Im using the cloud do I still need to back up my servers?
Hosting your website on a cloud is really advantageous as it allows you to pay only for the resources you need or use. Hosting companies handle most of your work, but not everything. One of these things is that they often do not back up your website data effectively.
Many cloud providers claim that they back up your data regularly, but this is not true. This is because cloud hosting companies often provide the backup facility as a complimentary service to expand their customer base, and don’t guarantee zero loss of data. Even if you assign the job to the company and pay for it separately, you may not get the backup of the particular date required by you. For example, the company may have performed the last backup on 5th July, and you want the version of 9th July. This may lead to loss of data entered in those 4 days.
So, if you want to avoid such problems, you should back up your servers on your own. So, let’s discuss this problem in detail so you can make an informed decision which will benefit your business.
Why you should back up your site instead of depending on hosting companies?
The main task of hosting companies is to manage the traffic on your website, and deliver the files or documents that the website visitor asks for. Many companies assert that they will ensure zero loss of data, but when it comes to the well-being of your business, you shouldn’t take any chances.
- Long gaps between back ups
Cloud providers don’t have any personal gain in performing quick back ups for your website. Most of the providers take this responsibility only to attract customers. However, it is really important that your files are backed up in every few weeks or so, especially if you have a blog or Customer Relationships Management website. New content is posted on such websites regularly, and if you want to keep your contributors happy, you should make sure their content is safe.
For example, you have hosted your blogging website through a company on 1st May. The company makes the first back up on suppose 1st June. If a mishap occurs on 20th May, you will lose all the valuable content posted by the website visitors in these 20 days. Thus, making regular backups on your own helps you ensure that in case of a mishap, you never lose your precious data, and can restore your website easily to the latest version possible.
- Don’t back up individual files
Hosting companies back up the whole virtual machine of your website. To make this simpler, you can assume two drafts of a report written by you which has 50 pages in total. If you spill water on one page of the final draft and it is ruined, what will you do? Will you replace and rewrite that one page or take the first draft which is very different from the final one? Obviously, you will remove the page, and rewrite it on another piece of paper.
But hosting companies keep the whole report together. If you lose one page, you will have to use the first draft. This means, that if because of some accident one of the files in your virtual machine gets corrupted you will have to install the whole virtual machine again which may lead to more loss of data.
Instead, if you back up individual files on your own, you can make sure that you don’t need to go through all those steps. You won’t have to move back in order to continue your business.
- Prompt Reaction
With the growing competition in the market, every website is trying to attract traffic in every possible manner. But all your efforts will go in vain if your website goes down for a few hours due to some accident or viruses which led to loss of data.
The hosting companies have to handle a lot of websites, and they will take a lot of time to respond to such a situation. But if you have the latest backup, you can immediately restore your website and ensure that the damage is minimum.
- Protection against malware
With the increasing use of the world wide web, even the smallest online activities are not completely safe. Starting and hosting a website is a big deal, and you should take every possible precaution against the smallest threats. Viruses may corrupt your website anytime and bring huge losses to your business.
Backing up your files on your own ensures that you can easily handle such situations. Viruses often attack only a part of your virtual machine, and since you have backed up everything individually as well, you can restore only the parts that have been corrupted.
- Assurance and Reliability When running a business, it is not easy to delegate or transfer important jobs. You want to handle everything on your own, which is practically impossible. But you can take steps to ensure that you are not completely dependant on anything or anyone. Performing your own back ups ensures that you have an alternative if the hosting company fails. It gives you the assurance that you have got everything under control, which helps you carry out other important tasks without being worried about your website’s backups.
Now, you know taking backup is crucial, but what are the backup solutions that you can take? Let’s dig out in detail.
- Manual Backup
It is the easiest but the most tiring method to back up your website data. You will have to download the data manually to your computer, using File Transfer Protocol. A major advantage is that since you have done the work yourself, there is no scope for errors.
