There are many reasons to backup your WordPress site and database on a regular schedule. Establishing a backup routine, whether manual or automated, is a relatively simple and straightforward task that will save you time, money, and likely your sanity in the long run.
This article examines online risks that could impact you at any moment, as well as some backup options to proactively protect yourself against the inherent dangers of the Internet, and the world we live.
The first question to ask, does your website truly need to be backed up, and if so, what frequency is optimal? If your website is static (content does not change), then backing up only when you make a change is fine. If you make daily changes (blog articles, product, pricing updates, etc), then you will want to backup weekly at the bare minimum.
Web Host Server Back Ups – Many Not as Robust as You Need
Many website owners and administrators assume their web host is conducting regular backups of their sites, however this may not always be the case. To ensure you know what your host’s “backup” service entails, confirm what they backup, and how often. What your host actually provides and the frequency, may not support your needs (or organization’s policy) to ensure a swift and painless recovery to protect your business/reputation, as well as possible customer data.
Causes for WordPress Site Backups.
There are many potential culprits that could drive a WordPress site restore from a previous backed up version, but the most likely tend to be hackers and malware. These threats are all too real in today’s online realm. It’s important to take the necessary security measures to prevent harm to a website. Truth be told, even the most diligent individuals and organizations cannot completely prevent online threats as they are constantly evolving. Therefore security software and techniques are reactive to hackers and their exploits, thus another layer is absolutely critical.
The best defense (or at least a critical layer of your website security “system”) against unscrupulous individuals and technology is to have a current and complete site backup (files and database) readily available in the event your site is compromised. Even the best security measures can be circumvented if a hacker is determined. In most cases however, there’s not much determination required as online vulnerabilities are persistently available for exploit.
Natural and Man-made Disaster Risk
Much less likely than a hacker attack, but just as damaging (potentially much more), are natural and man-made disasters (fire, floods, tornado, war, earthquake, etc). Such catastrophic events can permanently destroy web servers and your website data. This illustrates the importance of having a complete and current site backup on a different server than your current site resides, and in a different geographical area. Backing up to Dropbox or Google Drive is sufficient (there are many methods and plugins available). Here’s a blog article, “6 Best Dropbox Plugins for WordPress”, that examines some of the better WordPress Plugins that allow you to backup to Dropbox (and restore in some cases).
Once you choose a means to backup your site, get in the habit of testing to ensure everything is working as intended, and you’re able to quickly restore when the need arises. I would suggest testing your backed up files at least quarterly to ensure all critical files are available, and the backup and/or restore process has not changed.
Monitor Updates for Your WP Backup Plugin
If you choose to use a WordPress Plugin to conduct your backup like many folks do, visit the Admin section of your WordPress site frequently to ensure you have the latest version (this goes for all of your plugins, especially security related). I’m normally within my Admin section at least weekly and the first stop is always the Plugin area to update as needed. I’ve also added a reminder to my calendar for those crazy busy weeks. If I’ll be out of town without Internet access, I coordinate with a team member that has the proper Admin rights who will check for updates.
I Can’t Reiterate Enough – Backup, Backup, Backup!!
This article barely scratches the surface on the many WordPress vulnerabilities and risks which surround us. The intent was only to communicate the criticality of establishing a strict WordPress backup process and system (or standardizing if you “sorta” have a process in place). To reiterate, your current host may not be the best backup solution, so give careful consideration on backing up to a server and location different from where your live site resides.
It doesn’t matter the method you use to backup, as long as you do it consistently, and know with certainty it works, and can actually restore your files and database — eventually, you will be very happy you had such a habit.