Backups, how important are they and how to do them correctly
Website backups are as important as the website, e-commerce site or app itself. Find out why, what to look out for and what to ask when you are looking for a company to build and host a website or app for your company!
Without a proper backup of your site you are a sitting duck. Just think about all the hard work and money that you have spent to create your business website which has hundreds or thousands of visitors a day. Think about all your clients that buy products or use the information on your site.
Now imagine that your site gets hacked, the server goes down or has a major problem that breaks your site. All your clients on your back asking when the site will be back online and all the product orders you miss. Then realize that there is no backup and you are going to have to start from scratch again to build a new site.
With the news of the ‘Sunburst’ hack (read about it here) impacting so many companies which include governments, financial companies, and hosting companies like GoDaddy and Managed.com, how do you know that your site is secure and safe?
A true story
Many companies use software from a company called 'SolarWinds', this software was compromised, and hackers used this to encrypt All files on all servers of the company and held them to ransom. All sites hosted on the hosting companies were not accessible and all went down, including ALL backups so there was no way for anyone to recover, all sites were lost forever!!
This could happen to any company at any time, it does not matter how big or small the company is! Many small to medium internet companies were affected by this hack and because they DID NOT have a robust backup plan, they lost all their client’s sites without an option to restore them.
Another: All Live servers hosting thousands of websites, web shops and backup servers that host all the backups of these sites in the same datacenter catches fire. Everything gets lost, no websites anymore, no backups any more!
True story, last year in France a datacenter caught on fire and everything was lost.
So what should you be asking when looking for a company to build you website?
What should you be asking the Internet company that you are looking at to build your website, webshop or web app? Below is a checklist of questions to ask to make sure that the company that builds websites, e-commerce sites or web apps are making sure that you will not run into big problems in the future:
Do they host themselves or use a third party hosting company?
If they are using companies like MijnDomein's Website Maker or GoDaddy's Website Builder how do they create backups of the site and where do they store these backups? Usually the likes of MijnDomein and GoDaddy will store backups only for themselves and not the end user, further more, they usually store the backups on the same servers as the website. Not good!
If the company hosts sites themselves, how do they create backups, if any?
Do you create backups of my website?
Sounds like a really stupid question but you will be surprised at how many companies rely on the hosting company to do this for them. In other words, if a server or site gets hacked or the site goes down, they have no way to restore the site!
Are the backups off site?
'Off site' Backups are stored in another location other than the hosting servers. When/if an internet company does their own backup, do they store the backup on another server away from the server provider (company) they use to host your site?
Why is this important, well if the hosting company is attacked the chances are that the backups have also been hacked and compromised as well, then you lose!
When are backups done?
Does the company create a backup daily, weekly monthly etc. Are the backups a Full backup or partial backups? When it comes to backups there will always be loss of data but the longer the period of time between each backup the more data loss!
Are the backups automatically done?
If the backups are done manually? How can you be sure that the backups are done for that period or have they been forgotten? If automatically, how does the company know that the backup was done successfully?
Do they keep and Archive of backups?
It’s important that you have more than 1 backup of your site, so another question to be asked is: does the internet company keep a backup archive? This means that if the most up to date backup is compromised, can they roll back to an old backup that is not compromised!
Ask the company to see the backup process and examples of backups of other clients
For a company to answer your 'backup' questions, it is easy for them to say one thing but do another, ask them to see the process and examples of their backup plan. If you ask this and they say "no" or come up with an excuse then you should look at another company to create your site!
Is it possible to have a backup of your own?
Having a backup in your own hands is one way to know that your site is safe in the future. Ask the internet company to supply you with a backup on a CD or memory stick every 6 months or so. Although you will have data loss of your site, it is better to have something instead of nothing! If you ask this and they say "no" or come up with an excuse then you should look at another company to create your site!
Its always better to spend that little extra knowing that backup of your website are getting down and getting done correctly. The worst thing you can say to yourself is "It'll never happen to me". Take backups seriously and make sure that the company that builds you site takes the responsibility of doing them for you correctly and safely!