madguyMy poor mother, bless her heart, called me this morning freaking out about her computer. She was getting the dreaded blue screen of death and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Considering she works from home on her computer it is kind of a big deal. Luckily for her it wasn’t that big of an issue and I was able to get it fixed for her, but it got me thinking about something. How often do people back up their hosting accounts?

My experience working support for several web hosts leads me to believe that not many people do, which is a pretty huge mistake. The least you can do to protect yourself is to have a backup in case of a total catastrophe. It is such a simple thing to do, but most people don’t even think about it. The fact is that there are too many things that can go wrong with a web hosting account.

Hardware Failures

Why not start with what happened to GigeNet yesterday. According to their Twitter feed there was smoke detected in their data center which caused the whole data center to shut down (the power was cut). While this is an extreme case of hardware failure, it does happen. What would happen to your website if a hard drive on the server where you’re hosted failed? Having a backup will ensure you can upload your website to another place quickly so that you can avoid long periods of downtime.

Hackers

Websites get hacked every day. And don’t think that because you’re hosting a personal blog that only a few people visit a day that you’re immune to hackers. Having worked at a few web hosting companies I know all too well that personal blogs (especially WordPress) are the easiest and most frequently hacked websites. Why yours? Because it was easy and the hacker wants to try to get as many websites compromised as possible. Keeping a backup will ensure you can remove all the files that were modified by the hacker.

Mistakes with Updates

I can’t tell you how many times I got a call from a customer saying that they messed up their website after uploading an updated version. 99% of the time when I asked if they had a backup that can be restored they said no. While some hosting companies do offer a backup service you should always take your own, because there are usually stipulations to what the hosts will backup. Some will also charge restoration fees.

Employee Mistakes

Let’s say you put one of your employees in charge of managing your website. He’s going through the website, cleaning up files he thinks are old and no longer necessary for the website (which is important in its own right). Unfortunately for you, he accidentally deletes a file that is integral to your website and its functionality. If you have a backup you can quickly and easily restore the deleted file. If not, you may be up a certain creek without a paddle.

The bottom line is that there is no downside to keeping a backup handy. The best case is that you never have to use it. The worst case is you don’t have one when you absolutely need one. Every cPanel host will have an automated backup tool available to you, which makes it too easy not to take a backup. Do yourself a favor and go backup your hosting account. Right now.

AND DON’T KEEP THE BACKUP FILE STORED ON YOUR HOSTING ACCOUNT! What good is a backup when it’s stored in the same place as your files? If the hard drive fails your backup is as good to you as the rest of your no longer existent website.