However, manual backups require you to be patient and well-organised. Downloading large files may take up a lot of time and you will have to monitor the process so as to make sure it is done properly. Organisation is needed, because you will have to perform these backups after regular intervals and store the files in such a manner that the latest version is easily identifiable and accessible.
- cPanel Backup
CPanel backup allows you to download the website data in the form of a zip file or compressed file, which takes up less space and is easier to share. To create a backup using cPanel, follow these steps:
- Log in to your cPanel, and go to the files section.
- Click on the “Backup” button.
- Go to the “Download a Full Website Backup” option, which can be found in the “Full Backup” part.
- Choose “Home Directory” as your “Backup Destination”.
- If you want to receive an email notifying you about the completion of the backup process, enter your email id. Then, click on the “Generate backup” button to begin the backup process.
- Your file or data will be downloaded to your “home directory” under the name “backup” and will also include the date.
- Back up to a cloud
Backing up to a cloud means backing up your data in a remote cloud-based server. A major advantage of cloud backup is that it keeps on expanding allowing you to perform as many backups as you want.
One of the most popular cloud solutions for backing up your website data is Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). To store your data on Amazon S3 you will either require a server software (like FileZilla), or you can use backup tools like Backup Buddy. Backup Buddy backs up your whole WordPress website on Amazon S3, Dropbox or Stash. It is easy to set up, and performs automatic backups at scheduled times, decided by you.
- Rsync Backup
Rsync allows you to transfer files to a host server safely through the internet. It allows you to back up selected necessary files, and also encrypts the data to ensure protection. To use Rsync as your backup solution, follow these steps:
- Install CopSSH (for Windows Rsync host) or OpenSSH (for Linux Rsync host).
- Click on the “Backup” tab and go to “Create a New Backup Job”.
- Select “File Protection” option and enter the “Backup User Identity”.
- Choose the applications or data that you think you should back up.
- Select the destination, that is, the Rsync server where you want to copy your data.
- Set your backup schedule, which means that you need to decide the frequency of the backups and the duration for which you would like the backup to be saved.
- Enable notifications for completion of a backup job by providing your mail server settings.
- Give a name to the backup job, and click on “Finish”.
- Automatic Backup Solution
Nowadays every activity can be performed by computers without you having to interfere in it. So why not backups? Automatic backup tools allow you to set up a schedule for your backups which are then performed automatically. Some of the best automatic backup solutions are:
- CodeGuard: CodeGuard sends you updates about the status of the backup process, and even sends you notifications about the changes made in various files. This helps you decide which files are more important to back up. You can also download a zip file of the contents and restore individual files or restore the whole website to any of the backup versions.
- Backblaze: Backblaze is an easy-to-use backup tool which enables you to perform unlimited backups at a relatively cheaper price. It backs up your data on the basis of the file types, and also helps you to locate your computer in case of theft. What makes Backblaze unique is the ability to back up external hard drives. This is useful if your hard drive has some important data related to your website.
- Code42: Code42 is an easily affordable and simple automatic backup tool which notifies you whenever it completes the backup, or if it encounters any errors in the process. It offers unlimited storage and can be configured to manage local resources and bandwidth. You can backup your data either to the Code42 cloud, or the local storage services.
So, Do I still need to back up my servers? The answer is yes. Even if you are hosting your website on a cloud, and the company claims that they are going to back up your data regularly, you should perform your own backups. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Cloud hosting companies may make a lot of claims to increase their customer base, but they cannot perform backups as effectively as you can. Only you know which files are more important to back up, how frequently you should back up your data, and for how long should the backup versions be retained.
The environment is uncertain and unpredictable. You never know when a virus will suddenly corrupt your website and take it down. In such a situation you should have the latest version backed up with you, so you can easily restore your website without suffering loss of data or website visitors. This ensures that your income is not greatly affected due to such mishaps.
So, if you want to run your website without any problems, select the backup solution that suits your requirements and budget, choose an effective backup schedule depending upon the nature of your website (e.g. content management websites should back up their data more frequently), and make sure you check your backups regularly.
Please get in touch with our migrations team via the live chat or call us on 020 3935 8008 and we will happily assist you.