Recently, we started to get a lot of questions and support requests from our clients that could have been altogether avoided if the website owner had an adequate website backup solution in place. In this post, we will discuss the three most likely scenarios when having a properly backed up version of the website would allow to quickly bring your website back to normal.
Scenario 1 – Routine Software Updates.
Most modern CMSs (Content Management Systems) roll out regular updates. This is a good thing as the updates provide new features, improve existing ones, fix bugs and remove vulnerabilities. Depending on the customizations done on a particular website these updates may or may not result in issues that affect the performance and/or look and feel of your website, break certain functionality, etc. For most basic sites that do not have heavy customizations these updates go unnoticed, but for sites that have been heavily modified to meet the specific customer requirements and/or rely on use of third party plugins and extension compatibility issues are possible. Yet, these update are done for a reason and simply not doing them may create its own set of problems down the road. While having a proper backup will not eliminate the need for regular updates or provide a permanent solution, it will allow to quickly recover the website to the last known working configuration without disrupting your business and then figure out the best course of action.
Scenario 2 – Code Changes Made by Users.
Sometimes users can make changes that inadvertently made a modification in the code that broke some functionality. Most contemporary CMSs are designed to be user-friendly, but yet strive to provide rich functionality and customization tools. It is very hard to find the right balance between the ease of use and “customizability”. Sometimes even experienced users make mistakes that require professional help to get fixed. Having a backup in place can quickly fix issues like these. Knowing that you have a backup that will let you easily fix your user errors could actually encourage you to get more familiar with your website’s capabilities and “experiment” without the fear of irreparably damaging your website!
Scenario 3 – The Site Gets Hacked.
This happens more often than most people would think. Most of the time it is not a result of someone specifically targeting your website, but rather automated bots scouring the web and probing the sites for known vulnerabilities. The easiest way to fix the hacked website is to restore it from the “good” backup copy. You would still need to understand and fix the root cause (i.e. remove the vulnerability that originally caused it).
The three scenarios reviewed above are by no means the only scenarios where you benefit from having an adequate backup strategy in place, but we believe they are the ones that are more likely to happen to an average user than, say, your hosting provider going out of business overnight without any warning and chance to save the copy of your website.
Bottom line is that whatever scenario(s) is more applicable to you it is your responsibility to understand your requirements and have a proper strategy in place.
You can think of your website backup service (or efforts, if you choose a DIY approach) as insurance – an inexpensive way to ensure that you always have the latest functional version of the website no matter what happens. If you own or manage a website and don’t know whether you have a backup solution in place or if you have it but not sure how it works and whether it actually protects you, we highly recommend you discuss your options with your webmaster.