12 Jun The Importance of Backups
It’s so important to have backup systems in place to protect your digital assets. Losing all of your business documents or your website can be heartbreaking; and in some cases it could even mean the end of your home business.
For a home business operator, it’s often the case that your home computer will be for both work and personal use. My own computer is also home to all my photos, music collection and personal documents, so it’s not just my business files at stake.
But don’t worry, there’s some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re protected.
Tips for an effective backup system
Always hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The first step is writing up a brief backup plan, as this will help you design a backup system that suits your circumstances.
To help get you started, below are two example backup plans based on my own backup systems.
Example website backup plan
Digital assets to backup:
- HomeBusiness.com.au website
- BackupBuddy – a backup solution for WordPress sites.
- Daily database backup (a schedule was setup in BackupBuddy and now this runs automatically each day).
- Weekly full site backup (a schedule was setup in BackupBuddy and now this runs automatically each week).
- Online: hosting account servers.
- Home computer (backup archives are downloaded and saved on my computer).
- External (portable) hard drive.
- Hosting service provider backup archives – unsure of storage type. My hosting service provider reports that they also run periodic backups of my hosted files, provided my account remains below the specified maximum total storage size.
- Hosting servers located in my hosting provider’s facility in Sydney.
- Home office computer.
- External hard drive located off-site (part of computer backup plan detailed below).
Example computer backup plan
Digital assets to backup:
- Desktop computer.
- Monthly for full computer backup.
- Daily for business documents that I’m currently working on.
- External (portable) hard drive for full computer backup.
- Online ‘cloud storage’ (Google Drive) for daily active documents backup.
- Full backup: stored off-site (at a friends house).
- Daily active documents backup: online (Google Drive).
Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket
One of the critical parts of an effective backup system is ensuring that there’s always a backup stored off-site. It’s no good having your backup hard drive on the bookshelf, if your home office is burgled and they happen to take both the computer and the backup drive. So when backing up your computer, make sure you either backup the files to online ‘cloud storage’, or that your physical backup (e.g. external hard drive) is stored at a different premises, such as the home of a family member or friend.
Don’t assume you’re protected, make sure you are
Don’t assume that your backups are sound, as sometimes backup processes will fail – resulting in corrupt files or backup archives. It’s sensible to do a ‘dummy run’ to see if you can actually retrieve your files from a backup. It’s not practical to second guess every backup of course, so just check the integrity of your backups periodically.
When possible, don’t place all of your faith in others to ensure that your website is backed up. For example, your hosting service provider may backup your hosted files periodically (e.g. website and email accounts); however you have no control over their processes and will never really know if the backups are sound until disaster strikes – which would be a terrible time to find out that they hadn’t actually been running backups or that the backups are corrupted. So if your hosting provider is running backups – terrific, that’s a nice safety net to have, but you shouldn’t count on it exclusively.
Recommended backup software
The software solutions listed below are what I personally use to safeguard my files and websites. Both solutions have served me very well for many years and so I can happily recommend them.
Acronis True Image is a desktop software program that offers both selective file backup and full disk-image backup.
I use the full disk-image option to backup my entire computer onto an external drive. This involves backing up three hard drives totalling a few terabytes of data, so it takes several hours. I kick-off the backup process in the evening and when I get up the next morning it’s done. You can also password protect and encrypt your backup archive, which is a nice security feature.
Acronis True Image allows you to literally clone your computer, and then if misfortune strikes – you can restore it exactly as it was at the time you backed it up.
Website backups – for WordPress sites
BackupBuddy is a backup solution for WordPress sites.
This WordPress plugin is a breeze to install and setup. You can run backups manually at any time, or you can setup schedules to run automatically. Backups can include the database or the whole site. The whole site backups are also terrific for migrating your website to new servers or hosting accounts, or cloning an existing site as the basis for another. BackupBuddy includes a migration tool to help make migrations a super simple process.
Backups can also be password protected for extra security.
BackupBuddy is quite seriously a must-have plugin for me, I use it on all of my websites.