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How important are backups?

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Let’s all pause for a minute and reflect on the title of this post. Someone out there is earnestly asking that question right now, and hopefully like me, you’re weeping at the very notion.

As we refreshed our hosting backup page this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about backups again. In fact, there’s never a wrong time to talk about backups.

One thing I’ve learned in nearly seventeen years (ulp!) of working for a hosting company, is that stuff breaks. Not only will something break, it will do so in the most creative, imaginative and thoroughly unanticipated way; this will also happen at the very worst possible time.

Think you’ve already got all your ducks in a row? Think again – your ducks are nothing but a temporary illusion bobbing on a mirage like oasis of water. Take it from me, something IS going to go wrong. And when that happens, you turn to your backups, which you have, right? You do have backups, right? Of course you do.

Per the link to our backup page above, we do take backups on all our plans automatically. Most plans are backed up daily, some like Professional Hosting are backed up weekly. Take a minute to check out the page above, and cross reference with the package you have with us. Your backup needs may be greater than the plan you have.

So everything is great? No. Remember that point about things breaking? Backup servers can fail just like regular servers. So can the systems we use to monitor them. So can the scripts we use to monitor the data being backed up. Heck, your backup could be nothing more than your index file copied over and over and over again – due to some exotic failure way back in the mists of time. When it comes to backups, trust nothing and no one, not even us.

The sheer amount of data we need to backup demands we use an automated process. This means it’s impossible to verify the integrity of the data we’re backing up on a per domain level. As much as we’d love to spend our days testing restored backups, and cooing over pictures of cats in humorous settings – we just don’t have the time. Things are breaking and need fixing remember.

Before you run for the hills screaming in terror, hyperbole aside, most users will find we have accurate backups for them available all the time. But my point is, please don’t take our word for it. Usable backups could be your last option for the smooth continuity of your website or business. You shouldn’t want anyone to assume that responsibility on your behalf, you should want to be in charge of this. Backups are ultimately your responsibility and you need to take every last measure to ensure that if the worst happens, you’re prepared for it.

This is why we also offer our Snapshot tool on most plans. With just one click we will create a snapshot of your whole account. That’s initially stored on your hosting server for restoration as and when you need – but the file can also be zipped up and downloaded over FTP too. All online, 24/7, whenever you need, you can create and download an offline Snapshot. You can even get triply paranoid and store your Snapshot on a non Internet connected device like a USB stick. Perhaps then seal it in a lead box and, wait, maybe I’ve gone too far.

Actually no, no additional paranoid step is too far when it comes to backups. So lets ask the question again, how important backups? Backups are your last line of defense against events that could spell the end for your website or business. Their critical importance cannot be underscored.

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