It’s always important to make sure that your website is being regularly backed up for complete disaster recovery should this be required. You shouldn’t ever assume that it’s being backed up automatically by your website design agency or hosting company. If you are paying just a couple hundred quid a year for your hosting it’s very unlikely that you will have access to backups to restore to a previous date should your website fail. If you run your own 123 hosting account, for example, they do not provide ANY backups at all – it’s totally down to you.

So how do you backup your website?

Firstly you need to know what to actually backup. A website built around an application such as WordPress, OpenCart or Magento will consist of 2 main elements; files and database. It’s worth noting that some websites consist of just files, others can have multiple databases, for example you might have an eCommerce store and a WordPress blog.

The next thing you’ll need is access to your website’s control panel. If you obtained the hosting yourself then these will have been provided to you at the time or if we’re hosting it for you we can provide you with these details (just drop us an email if you don’t have these already). Once you have your details – log in.

Please note that the instructions below are typical – and each set up might be slightly different.

Backing up your files

Once you’re logged in you’ll now have access to the control panel for your website. Look for and click on ‘Backup/Restore’

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You’ll then have a few different options, the one you want is ‘Create Full Backup’

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You’ll be prompted to download a .zip archive of all of the files for your website. Please be aware this can be quite a large file, particularly if your website is an eCommerce site or very image heavy so make sure you have plenty of storage space.

Backing up your database(s)

From the ‘Home’ page of the control panel, look for and click on ‘MySQL Databases’

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You should now have a table listing the database(s) your website uses. Click on the ‘Backup’ button next to each one and save the files

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It’s important to keep these backups in a secure place and ideally have multiple copies kept for several months. Consider uploading them to a secure folder on Dropbox or a similar service.

How regularly should you backup your site?

This really depends on how active your website is. If you’re running a busy eCommerce site then at least every few days at least– it’s not just product data that is being updated but also your orders and customer account information. If your site only gets updated every so often then you should be okay to back it up less frequently.

Why do I have to backup the website – why doesn’t the hosting company do this?

This all depends on the level of service you have agreed with your hosting provider but in many cases your website backups are only made by the hosting company for their own disaster purposes – for example if their hosting service to you failed then they would usually be able to restore the website via their own disaster recovery process.  But if your website is hacked, fails because something has become corrupted, encounters a virus, breaks due to version or plugin upgrades or even is broken as the result of user error (your know when you accidentally deleted your website menu!) then your hosting company may not be able to provide a suitable backup.  If in doubt check with your hosting company and make sure that you understand the risks to your business.