When people choose a hosting plan, they usually look at the disk space, monthly traffic, speed, mailboxes, etc. When they build a website, they think about the content and the site structure. While these things are definitely very important for their web presence, there is one thing people tend to forget until it is too late – backups.
If anything happens to your website, having a backup is crucial for restoring it. You may delete something by mistake, an update may go wrong or your site may get hacked or infected with malware. Unfortunately, any of these scenarios is likely to happen for one reason or another, so you should be prepared at all times.
Below you will find out why having a backup of your content is important, how you can generate one, and how ICDSoft can help you with this critical task.
Why are backups important?
- Data security. This is one of the most important reasons why you should keep backups of your content. No matter what happens, a good copy of your data will be safe and sound. Think about clients’ personal data, order information or important business emails – losing any of this information can be detrimental to your business.
- Easy recovery. If you have a backup, you can easily restore any lost content. If a backup is generated by your hosting provider, you can usually restore it with a few clicks.
- Save time and money. If any part of your website is lost and you do not have a backup, you will have to add it again. You will waste time recreating the site back the way it was. If you have used the services of a web designer, you may have to pay them an additional fee for fixing the site.
- Keep your business safe. If you rely on your website and/or the data you collect through it, losing it can easily put you out of business. You will not have to worry about that if you keep a backup of the site.
- Easy website migration. If you decide to change your hosting provider or to copy your site to a new domain name and rebrand it, having a ready backup will make things significantly easier.
How often should you generate a backup?
There isn't a definitive answer to this question. If you have a static website that you do not update often, even a single backup will probably suffice. If you have a dynamic website, you may need at least one backup per day to make sure that the latest changes are backed up.
You should consider how important your data is and how much space you need. Based on these factors, you can decide how often you should create your backups. Sometimes you may need one backup at a time, other times it may be better to keep a number of different backups for a while. If your website gets hacked, for example, there may have been malicious code in its files for a while, so the older the backup, the better.
Regardless of your backup schedule, we recommend that you back up your site before and after any major content update or platform upgrade. This way, you can restore the site to its state before the update if anything goes wrong, and you will have a working backup copy of the site after the update in case that you need it so that you don’t go through the update process again in the future.
How to create a backup
There are different ways to do that, depending on the type of your website.
Manually. For an HTML website, generating a backup is as easy as creating an archive that includes all files. If your site is database-driven, you will have to export the database as well. Most hosting control panels come with a file manager that will allow you to select the needed files and archive them. If there isn’t such an option, you can use an FTP client to download the content on your computer and then zip it, or connect to your account via SSH (if available) and run the following command (using a file name of your choice and the correct folder path):
zip -r filename.zip foldername/
For the database, you can use a tool like phpMyAdmin that allows you to select and export any MySQL database from your account. For other SQL implementations, there may be other online tools, like pgMyAdmin for PostgreSQL databases, or you can use some desktop application like HeidiSQL that supports MSSQL databases as well. Similar to the files, you can export a MySQL database using SSH access as well:
mysqldump -u USERNAME -p DATABASE > backup.sql
If you have emails, you can download and export them using an email client like Thunderbird. Some providers allow you to zip and download the messages through their File manager as a standard archive file that you can import later.
Automatically. If your hosting company offers backups with their plans, they will be created automatically. The advantage here is that you will have backups of your content even if you have zero experience and you don’t know what and how to export. Such automatic backups normally do not use the disk space of your account. Using automatic backups has a lot of advantages over using manual ones. They are regular and are available 24/7. Restoring such a backup usually takes a few clicks, which can save you precious time if you have to restore any content.
The tricky part here is that many hosting providers offer backups, but you have to read the fine print to see if you can really use the service. Some providers back up only a small part of the content, or only website files, but no emails. Others do not have a limit for the backup size, but back up content only if it doesn’t exceed a certain number of files.
Using a plugin. There are some application-specific options to create a backup as well. If you use WordPress, for example, you will find a number of plugins in the WordPress repository that can help you create backups manually or automatically. Just a few examples are UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and Duplicator, but you can use any migration plugin as well. With most plugins, you can choose whether to generate full backups or to back up only specific content (files, database, or certain pages). If you use any of our hosting plans, our WordPress toolkit comes with a 1-click backup and restore function, so you can keep multiple copies of your WordPress files independently from the full account backups that we create twice a day.
