Should I be taking backups of my hosting account? If so, how often?

It is recommended that you make your own backups of your website, regardless of whether your web host makes backups as well.  The more backups of your website, the better.

Why make your own backups?

Web hosts may or may not make backups of your website (depending on your hosting plan). When they do, they do not guarantee their backups, and their backups may or may not contain the data you need, for various reasons.

Web hosts that make regular backups usually make backups based on a schedule, and that schedule may not coincide with the updates you make on your website.  For example, they may backup your website every Wednesday, but if you update your site on Thursday, and if you need to restore your site on Friday, you just lost everything you did on Thursday since they only have a backup from Wednesday.

Or what if you crashed your site on Wednesday evening while updating it, and they run the backup on Wednesday night.  Guess what?  The backup they just ran has a copy of your broken website, not the website that was working on Tuesday.  The good copy of your website is gone.

Also, backups that you make are usually available immediately, but backups from your web host may take time to restore.  Your web host may also charge you a fee to use their backup copy.

If you make your own backups, you have more control over what is backed up, and how often.  You can make sure that the data you need is handy when you need it.

When you should make backups?

It is recommended that you make backups:

  1. Before you make any major updates to your website.  If something goes wrong, you can go back to a previous working version.
  2. After you make any major updates to your website.  After all that hard work, you want to save it so you don't have to do it again if something happens later.
  3. At regular intervals, especially if your website changes frequently, due to user comments, or new content.  How often depends on how much information are you willing to lose.  A day?  A week?  A month of data?

How often you backup your website is up to you, but weight your decision on the cost of your lost website and data, not just in time and money, but also emotionally. 

The consequences of not having a recent backup can be catastrophic.  It costs time and money and emotional energy to rebuild the website, not to mention the lost of revenue from the website, if it is a revenue generating website.

Protect your investment, and make backups frequently.  One day you will be glad you did.

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