The Importance of Backups

September 29, 2004

Categories: Webmaster

It’s a sad fact of the webhosting industry that hosts go down on a regular basis.

It could be a harddrive failure, other hardware failure, security failure, network failure, general datacenter failure - any number of issues.

Point is, although some hosts get up, others do not.

And no matter how the issues involved are addressed, the simple fact is that you could lose data.

You will almost certainly have static files saved on your own harddrive - you probably had to make sure you had local copies to upload. Do ensure you burn those copies to CD or DVD.

However, the real problem is with dynamic files, not least databases. Forums, directories, shopping cart lists - they are particularly vulnerable to webhosting failures. Because when the host goes down, you can often find that all you have left of your database is your last saved copy.

When was the last time you saved your online databases?

You should absolutely ensure you save them on a regular basis - every few days at least where the database information changes or is added to on a regular basis. For example, such as this news blog.

That way, in the event of a hosting failure, you can at least recover fairly up to date information, and minimise your losses.

What’s that? Your host does regular backups?

Well, that may well be - but what you probably aren’t aware of is that web hosting companies are not making individual backups of your individual files - they are making large backups of the entire hardrive. They are effectively ensuring that they can recover fairly up to date information for the hardrive if it needs to be replaced.

Also, be aware that most hosts do not guarantee backups anyway - and just because your files may be recoverable from the host company’s backup, does not mean to say that your files can be recovered.

Hosting companies may not offer backups of your individual files, even if they have a general backup of the hardrive.

Ultimately, your own backups are your own responsibility. If you don;t learn that now, then you open yourself up to learning the hard way. That’s how many people learned they had to make regular backups. That’s how I learned.

I’ve had servers breakdown on me twice, with difference companies. The first time, I nearly lost everything on it. The second time, I at least had backups to rebuild with.

But the point does need emphasising for general web users:

If you lose your data because you do not have backups, you only have one person to blame. You.

You have been clearly warned.

Link: The Importance of Backups