Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Your Host to Backup Your Site

This is something I see a lot:

Blogger to Host: “Oh no, my site has been hacked! Can you please restore from a backup?”

Host: “What backup?”

I saw this reported on Facebook as recently as like a week ago.

Web hosts are notoriously shit for not backing up, even when they say they will. This is usually seen with budget hosts in the $5 – $10/month range.

No matter what your backup solution is, whether it’s with your host or a plugin or a third party service, you should always do one important thing:

Never assume your backups are being done without checking to make sure they are

What does that mean?

  • Download your backups.
  • Keep them in a place that YOU control and have access to.
  • Check them to make sure they’re actually working and contain the data they should be backing up.

Don’t let someone else be completely in control without you being able to confirm it’s happening.

Better to be safe than sorry, right?

At the very least, you can hop over to Tools > Export and download your WordPress XML file. This isn’t a perfect backup, but it will at least save some of the most important bits like posts, comments, and pages.

Have you ever tried to get a backup from a host who said they were backing up for you, just to find out they didn’t have them?

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Great advice. Another good habit to have with backups is:
    “Two is one, one is none”

    Always have more than one copy of your backups and make sure they are restorable. I like to keep one on the same server for easy access and one on a different computer (another server or my laptop) just in case.

  2. Great advice! Only, it seems tons of files get downloaded and if we’re not tech savvy we don’t know what they all mean by name. Shouldn’t we delete prior downloads before downloading weekly? Eats up too much storage sending to dropbox.

    1. @dgkaye,

      Part of the key is making it a space ‘you’ control. Dropbox is a 3rd party service that has up and downtime as well. I usually recommend keeping backups on your own computer AND a removable hard drive. USB sticks are ok in a pinch, but hard drives are much harder to physically lose :).

      As far as what files to store, even as someone who is tech savvy, since storage space is cheap, I store the kitchen sink, and then when something bad happens, that way I have it all…just in case.

  3. Hi Ashley!
    Do you have any posts or recommendations detailing the proper method of backing up a site for someone who’s not super savvy when it comes to the more technical aspects of wordpress? I definitely will be using your Tools-Export method but am wondering what the next steps are in terms of backing up my site. Thank you in advance for your guidance! 🙂

  4. I’ve never trusted Web hosts for site backups. I’ve read many horror stories of people’s site getting broken/hacked/etc and they go to their host and ask for the backup and the host is like “what?”

    I use UpdraftPlus and it sends the weekly backup to my Dropbox. Once it’s in my dropbox, I download it and put it on my external hard drive. Better to have it in multiple places! (Dropbox, External Hard Drive, and Web host).

  5. Interesting post-Ashley! Backups are crucial, especially when more than 20% of businesses that face data loss or suffer via a cyber-attack lose customers as well. And relying on just your hosting provider won’t make it easy. Similarly, web archiving is another aspect people overlook.

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