Drupal and Joomla are other examples of applications that support backup extensions. They allow you to create backups with a few clicks from the site admin area.
Where should you keep your backups?
If you use a reliable hosting provider that takes care of the backups, you don’t usually have to do anything or worry about storing backup files. If this isn’t the case, however, or you simply want to have a backup of your content, we recommend that you keep at least a couple of copies of your content for extra security. You can use a private folder on your hosting account (although it is recommended not to keep the backup on the same account as the actual content), a flash drive, an external disk, a cloud storage service (Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, etc.), or your own computer.
If you rely on your own backup copy and not on one stored by your hosting provider, it may be a good idea to password-protect the zip file or the folder where you store the files. This will give you an extra layer of security.
In the ideal case, you should keep one backup using two different media and preferably one of them should be offline.
Keep your content secure
You should have a backup of your content at all times as anything can happen. Even if you have to spend a few dollars on that, you will save much, much more compared to the possible losses if your website or emails get deleted, and if you have to rebuild everything from scratch. Even if you keep regular backups, you should make everything possible to keep your content secure so that you never have to restore a backup. Here are a few tips for that:
- Use long and complex passwords. Avoid common words, birth dates, pet names, etc. The longer a password is, the better.
- Use 2-factor authentication if possible. A lot of companies offer a second layer of security along with the account password, so make sure that you use it. This way, even if somebody finds out your login credentials, they will not be able to log in to your account.
- Double-check the emails you receive. Millions of phishing emails are sent out daily and sometimes it may be difficult to say if a message you have received is genuine or not. You can find out more about phishing emails and how to recognize them in our article An Overview of Online Phishing Attacks in 2021.
- Use anti-virus software. Such applications prevent malware from being executed on your computer, but they also monitor your web traffic, so they can prevent possible phishing attacks that can give access to your account to an unauthorized party.
- Update your website. A theme or a plugin you use may have a known security hole. Updating the site software regularly will prevent unauthorized third parties from exploiting that security hole.
How ICDSoft can help you
We know how important backups are, so we help all our customers as much as possible with this task. By default, and at no additional cost, we generate two backups of your entire content every day, no matter how much space it takes or how many files/emails you have. We back up all mailboxes as well, so you will not lose any important email. If you need a backup of your files, databases, or emails from a specific point in time, you can create one manually as well. We keep the automatic backups for 7 days with our shared hosting plans and for 15 days with our Managed VPS packages. The manual backups are available for download for 3 days, but you can move them to a folder on your account with a click and keep them there indefinitely.
Restoring from a backup is very easy as well. You can browse all available backups for your account and restore only the content you need – a specific file, folder, or mailbox. We offer different restore modes, so you can merge current and restored content, or replace anything in the destination folder with the backup content. What is more, you can restore the content of one folder/database/email into another, which makes migrating content within the account or from one account to another very easy.
For even better security, we offer two optional upgrades that you can add to your account at any time. With the Extended Backups upgrade, we will create two additional backups of your entire account each month, and we will keep them for 12 full months. This way, you will be sure that you will have a clean copy of your website no matter what. The Advanced Security upgrade will give you 12 months of malware removal and proactive malware monitoring. With these optional upgrades, you will not have to worry that you will lose precious information or some important email.
If you need help generating or restoring a backup, you can contact our professional tech support team, and they will assist you within minutes.
So, do you really need backups?
The short answer is – YES. If you have a database-driven website and you update it often, or you handle customer information, you should have a backup at all times. It is up to you whether you will create one manually every now and then or you will rely on the automatic backups that your hosting provider generates. The latter option is better as the backups will be created in no time and will not take any space on your account. You can also restore an automatic backup quickly, minimizing the downtime of your website and preventing money and data loss. Of course, you should find a reliable hosting provider that offers a good backup service, not one that tries to prevent you from using it in various ways. Without backups, it is likely that sooner or later you will lose some content for one reason or another.