We put a lot of trust into our hosting companies when it comes to the backup and storage of our data. Rightfully so, as any hosting company worth their salt will have methods in place to ensure the protection and integrity of their customer’s information. However, that doesn’t mean that something couldn’t go wrong at some point, such as what happened to Google and 150,000 active Gmail Accounts a few months ago.
Backing up your own data is your responsibility and is absolutely critical to prevent a catastrophe from happening in the future. Benjamin Franklin’s famous axiom certainly holds true in our age of information; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Backing up to your Local Machine
Backing up your website to your local computer is actually a very simple process. This is typically done by making an FTP connection to the server hosting your website files. Once you have done that, all you need to do is download the files to your hard drive. If you need to backup a database such as MySQL, this is typically done through your hosting provider’s online control panel. Downloading to your local computer is a very cost-effective way to backup your data but it does not avert all risk. Hard drives can fail for a number of reasons and a failure could wipe the precious data that you thought was safe. Natural disasters are another very important factor to consider when keeping your backup at home and they merit a look into…
Backing up to an Offsite Storage Location
This can really be done in two ways, by you or by a third party. If you have a safety deposit box it is a good idea to back everything up to a USB thumb drive and store it there. An offsite computer will also do the trick but does not offer the level of security that a safety deposit box does. Another means of offsite backup is to use a third party storage service to hold all of your data for you. This usually comes at a small monthly cost, but it is a worthy investment to add another layer of protection over your information.
Making backups of your data is a habit that you absolutely must get into. I have seen friends, family, and clients get burned in the past for not having a backup when something unexpectedly went wrong. There is no reason for this, as it is completely preventable by taking a few minutes of your time to prevent what could be days or even months of work in the event of disaster.