These catastrophic events happen without warning, and without discretion. If you are not prepared for the worst, your hard work might be lost forever. That is why it is of the utmost importance that you keep regular backups of your data. Do not worry, there are a variety of backup options to pick and choose from.
Depending on the type of site that you run, you will need to choose a backup option that fits your needs. If you run a forum, news site, or any other site with current information you will want a daily backup, at the very least.
However, if you operate a simple personal page, that has not changed in over a year, keeping a backup of your most recent changes will suffice. A good rule of thumb for the casual webmaster is to do a complete backup every week or so.
The simplest way to backup your data is to download every file that exists on your account. This can be done with a simple FTP program by copying your main folder to your local hard drive.
A good backup practice is to create a "Web Backup" folder on your computer, with a sub-folder that states the date and time the backup was created. This way, if your host removes your account, or you somehow lose some or all of your files, you can choose a new host and upload your web site in its entirity. The downside to this backup option is the heavy usage of your monthly bandwidth, as you must download all your data each time you do a backup.
Note: downloading the main folder will not download the database on your server, you will have to ask your provider on the specifics about database backups
Web hosts may or may not offer an automated backup solution. For those that do they usually follow one of the following backups plans, with higher costs associated with more frequent backups:
- every other day
- monthly backups
As we stated before, depending on what type of web site you run, choose the best backup schedule for your needs.
Incremental vs Full Backups
There are two classifcations of backups: incremental and full.
- Incremental Backup- The backups controller compares the existing backup to the data that you wish to backup. If it is an exact match between the two, then no additional files will be backed up. However, if you have added or edited any file, these files will be updated in the backup, thus the incremental name.
- Full Backup - All files are written to the backup, even if they already exist in the most current backup.