World Backup Day: Website Owners, Listen Up!

March 25, 2015 by iWeb Technologies in: Hosting Essentials

World Backup Day is not as peculiar as it may sound. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 94% of companies that suffer a catastrophic data loss without backup will go out of business within 2 years. That’s a lot of livelihoods that could have been saved through a little awareness and simple precautions. Whether your website is a business or a blog, take note. And come with us on a tour of backup – the day, the risks, the options, and tips to help you secure the future of your own website.

With more and more of our lives residing in the digital domain – our financial information, the media we own, our communications, our memories, our transactions, our livelihoods – the safeguarding of digital assets is becoming as crucial as that of the more traditional assets like our home, belongings and businesses. Taking a wider view, consider that the majority of service jobs in the western world are directly or indirectly linked to digital services. Which is why…

March 31 is World Backup Day.

Your initial reaction may be that raising awareness for backup is relatively insignificant compared to the established list of United Nations observed international days.

And yes, it may not be as significant as World AIDS Day, or as popular as International Women’s Day. But neither is it as unlikely as World Mountain Day, or as frivolous as International Jazz Day (who knew that Jazz could change the world)?

It’s less universal than the International Day of Happiness, but as relevant in today’s economy as the Day of the Seafarer. It’s practical like World Post Day, proactive like World Blood Donor Day, and simpler to address than the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Think of it like the International Day of Friendship. It’s about something that we all need. Something that has got our back. Something we rely on when things go wrong.

Why is backup so important for websites?

Data is the bricks and mortar of a website. It includes the code, content, scripts, applications and files needed to correctly display web pages. For ecommerce websites, these assets include critical inventory data, orders, and sales records. For portals and online services, it includes user data, transactions and archives.

Backup is about looking after these assets. If your backup is not effective, you’re neglecting your assets and over a long enough period you will lose data, and with it the investment that you have made in your website, your business and your customers.

How (not if) you back up should depend on what’s at stake. On whether it’s a business and the livelihoods it supports, or a simple blog and the memories contained within.

Whatever your situation, consider that PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimate 15,000 hard drives around the world fail every day. And, according to web security firm Symantec, the median cost of downtime for a Small or Medium size business is $12,500 per day.

Backup can save your website from lost revenue, lost sales, lost development time and lost, well, everything.

Backup well and often.

I hope that by now you’re thinking about your own backup plan. Before we look at how to back up your server, here are some tips to help your thought process from our Product Manager for Server Backup, Michäel Daudignon.

Make backup a factor in your decisions.

Whether you buy an all-in-one website/ecommerce+hosting solution or host servers in a data center, make backup a factor in your choice. Ask your web hosting or e-commerce platform provider how they back up and safeguard your data. Look at the backup options offered by your hosting provider, and how effectively they integrate with your service.

Back up strategically.

There are various ways to back up your data (see below) at various costs. Perhaps your website code changes infrequently, but your user or product database is updated several times per day. You can mix and match your methods for different types of data in order to be more effective. Use this framework for addressing the types of data.

Local backups don’t eliminate all risks.

Backups stored on the same server as the live data are still subject to some of the same risks as the live data. While the backup can be restored following user error or corruption, if the server hard drive were to fail, both the original and backed up data would be irretrievable.

Out-of-date backup can be as bad as no backup.

Some data may be updated extremely frequently and require continuous data protection. This is typically user data, product data, sales data and other data that updates independently. This data needs to be backed up frequently, if not continuously.

But old backups may also be useful.

Multiple backup points can be useful in instances where problems go undetected for a period of time. If your data is corrupted or infected, then backed up in it’s corrupted form, the backup cannot solve the problem. Multiple backup points let you revert to a clean version.

Consider bandwidth and storage overheads.

If you use a backup program to maintain automatic backups, look for features that let you manage your storage and bandwidth overhead. Features like file exclusion and delta-only backup stop non-critical and unchanged files from being backed up and copied from server to server, saving you money.

Types of backup

For website or ecommerce platforms, the simple (and often only) way to backup data yourself is to export the data for archiving. This is a manual, limited, and far-from-continuous method, but useful as part of an overall backup strategy. The platform may have more continuous safeguards in place to protect your data against server failure or corruption, but you would need to make certain of this by asking them. Popular website platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Etsy offer the ability to export data (follow the links to find out how).

Wordpress, the world’s most popular website and blog platform, has a long list of plugins to assist with backup. These include options with scheduled backups that export data via ftp or to a specified email.

For server users, the popular control panels cPanel and Parallels offer whole or partial backups that can be stored locally or backed up to a separate server via ftp. Considerations for local versus separate (redundant) backups include the local storage space, bandwidth and the cost of a separate location for your backup. But redundant backup is the only way to guard against hardware failure.

Hosting providers like iWeb offer comprehensive backup services with features that allow automated backup to cloud storage or even a separate dedicated server. iWeb offers an all-in-one solution of backup storage and R1Soft Server Backup Manager. We chose to partner with R1Soft because of the range of features offered by the service, notably continuous data protection, delta-only backup and file exclusion.

Larger operations with several servers and websites may choose to employ a larger-capacity dedicated server to house backups, perhaps in a distinct geographic location as part of a disaster recovery / business continuity plan.

Who’s got your back(up)?

Whatever the nature of your website, think about how you would react if your data becomes corrupted, deleted or irretrievable, and take precautions to ensure that you don’t lose data that’s precious to you.

Take the pledge on worldbackupday.com.

This page is not officially supported or endorsed by World Backup Day.

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