It’s Not A Question of If, but When (You’ll Lose All That Data)

burning-moneyI get it. Most people who own a website don’t take the time to back up their data because they simply don’t believe the tragedy can happen to them. Others are lazy perhaps. Still others may not even be aware that such a risk even exists.

With CMS software like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal accounting for a skyrocketing share of the internet, the potential risk of losing data has never been greater to the average business owner. The good news is the same phenomenon offers paths to securing data that are much easier than ever before. The key to being on the happy side of this two-way chopper is firmly understanding that your security doesn’t happen automatically or by accident.

Let’s go over some of the basics.

If you’re running a website on WordPress or something similar then you have two main components responsible for making your website what it is. You have files and you have a database. You must have current backups available for both of these. And that means if you have a website that’s frequently changing, your files and database must be backed up at regular, short intervals.

Ask yourself: are you personally aware of a backup system for your website that covers both of these areas? And if so are you absolutely certain that it’s working properly. If you’ve answered a fist-pounding ‘yes’ to both of these questions, congratulations. If you answered no, just pause for a moment to consider what you’ve invested in your website. All of the startup costs, all of the hours you’ve put into the edits and additions. What does that look like in dollars? How would it feel to start from zero, just because you failed to protect yourself? Indeed.

So, what to do?

First let’s tackle the website files. Accessed through an FTP client like CuteFTP or Transmit, your directories can be backed up by simply dragging all of your server’s files into a directory on your local harddrive. This will suffice but probably will be something you’d rather not do manually on a regular basis. To automate the process, explore automated solutions like WinSCP or MyBackupBox. There’s likely to be a maintenance fee involved, but I’d wager the small expense will far outstrip the pain of keeping a schedule of manual backups.

Second let’s get that database locked down. In WordPress one can’t function without the help of a plugin by the name of Better WP Security. Not only does it go to significant lengths to protect a website from malicious attacks, it also provides easy automated backups of the WordPress database. If you don’t have Better WP Security, get it. It’s free and for the most part friendly to anyone familiar with basic website concepts.

Go forward, and have fun getting your security system in place. With any luck you’ll never need to find out how valuable it really is.