Backups – you have an offline copy, right?

I like to roll this post out every once in a while, as a timely reminder – do you have offline backups of your website data? A complete backup of your website data, stored offline, not on our servers, that if you needed you could turn to, to restore your website to function?

Some of you might have been affected by last month’s disk failure on the WordPressVPS22 server. Thankfully our own in house backups (that run nightly on most plans) saved the day, and we were able to restore everyone’s data for the most part.

I say thankfully of course, as backup servers can have issues of their own, and we’ve had plenty through the years. There’s nothing worse than a client requesting their backup data, only to find a configuration error meant their backups were ineffective.

A solid offline backup is an essential part of your website’s long term success, and there are a number of ways to create one. You can use the WordPress Tools-> Export feature to create a very limited one (just your post data, no images) through to our own Snapshot tool that creates a full site backup for download and keeping offline.

As ever, our support team are here should you need us to advise on this critical item.


There are 4 comments on “Backups – you have an offline copy, right?

  1. B May 26, 2021

    Although I agree in principle, you’re arguing: We should protect ourselves against your incompetence. Which, although I agree with, I’m left questioning—shouldn’t you up your game (that’s what I want to pay you for)?

    • Stuart Melling May 26, 2021

      I wouldn’t say incompetence per se, simply that, with more than twenty years under our belts we know one thing for sure – hardware and software goes wrong. When it does it’s usually in a new and interesting way we’ve never seen before. Every time we encounter a novel error we review our processes and systems and improve – to ensure that won’t repeat again. Indeed, our backup systems are very robust; we have more than two decades refinement in the operation and development of them. They served perfectly in the case of the restoration of the WordPress22 server.

      Another way to look at it is the old adage, don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Always have an offline copy of your data you can turn to.

      • Simon Jackson May 27, 2021

        Interesting approach. I agree that you can’t trust anyone all the time but as someone running a small business I wonder what I can trust from my provider now?

        Surely in today’s world your backup service is robust, regularly tested for recovery, has a consistent configuration, is spread across n+1 infrastructures in different regional DC’s, and isn’t some cheap tape drive and single operator?

        I expect as part of my package to be protected, especially as it’s a key selling point of the package.

        I don’t have any plan or resource to take my own offline backups – how often, what of, how to manage, where to store, how to test, how to restore safely…That’s why I pay you.

        I am concerned that you don’t have full confidence nor produce formal guidance on what we should be doing to protect ourselves from your failure?


        • Stuart Melling May 27, 2021

          Definitely understand your concerns Simon. We take as many precautions as we reasonably can and are very confident in our own backups; the servers take nightly backups on most account types and store a rotating collection of thirty backup files that we can help users with. We use RAID Z2 on the servers to mitigate disk failure and the software is developed in house over two decades of iteration. We recovered everyone from the recent WP22 failure without issue. That said, there is no software/hardware on the planet that is 100% foolproof, 100% of the time.

          What if there’s a fire in the datacenter (as happened recently in a big provider elsewhere) for example? What if a light aircraft hits? What if a software configuration error means that blank data is written to the backup server? There a number of extreme edge cases that might strike, that is mainly what we’re talking about. If you don’t have an offline copy of your most critical data, there’s always a very small risk.

          We currently only operate out of one datacenter, we do not backup data offsite. We had looked at this option but the costs involved would be fairly high, for a facility that many companies offer quite cheaply. Eg Vaultpress is about $3/month for unlimited offsite WP backups, that’s a cost much lower than we can achieve. With that in mind we thought it was better to let clients maintain their own offsite backup policies. If that’s something you’d like to simply procure from 34SP though – do let me know!