Why You Should Not Solely Rely On Your Web Host for Backups

Are you solely relying on your web hosting provider to back up your WordPress website?  You’re not alone, many web hosting companies, even the most respected in the industry list backups in their long list of services. Why wouldn’t you sleep like a baby at night knowing they have your back if anything happens. However, it is a dangerous assumption to assume they have your back, especially if you are using a budget hosting solution.

The bottom line is not all backups are created equal and your website is simply too important of an investment to take chances with. It may be time to review your website backup strategies and develop a contingency plan. Instead of assuming your web hosting provider has your WordPress website backed up let’s dive into a few questions you should be asking them.

1. How often do backups occur?

You need to know how often backups run and when. We’ve come across many hosting companies that only back up your site once a week or less. This is the case with one popular hosting company, HostGator, and you may be thinking. . . “Great, I’m all good”. Let’s pause and dive into what once a week means in reality.

HostGator’s automatic backup service runs once a week on a random day, and each run overwrites any previous backups. Only one week of backups are kept at a time.  – HostGator’s Backup Policy

Think of how many things change on your site in a week. Do you update content frequently, take e-commerce orders, donations, or process any type of customer request? What impact would it have on your business or organization if you lost a week’s worth of data?

Taking this scenario a step further, you should ask yourself, is that single backup from a week ago enough? Which leads to our next question you should be asking your web hosting provider.

2. How long and how many backups are stored?

Are multiple backups being kept or does the latest backup overwrite the previous one? It is common for businesses to have a need to revert back to a version of their website several months in the past. In the previous quote from HostGator, they say they run one backup a week and keep one week of backups. This means at any given time you have access to only one backup.

What happens if there was a hack or malware incident on your site that goes undetected for a few months?  It happens more than you think.

The Ponemon 2017 Cost of a Data Breach Study found that US companies took an average of 206 days to detect a data breach.

3. Where are the backup files stored?

If your website and backup files are stored on the same server and the server suffers a fatal error. . . do we really need to explain why this is bad? Essentially no server, no backup. Ouch! After the last two points you have started to formulate a new backup contingency plan, right? Let’s add file storage to your checklist. Your backup contingency plan should include off-site backups preferably with a different company than your web host. Here at Agate Fire Creative, we are fans of cloud storage options such as Amazon AWS, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Proper off-site backups mean that even if the web host as a company has issues, your backups are safe. It also means if you ever wish to migrate to a new host, you have your own backup to take with you.

Bluehost does not offer redundant or mirrored backups. Bluehost will run courtesy backups at our discretion. . . Bluehost recommends that you store backups off site on your local system. Backups are kept for a maximum of 30 days. Backups older than 30 days will be overwritten with a newer backup, and it is the customer’s responsibility to download a backup before it is overwritten if the customer wishes to keep that copy of their data. Bluehost Account Backup Policy

4. Can I initiate a backup whenever I want/need one?

If you are running WordPress core, theme, or plugin updates (and you should be) or actively making big changes to your website, it’s a good idea to make a backup before you begin. On rare occasions, updating a single plugin or WordPress itself can cause major errors and site downtime. 

Does your backup service allow you to run a backup whenever you need to or do you have to rely on their schedule? If your host creates backups on a set schedule and does not allow you to create manual backups, then you either have to work within their schedule or risk the outcome of changes made without making a backup first.

5. What’s included in the backup?

WordPress websites consist of many components including a database, WordPress core files, theme files, plugin files, along with your media library. E-Commerce, membership, and e-Learning websites may have even more components. Does your backup solution include everything in the media library as well as all plugin and theme files?

While other WordPress backup plugins only backup the WordPress database, BackupBuddy backs up your entire WordPress installation, making sure you have a copy of all your WordPress website files. BackupBuddy WordPress Backup Plugin

What is in the backup that you don’t need? Sometimes, when a host creates a backup, they include server configuration files that are not compatible with a different or new host.  So if you decide that you need or want to move to another host, you can’t use your current host’s back up to make the move.

Don’t Trust Blindly

Know the answers to these questions and understand how you can quickly recover from a disaster. As the website owner, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure your website files and database are properly backed up. After all, it’s you who will endure the downtime and bear the business loss.

Implement A Reliable Backup Plan Now!

Don’t wait for a disaster to strike only to learn you have inadequate backups or worse no backups at all! You can use backup plugins such as BackupBuddy, UpdraftPlus, or BackWPup. Or, you can let WordPress maintenance experts like us handle your backups as well as your security and updates. Contact us to figure out which backup system will be right for your site.

Loma Nelson

Loma channels her experience and creative energy into all things WordPress. As a designer, she brings a strong sense of aesthetics and user experience to her creations. When not immersed in client projects, Loma can be found paddling the Wisconsin lakes and rivers in her sunburst orange kayak with her husband and Golden Retriever. Oh, and she was born a YOOPER, eh!

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