. The explanation we have gotten is that the backups are to protect them from failure and are to be only pulled in the event something fails on their side (not the customers).
  2. Regular backups are not taken
    On two occasions within the last few weeks we have been provided a backup by a hosting company only to find it is months or weeks old. There are times when this will do the trick but if your site is active and/or holds critical information such as ecommerce orders, even losing a day’s worth of data can be damaging to your business.
  3. No backups are taken (full responsibility of the account holder to provide their own solution)
    This is the most scary reason of all. Typically on super budget hosting plan, not having any kind of backup plan is simply crazy.

What to ask you host about Website backups

Make sure to read your hosts policy on backups and get the following questions answered:

  1. How often are backups taken of both the Web files and database?
  2. Do I have access to those backups at anytime?
  3. If you do not provide backup and/or access to those backups, do you have tools that allow me to setup my own backup routine?

Protect yourself with your own Website backup solution

Just because a Web host says that they backup regularly, the worst time to find out they really don’t is when you actually need a recent backup. Protect yourself by putting your own backup policy in place. There are many easy solutions out there that allow you to create regular backups. You can have them emailed to you, stored on a third party service such as Rackspace Cloud or Amazon S3. These solutions can be automated and only cost as little pennies a month. WordPress for example has several easy to use plugins and Drupal has the backup and restore module. Both are relatively easy to setup. Many other CMS’s also have out of box solutions and or a custom solution is most likely not a huge challenge.

How we do website backups

For the sites we host, we automatically backup both site files and database each night and store those off site (separate system than the website itself). Daily backups are kept for 7 days and a weekly backups are kept for at least a month. On occasion we pull a backup and restore the site to a test server to test the validity of the backup.