Managing and maintaining a website can be hard work. With so many things like design, functionality, and hosting, security is an aspect that often gets sidelined. But, this can be quite an expensive oversight.
Hackers, malware, system failures, or even a human error – any of these could take your site down. Backups are the safety net your website needs – an insurance policy for your site, if you will.
In this article, we talk about all things backups – what they are, why you need them, the pros and cons of backing up a WordPress site, and more. So, let’s get started.
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What is a Website Backup and Why Do You Need it?
In simple language, a website backup is like keeping a duplicate copy of all your website data. Why do you need to do it?
Simply because it ensures that in the event of any data loss on your website, you can restore the lost data to your website from the available backups, data losses on any website can happen due to many reasons, including the following:
- By accident or any human error
- Through a website hack or malware infection
- Website crash or failure due to improper upgrade or a faulty website component
- Database failure or web hosting failure
Apart from preventing data losses on your website, there are several reasons why any business or professional website needs regular backups. Here’s what can happen in the event of a website crash:
- The negative impacts of prolonged website downtime, including reduced customer engagement, incoming traffic, and loss of customer loyalty.
- The reduction in SEO ranking for your website caused by fall in incoming traffic and Google’s importance for a highly functional website.
- Loss of business revenue and customer trust due to the negative perceptions that online users will have about your overall business.
- You could be blacklisted by Google caused by a lower website ranking on its search engine results.
And last but not least, regeneration of all your valuable website data from scratch can be a very frustrating experience.
Before you start implementing a complete backup strategy for your valuable website, let’s look at some common pros and cons of website backups.
Pros of Using Website Backups
Let’s start with the pros or advantages of maintaining your website backups:
Protect your website from human errors
Backups can protect your website from any human error, somewhat like the “Undo” functionality we’re familiar with. With an available data backup of your website, you don’t have to worry about making any incorrect changes to your data. Even if an error occurs, you can quickly revert to the previously stored version of your website data from the backup.
Rollback to a previous WordPress or plugin/theme version
As a WordPress user, you need to continually update your core WordPress version to the latest available version to enjoy the benefits of its latest features or enhancements. Even the various plugins/themes installed on your WordPress website need to be updated to their latest version.
However, improper updates can break your website. To prevent any such calamity, you can take a backup of your entire website data (including core files and plugins/themes) before applying the latest update. Should an incompatibility-related occur, you can revert or roll back to the previous version from your backup data, thus avoiding any website downtime.
Fix any hacks temporarily
A successful hack or online threat can seriously damage your entire website. Before fixing the hack and analyzing its causes, you need to restore your compromised website to its normal state. To achieve this, you need to have data backups (available in the first place) to be safely restored to your live website.
Prevent any web host-related problems
You may be depending on your WordPress web host to provide you with all the necessary backup services. However, what if any flooding or natural calamity impacts your web host provider? This can seriously compromise your website hosted on their servers.
Having an independent backup plan means that you are no longer completely dependent on your web host and can restore website data yourself in the event of any calamity. In any case, you should be very careful when choosing a web host.
Test your changes/updates on a staging website
Want to implement some website changes or enhancements without impacting your live and running website? As many website backup tools provide a staging environment that is a clone (or duplicate) of your live site, that’s possible. You can use the staging environment to try out all your updates without impacting your live website. Once you are satisfied with the results, you can choose to merge these changes with the live website.
These are some of the common pros (or advantages) of using backup services. Next, let’s look at some common disadvantages of website backups and how to overcome them.
Cons of Using Website Backups
In addition to its many pros, website backups do have their share of cons or limitations. Let’s look at each one of them:
Can be a very complicated and time-consuming process
Taking manual backups of your complete website data can be both time-consuming and complex. It requires you to have the necessary technical knowledge or know-how to execute it smoothly without any issues. Backups can be pretty taxing if your website data goes through daily changes or additions. For example, an E-commerce website that receives customer orders on a daily or even hourly basis.
Our recommended solution: Compared to manual backups, backup plugins are faster to execute and can also be automated, thus reducing human intervention. Use an automated backup plugin that can simplify the backup process to be carried out by even novice users.
Can overload your web server and storage space
Taking regular backups of your website data can overload your web server, particularly those with large volumes of data (for example, around 300GB). This can impact the speed and performance of your web server, particularly when the backup process is being executed.
Additionally, regular backups can utilize your available storage space as the backup data must be stored in some locations. This can be a major problem for large websites with gigabytes or terabytes of website data.
Our recommended solution: Use a WordPress backup plugin like BlogVault. This tool performs all its backups on its dedicated servers, preventing any overloading of your web server. It uses the ‘incremental sync’ technique that is faster and significantly reduces the size of the backups.
With regards to storage, most backup plugins, including BlogVault, use offsite or cloud-based storage locations that do not impact your website’s local storage space.
An additional task for website management
WordPress admin users have a list of things to do when it comes to effective website management. This includes various tasks like updating the WordPress website to the latest versions, managing WordPress users and assigning roles, and updating installed plugins/themes.
Taking website backups regularly can be another additional and time-consuming task that admin users must perform.
Our recommended solution: Scheduled and automated backups can reduce the work of WordPress admin users. These are executed automatically at fixed intervals without the intervention of any human user.
A comprehensive WordPress backup solution can be expensive. Firstly, due to the cost of the backup service and secondly, due to the cost of the additional backup storage devices required to store all your backup versions.
Our recommended solution: If you are a small website/online business, use a free backup plugin like UpDraftPlus. It offers regular backups and offsite storage, and other features in its paid plans.
Despite all these cons (or disadvantages), backups must be an integral part of WordPress and non-WordPress websites. Regular backups can help you avoid the common pitfalls of a website crash or loss of valuable data and is a website security feature that you cannot afford to ignore.
We have seen how these perceived disadvantages can be overcome by using an effective backup strategy. WordPress backup tools are easy to use and can overcome most of the limitations of deploying website backups.
In summary, we strongly recommend that as a website owner, you should have an effective backup strategy to safeguard your website and its data. If you’re looking to start backing up your site, automated tools like BlogVault are a great place to start.