You’ve spent hours and hours on your site, you made it beautiful, and perfect, and it looks amazing! You love it! Then you go to show it to your friends and it’s all gone. What happened?
Data loss is an inevitability. It happens to everyone, and always at the worst possible time. Just like having that word document you need for your final term paper bomb out on you as you hit save, the files on your web server are files, like anything else, and they too can become corrupt. While we here at DreamHost put in a lot of time and effort to make your servers the best possible place for your files, nothing’s 100%, not even our backups, which is why you should be making regular backups of your data too.
“Now hold on!” I can hear you say. “You guys make server backups of course, and you can just get my files from there!”
Yes, we do and we can. And if I were to tell you that 99.99% of the time, those backups work, you’d be delighted. That’s a pretty awesome number. But then again, maybe you’re like my dad, a risk analyst, and you think that if 700,000 people hosted at DreamHost, that means 7000 of them would have a failed backup. What happens if you turn out to be in that 7000?
No one wants to believe that they’re going to be that 0.01%, and that’s just human nature. Most of us don’t even backup our computers regularly because it’s hard. When Time Capsule came out for Macintosh, I ran and got my parents one, because that meant fewer 2am phone calls when a legal brief or new proof went missing. They understood how to use Time Machine, once I set it up for them, and they knew how to go in and find files. It was a blessing to everyone.
What does all this have to do with your website?
Like I said before, your website is just a bunch of files, same as the ones on your computer. And like any files, they can go bad without warning. Having your very own backup, as a backup to our backup, means you’ve make sure you’re not going to be that 0.01% of people who, when everything goes cataclysmic, when they have a perfect storm of wrong, are left out in the cold. You will be able to quickly, safely, and easily restore your site to the glory days!
The first thing you have to know about your site is what makes the site a site. All sites consist of files, and many (like WordPress, or any of our one-click installs) have a database as well, where your content is stored. When you backup your site, you want to make sure you have a copy of all of those files and the database.
We do our best to keep the wiki up to date with good Backup Directions, and everyone should find the most comfortable way to perform their own backups. If you’re using a web app like WordPress or Drupal, there are a lot of extensions and plugins that perform automatic backups for you on a scheduled basis. If you’re willing to jump into scripting, there are some tools that can do the same thing, but for everything on your domain and not just one app or another. Just one Google search for “How do I backup my website?” and you will find thousands of people who directions, advice, and tools to make it easier for you.
And at the end of the day, you will have a backup you can rely on, no matter what.