Hopefully you’re already in the 80% of people who know to keep a computer backup (if not, right now is a good time to start). Too many computer owners have learned the hard way how important it is to create regular backups.

But do you do the same for your website? 

Technology may be capable of amazing things, but it’s still fallible. And no one wants to risk losing all your digital files in a moment.

Think about the hard work you put into creating your website. Wouldn’t losing everything you’ve created be a significant loss? Well, a website is at least as vulnerable to threats as a computer is. 

Investing in regular backups is one important step you can take to protect your website. That way, if something unfortunate does occur, you won’t have to start from scratch. You can simply restore your site from a previous backup.

What Is a Website Backup Service?

A website backup is a copy of all of your website data. What the backup storage encompasses will depend upon your online backup provider. As a general rule of thumb, the more data that’s included in the data backup, the better.

This is especially the case if your website runs on a content management system like WordPress, where you’ll need all of your site’s files, content, media, and databases to get it up and running again.

cms wordpress file manager

How Often Should You Back Up Your Website?

Website backups should also be done on a regular basis, just like computer backups. The best case scenario is either daily or weekly backups, or around as often as you update your website. For example, if you only publish a single blog post per week and that’s the only update you make to your site, then weekly backups will suffice.

Why You Need to Backup Your Site

Backing up your site is the only way to ensure you’re protected from losing all the work you’ve put into it. And losing your website can have big consequences. 

If you have to build a new website from scratch, you lose the time and cost involved in creating an all new site. That’s not a small thing. And if your website had a lot of pages or an active blog, you may be unable to recreate some of the content you worked hard on—a portion of your website could end up being gone for good. 

If you run a business site, then you’re losing revenue for the entire time your site is offline. For an ecommerce business, the losses could be huge, as no one will be able to make purchases at all until you get it back up. For a service provider, a broken website at best makes you look unprofessional, and could also lose you potential clients that can’t find your business while it’s down. 

On top of the consequences in time and money, you have to deal with all the stress, frustration, and embarrassment of solving an avoidable emergency. The emotional cost of losing your website without a backup may be harder to measure, but shouldn’t be discounted.

How Website Backup Services Work

Website backup services ensure backing up your website requires very little work, many of them by making the process automatic. 

Websites have a lot of moving parts and a variety of files required just for your website to load the right way. Forget to backup a crucial file and your website might not load properly. If you’ve ever played around with the code of your own website, then you’re probably familiar with how changing a single line of code can bring your website offline. Yeah, not fun.

When you use an online backup service, you don’t have to worry about individually backing up each website element and file yourself. The service does it automatically in the background. This helps to ensure that every single file is included in the backup, and you can restore your site with a simple click if the need arises.

You need only choose your online website backup service of choice, configure it to your website, and choose the frequency. The application will run in the background, silently backing up your website’s data to your preferred guidelines.

3 Benefits of Using an Online Backup Service

An online backup service makes your life easier and your website safer in a few main ways.

1. Backups Are Effortless

When you use a service that creates automatic backups, it removes the work entirely from your to-do list. You can trust that all new changes and updates to your website are being quietly backed up, while you focus on the main work of running your website.

In contrast, backing your website up manually to a hard drive is something you have to remember to do—which makes it easy for busy people to forget.

2. Enhanced Security Protocols

If you’re manually backing up your site and using a basic storage solution, your levels of security won’t be as high as those a cloud backup solution provides. An HDD backup can open your files up to risks like data corruption, storage malfunction, and physical damage. 

Online backup services not only have multiple layers of security to protect your files, but they’ll be stored on redundant servers. This means that copies of your site’s files are stored across multiple physical servers.

3. Speedy Site Recovery

One of the biggest benefits of using an online backup service is being able to restore your site to a previous version in an instant. With quick website recovery and data restoration times it’ll be like your site never took any damage in the first place.

A lot of online backup services will also offer technical assistance for restoring your site or even have one-click recovery options. This is a must-have for website owners who don’t want to go through the technical process of restoring their sites themselves.

How to Backup Your Website

Now that you’re thoroughly convinced on the why of backing up your website (you are, right? you should be), you need to know the how. The details of how to backup your website will depend on the service you choose for doing so. Here’s a walkthrough for a few popular options. 

How to Back Up Your Website Using cPanel

Many web hosting plans come with cPanel (if you have a HostGator plan, yours definitely does). If you don’t want to pay for an online service, cPanel gives you a way to manually create backups—you just have to remember to go in and take these steps on a regular basis. Consider creating a calendar alert so you actually remember.

