The Importance of Backups

For most users, backups aren’t that important.  They consider that job of the IT staff, which in some cases it is, but what if you are the IT staff.  Most people in IT will tell you that they backup their data, but what they don’t tell you is how often they backup their data.  Recently here in the office we have been updating our websites with the lastest updates, and we realize how reliable we are on backups.  From someone who does webcode, how often should you back up?  Most people will tell you once a week should be enough.  I would say once a day, and before any big updates you have on your site.  Most people would consider everyday to be to often, but I think not.

Remember that your site is on the internet, and the internet is a dynamic environment. The same ideas that we once used for a local network or on our personal computers, don’t apply.  That is where the rule to back up about once a week or once a month comes into play.  On the internet though, once a day will keep you from losing all the work you have done.  Just think about it this way, you have just updated your site code so you make a back up.  Your current back up schedule is to update once a month, just like you do on your personal computer.  Three weeks into the new code, a hacker found a flaw on your site, and they have caused a lot of damage.  You can try to manually repair, but  you know that the best solution is to restore from your backup, but you know that you would loose three weeks of content, and work.  So you are now either forced to lose the work you did in the last three weeks or do extra work by manually making the repairs.  This is also where you promise that you will update more often, but know that you won’t.

Making backups before major updates seem like something that everyone should do, but they don’t.  Major updates can cause issues on your site, things that you did not see in your “beta” phase of testing.  There are other things that may go wrong during the update that can bring down your site, so backing up before a major update is critical.  The question to ask yourself is how long to you want to keep these updates?  This is response that you have to answer yourself.  A week seems like plenty, but it all depends on your site also.  For a blog, the backup may only need to be around long enough to update the blog software, check to see if everything is working fine, then you can delete the backups.  For other sites, say a social media site, you may want to keep the backup for longer.

As web develepers, website admins, and server admins can tell you that backing up is a very important to backup information yourself, and not to depend on others to do it.  Yes, as a web developer, or web admin you may be using a hosting service and think that you don’t have control over your backup, but you can manually backup your files if needed.  As most IT people will tell you not backing up enough is just the same as not backing up at all.

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