By following the guidance in this article, you will mitigate one of the most common causes of extended downtime encountered by online business. Seriously, if you take one piece of IT advice to heart this week, then this should be it. One day you will want to buy me a drink – I promise!
I’ve had a few hobbies in my life that could potentially kill me if done badly. My mom, ever the pessimist, would say, “always put on clean underwear, just in case”. I think it’s because her generation is more worried about turning up in the emergency room with dirty unmentionables than whether they were going to survive any injuries – I digress. The point is, when it hits the fan you want to be prepared.
Most Content Management System packages, forums and e-commerce software packages these days offer their administrators quick and painless built-in upgrade functionality. On one hand, this is great, because keeping your website software up to date and plugging security holes is essential to any good security strategy.
However, from the point of view of a tech support department, I regard the days when vendors release upgrades with a degree of world weary resignation, and this is why. For a myriad different reasons, automated upgrades can and do go pear-shaped, and the results are often a broken website, a support request, and possible delays and loss of business while we work to straighten it out.
Sadly, we still see a rush of such requests every time new major versions of popular packages are released. So, when you come to upgrade anything on your website, and I mean ANYTHING, then the first thought that should enter your mind is to BACKUP YOUR DATA!
By taking a few minutes to create home directory and a database backups you can upgrade with confidence, knowing that any problems can be quickly and easily corrected. It really is simple to do, and only takes a few minutes.
How many backups are too many?
No amount of backups are too many backups! Why would I say this? After all, Krystal backs up your cPanel account, so why would you want to take your own backups? We might have a 100 Terrabyte plus behemoth taking regular snapshots of your websites, but we only retain these backups for a few days.
If your website gets hacked then cleaning it up can be a complex affair. There is also no guarantee once you have restored any files using our automated backups, that the hackers won’t have left covert modifications that may not show up for days or weeks, by which time any clean backups have been rotated out of our systems.
If you earn a living from your website then it makes sense to take your own backup of your files and databases at least once a month and retain them for at least six months. That way, if our backups don’t go back far enough, you still have an extra safety net. Storage these days is less than 50p per Gb, so there is really no excuse for not archiving your backups.
Most websites that are CMS based maintain separation between the CMS software itself and the data/images that drive them. Recovering a CMS driven site (Joomla!, WordPress, Drupal etc) from a hack is usually as simple as replacing the CMS software’s core directories with backups (leaving your uploaded content and configuration files intact). So, as long as you have backups, restoring your site should take no longer than a few minutes.