  1. Log into your cPanel account.
  2. Scroll down to the Files section, and select Backup.
how to backup website using cpanel
  1. Click on the button that says “Download a Full Account Backup”. You also have options to backup specific sections of your website, if you want a faster process.
  2. Choose the destination where you want your backup to go, and fill in your email address.
  3. When your backup is ready, you’ll receive an email and see your backup listed in the “Backups Available for Download” section. 
generate website backup in cpanel

If you prefer a video to written instructions, just watch this. 

How to Back Up Your Website with CodeGuard

To start, purchase CodeGuard. If you already have a HostGator account, you’ll see the option to add it to the account you have in the Recommended Apps section of your dashboard. Then, CodeGuard will start the process of creating a backup right away. After that, CodeGuard will monitor your site daily and create a new backup anytime there’s a change. 

You can log into your CodeGuard account at any time to check on the status of the most recent backup, and restore your site if needed. 

see website backup status in codeguard

For more information on how CodeGuard works and the setup process, check out this video.

How to Backup Your WordPress Website with a Plugin

If you use WordPress, then you know there’s a plugin for just about anything you could need. For something as important as website backups, you’ve got a number of plugin options. The initial steps for using these plugins will essentially be the same:

  1. Decide what plugin you want to use.
  2. When logged into WordPress, select “Add New” in the Plugins menu.
  3. Search for your backup plugin.
  4. Click install. 
  5. Click Activate. 

For some plugins that may be enough for them to start automatically creating backups, while others may have additional setup instructions. Look for instructions provided by the plugin you chose to figure out any additional steps to take to get started.

A Backup a Day (or Week) Keeps Catastrophe Away

Whatever method you choose, the important thing is that you take the step of starting to create regular backups for your website. Choosing an option that automates the process means less work for you, and less risk of forgetting to get it done. For a lot of people, that also translates to better peace of mind, which is more than worth it for a couple bucks a month. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll never actually need to use the backups you created. But more likely, you’ll be immensely relieved that they’re there the day you do. 

Choosing the Best Website Backup Service

When you’re looking for a solid website backup service there are certain features you’ll want to keep an eye out for. The last thing you want to do is choose a low-quality online backup service.

Here are three key features you’ll want to keep an eye out for when choosing a backup service:

1. Off-Site Backups

You want your backups to be protected from hackers and hardware failure. This means that your backups need to be stored in an off-site protected location, not just on a traditional website server. Look for an online backup service that offers off-site backups as part of their service offering.

2. Automated Backups

If you have to create your backups yourself, then you’ll probably never get around to it. Our lives are busy, and you probably have a handful of website-oriented tasks you’re trying to complete every day as well.

The last thing you’ll remember to do is backing up your website. Plus, it’s a simple enough task that it’s easy to put off until “tomorrow”.

With automated backups, you don’t have to think twice about backing up your website. Just sign up for a service, create a backup schedule, and the rest is taken care of for you.

Automation is one of the most important aspects of an online backup service. Without automation, the task probably won’t get done.

3. Redundant Backups

Another very important feature of your online backup service is redundant backups. This is where your website files and folders will be stored in multiple server locations. Or, you’re having backups of backups made.

This ensures that a single event won’t bring down your backups or storage, and you have multiple lines of defense, instead of a single point of failure.

Introducing the CodeGuard Backup Solution

If you’re already a HostGator customer then you should probably consider CodeGuard as your preferred backup solution. Think of CodeGuard as a time machine for your website.

Have a website update that goes wrong? Or, your site gets hacked and your site will barely function? Or, maybe your site is going haywire for no reason at all?

In one-click, you can restore your site to a previous version that functions how it should.

CodeGuard is equipped with features like:

  • Daily automatic backups (or whatever frequency you prefer)
  • One-click restore of your entire website, or a single file that’s been corrupted
  • Email alerts for any unauthorized changes that are made to your website
  • 24/7 website monitoring and scheduled scans
  • The ability to backup multiple different websites in a single storage space
  • Download a zip version of your entire site for manual backups (if you want even more stored versions of your site)

If you’re already hosting your site with HostGator and looking for a backup solution, then CodeGuard is a no brainer. It immediately integrates with your existing web hosting plan, so configuration is a breeze. Just choose your backup plan, select the websites you want to save, and this tool will do the rest.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why website backups are so important. With a solid website backup solution behind you and an experienced web hosting provider to rely on, you’ll protect the future of your site.

Casey is the Senior Director of Marketing for Hosting and has been in the web hosting space for 7 years. He loves the slopes and hanging out with his kids.