Why you should back up your site

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in Blog, Web tips | No Comments

Or how to avoid the white screen of doom!

As with the files on your computer it pays to back up your website. It’s a no brainer really, but I’m always amazed at how many people don’t back up, at all.

It’s quite a sobering feeling when a whole site is replaced by incomprehensible rantings thanks to a random attack by hackers, or when a new plug in causes the site to be replaced by a white screen, trust me, I’ve been there. With a back up this is just a temporary inconvenience , but without one, it can mean that your whole website has gone up in a puff of smoke and you have to start again from scratch. Yikes!

We use WordPress to build sites and it is a great tool. It works really well 99% of the time, but it is not perfect and the list of things that can go wrong include:

  • Your site gets hacked and filled with embarrassing images or text
  • Super spammers create fake accounts for your site and fill up you site with garbage comments and links
  • You install or update a plug-in that causes your entire admin section to disappear
  • You decide to edit some code using the dashboard editor and it throws the whole site into chaos

So whose responsibility is it to back up your site? Well, that depends on what you have set up with your hosting company or developer. I recommend choosing a host that performs automatic back ups of the site and/or provides you with detailed instructions on how to do it yourself via a cPanel. The other option is to ask your developer, but usually that will mean taking out an annual maintenance contract with them.

Ultimately though, the responsibility for your site rests with you, so if you are unsure whether your site is being backed up then now’s the time to check! Oh yes, and make sure that any back-up service includes your files and database.

In case you are wondering we don’t recommend WP plug-ins that offer a back up service for your site, as there are some drawbacks with them. One is that they often store the back-up in the same place as your site files, meaning that if the site is corrupted, the back up is too. They can also take up a lot of space on your server, or on your computer if you download them.

So to recap: always back up your site, and if you update the site regularly, make sure the back-ups are also done regularly.

A quick and easy tip to enhance WP security

A good way to lessen the chance of being infiltrated by hackers and spammers is to make sure your log in name is not ‘admin’ (too easy to guess) and to make sure your password is long (I tend to go for phrases) as that makes it much more difficult for them to be guessed by human or robot. And if you are going to change your log in name from admin to something else make sure you reattribute posts etc assigned to ‘admin’ before deleting that account or you may lose them!

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