Let me tell you a little story. A story about how keeping off-site backups of my site (and my client sites!) saved my skin.
Recently, my host experienced a… cataclysmic failure. It was a complete freak accident that I don’t think anyone could have seen coming, but it resulted in almost every website they host going offline.
Unfortunately, it took them quite a while to get back online – they went down Friday evening and my server wasn’t restored until Tuesday morning.
Not only were the websites down, but nobody could access their hosting account at all. No FTP, no cPanel Access, nothing.
Now, if it was just my own website, I would have probably just waited it out. I’m not important enough (and don’t get nearly enough traffic) to worry about a weekend offline. But I also host several client sites – and all of those went down, too. As the person responsible for those sites, I couldn’t, in good faith, leave them offline.
Luckily for me, I had daily off-site backups running on my site and both of my clients’ sites. Meaning I was able to quickly grab the backups, restore them temporarily on a cheap VPS, and get them back online while we waited for the main server to be restored.
It wasn’t ideal. But it meant getting online three days sooner than we would have if we’d waited it out.
The moral of the story? Always back up your websites. Optimally with off-site backups.
Okay, but… what are off-site backups?
Good question! An “off-site backup” is exactly what it sounds like: a backup of your website that is stored somewhere other than where your site is hosted. You could store them in Dropbox, or Google Drive. You could download them to your computer, or save them to an external hard drive. Where they’re stored isn’t as important as making sure that:
- You have them.
- They’re not stored on your hosting account.
- You can easily access them.
Why are off-site backups better than regular backups?
A lot of WordPress backup solutions will save your backups to a folder in your WordPress installation. Which means they’re being stored in the same place as your website. Unless you’re manually downloading those backups and storing them somewhere else, you’re at risk to lose everything on your website.
If you’re keeping your backups with your website, you also run the risk of not being able to recover from a hacked website. I’ve seen cases of website getting hacked and the hacker deleting everything on the hosting account. Which means you can kiss your backups goodbye.
And if they put malware on your website? There’s now a risk that your backups have also been compromised with malware, making restoring to a “safe” version of your website almost impossible.
But keeping your backups off-site means, should something catastrophic happen to your hosting account, you’re probably going to be able to get back online pretty easily.
How do I set up off-site backups?
There are numerous plugins that you can use to safely (and pretty easily) set up off-site backups for your WordPress website.
Jetpack, Automattic’s all-in-one WordPress booster, offers daily off-site backups on all of their paid plans. And with plans starting at $3.50/month, it’s kind of a steal.
If you’re on a tight budget, UpDraftPlus is one of the most popular WordPress backup plugins available. And the free version will let you upload your backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or even Amazon S3 servers!
Of course, if you want unlimited daily off-site backups, along with managed WordPress updates, security scanning, performance monitoring, and a slew of other services, you could check out my WordPress Maintenance Plans. They start at $35 monthly and include priority support – if your website goes down, I can have you back up in a jiffy. ?
*Not an actual photo of my website. But it might as well be.