The Crucial Task Often Forgotten by New Webmasters (Until It's Too Late)

How to Back Up Your Website

The Crucial Task Often Forgotten by New Webmasters (Until It's Too Late)

by Christopher Heng,

I recently received an email from a webmaster telling me that he could no longer access his website, nor could he log in to his web hosting account to investigate. "I have many articles that I wrote over the years on that website," he said. "Now they are gone. What can I do?"

But this article isn't about dealing with web hosts that close abruptly, leaving the sites hosted there high and dry. Nor is it even about reclaiming a website from a bad web designer or web host that is holding it hostage. You can read about those things from the links in the previous sentence.

It is about something that all webmasters should be doing, but too many fail to do, leading to the above situation becoming catastrophic when it could be merely heart-attack-causing and lifespan-shortening.

Backing Up a Website

Yes, I'm talking about the importance of backing up your website. And with that one sentence, I'm sure that some of you have just rolled your eyes and are within a hair's breadth of clicking away.

It is the thing that many people know they have to do, and have put it in their mental to-do list to be done tomorrow, but because they are not sure how to do it, and need time to figure it out, tomorrow never comes. Besides, they say, the web host also has its own backup. Wasn't it mentioned in the advertisement?

It's More Critical for Certain Categories of Webmasters

Of course if you have designed your website using a standalone web editor like Expression Web, BlueGriffon or Dreamweaver, you automatically have a backup on your computer. This is because you created the site on your own machine, and only transferred a copy of it to your web host when you were done. So you effectively have 2 copies: one on the Internet (your website proper) and the one on your computer. If your current web host disappears, you can simply find a new one, point your domain there, upload a copy of the site to the new location, and you're back in business.

In other words, if the previous paragraph describes your situation, this article isn't targeted at you. It is for webmasters who either have blogs, Content Management Systems (CMS), or have used their web host's online web designer/editor or templates. For those webmasters, their sites are created online, so if they don't take any specific steps to make a backup, the content only exists on their web host's computer.

How to Back Up Your Website

The back up process differs depending on how your site is designed.

And They Seemed Like Such Nice People

I know that this article is not the solution to the specific crisis posed by my visitor. It was not intended to be. It is meant to preempt such a situation occurring in the first place. No one wants this kind of problem, where your web host, on whom you rely for your online business and livelihood, suddenly disappears, taking your site with it. Or their hard disk containing your website crashes and their backups are found to be corrupted. Or their system is hacked, or infected by ransomware.

Backups are one of those things that feels like a colossal waste of time as you're doing it. But if and when disaster rears its ugly head, you will be really glad to have them on hand.

Copyright © 2017-2018 Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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