Backups are one of the most important pieces of any website maintenance plan. They can save your skin when something goes wrong, whether that something is a self-inflicted error or a server crash. But what kind of backup system should you have for your WordPress site? Can you rely on your host? What about plugins? And don’t forget Git. Let’s dive into the options.
For developers, the first line of defense for backups is Git. Git is a code versioning system that keeps copies of site files and their various versions throughout the development process. It allows developers to try various methods while still being able to roll back changes to a previous version. Break something? No worries, just revert the changes to the previous commit. While it’s more nuanced than that, you get the general idea.
The problem with Git backups is they only back up the code of a website, not the database. So while your site itself is backed up on Git (whether you use GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, etc…), your content is still unprotected. If you choose to go the Git route for backups, you’ll need a separate system for your content. Google Docs and Microsoft Word are both good options.
A good host, especially in the managed WordPress space, will have a backup system in place for your account. Some hosts back up just your database so you don’t lose your content, others back up your files so you don’t lose your site, and others do both. When considering hosting, you’ll want to make sure your host offers both.
How your host stores those backups also matters. As we’ll discuss later with plugins, you want your host to store their backups on a separate server. That may seem odd but consider a server hack. If your server is unavailable, and your site needs to be restored, you’re in for a world of hurt because your backups won’t be available. By separating the backups from the server, you can restore your site on another server with ease.
The final choice for a WordPress backup solution is to use a plugin for your site. There are a ton of free and paid options for backup plugins, and they all do things a little bit differently. What you’ll want to pay attention to is where the backups are stored because it makes all the difference.
The key is to find a backup solution that stores your data off-site. This way if your site is compromised, you’ll still have access to your site data. Far too often I’ve heard horror stories where people backed up their data on their site, but when the site was hacked they lost access to their backups as well. You never want to be in that position.
Hopefully by now you’ve picked up on the core theme: back up your information away from your website. It keeps your information safe and ensures you have access to it even if your site goes down. Whether you rely on your host or use a plugin, off-site backups will keep you in good shape should the worst happen.