Back up your site with website hosting: why, when and how
Many website hosting companies include website backups as part of their features package. You many notice this benefit - and it is a benefit! - as you read web hosting reviews. But while your website hosting provider may do courtesy backups for free, or specific backups for a small additional fee, it's important you complete your own backups as well.
You probably know the answer to this question, but it bears repeating: you just never know. Your website hosting provider could experience a server crash or a technical difficulty that could wipe out information temporarily or permanently. This is rare, but it does happen. (When you read web hosting reviews, do make note of the information provided about the host's data center and power sources. You want to see redundant power and backup generators. Read our article What's in your data center? for more.)
Of course, it's not just the website hosting service that can mess up. Your own computer may be stolen, crash or suffer damage. No matter how good your website hosting provider, hackers may be able to break in and wreak havoc on your site. If you don't have your precious content saved elsewhere, you may lose huge amounts of data and work.
When to back up
Web hosting reviews may let you know your website hosting provider will do regular backups of your site content, but make sure you know the details. Is this a scheduled event? Are the backups done daily, weekly, monthly or simply whenever the company makes time?
If you've got a busy or frequently changing site, it's a good idea to do complete backups every day. Perhaps you could schedule the backup to run at night or when your site is less busy - whenever you're not working on it.
No doubt, we all have the best intentions when it comes to backing up a site. But those intentions often fall by the wayside when business gets busy. The key is to make backups a routine! If your site is scheduled to back up every day, it's more likely to actually happen.
How to back up
Check web hosting reviews and see if your website hosting service offers advice or backing up support. Check your website hosting company's knowledgebase and support centre as well (if the knowledgebase is searchable, search for "backup" and "back up"). You'll find that many basic features, especially top-quality site builders, offer a backup feature. Using these, you can perform a backup copy of all your data files and then download this onto your computer. Web hosting reviews should give you some extra insight into the site builders available through your chosen host.
cPanel hosting will also have features that allow you to back up MySQL databases. You may also use an FTP client to download copies of all your files from the host server. This is also important in case you ever decide to switch website hosting companies.
You can back up the data on your computer or, better, on an external hard drive, DVD or tape. There are also backup services you may subscribe to, if you're looking for more options.
As always, start with web hosting reviews and see what your website hosting service offers. You might be surprised! Most top website hosting providers do their best to ensure your data is always secure.
Check out our Top 10 Overall Website Hosting companies to start!