Last night, we talked about "back-ups." For those of you, like Paul Jones, who have spent their lives backing up, this is old hat. For those of you on Wordpress.com, you don't have to worry. For those of you on WP Engine, well, that company can host your site and it takes backups and you can restore your site to the last, best snapshot taken at a time in the past. You may lose a post or some work, but at the very least, you can recover most of what you lost.
So, let's talk about the terms.
Back-up - A back-up is a copy of your sites folders and files, as well as a copy of the database that are stored for you either on your web space or a web space somewhere else that you can choose. You don't have to store your back-up on your own web space. In fact, that is not preferred. You generally want to back-up to an alternate space with a different company altogether. That way, if the fire burns down one company's house, the other company is not affected.
Yes, you should do this for WordPress, but you should also do this at home too! Today, there are many back-up solutions. You have two options. You can back-up to an external hard drive connected to your laptop or desktop via a USB 2.0 cable (all external drives come with them). In Apple's case, they used to have Firewire, which was a very fast connection between devices, but now they have something called Thunderbolt, which is up to 8 times faster than the fastest Firewire connection. That means it will take you far less time to back up your laptop than it used to.
A Macbook comes with a back-up program called Time Machine. It's very simple to run. Connect your device (I have a Lacie 1TB drive), launch Time Machine, then assign Time Machine to store your backup to that device and it does all the work for you. There are various options for both Macs and PCs, but I use Time Machine for my Mac. For the PC,
Here are two articles which mention back-up solutions for your laptop.
The second option is to backup in the cloud with a company like Carbonite. What this means, is that once you register an account and pay for the service at Carbonite, you will install a program on your computer and it will back-up all your PC or Mac files from your computer up to "the cloud."
What is "the cloud?" Well, it's simply a bunch of computers sitting in a facility somewhere in the United States. No, it's not in the sky. It's a physical locations with hundreds, if not thousands of computers, where you are assigned your own little website. Sort of like renting a storage space fo all that extra junk in your garage. When you turn your computer on each day, the cloud solution you subscribe to will simply take all most recently updated or created files and push them up into the cloud. It only backs-up your entire computer once, then the daily back-ups simply take whatever changes have happened, like upgrades or new Word documents you created or edited.
Remember that web space, while virtual, is somewhat physical in nature. There is only so much room on one machine and there are many people sharing that machine in the cloud. Fortunately, the providers have technology that moves people to different rooms if one computer gets overloaded with data. They manage that. You don't have to. However, when you have a fixed external drive at home, you may have only purchased a 1 terabyte drive. If you run out of space on that drive (which most normal people shouldn't, because 1 terabyte is A LOT OF SPACE!), then you may have to upgrade to a new drive. With cloud storage, you can simply just pay for increases, without having to buy new hardware to connect to your machine.
As far as WordPress goes, there are a few solutions.
First, your hosting provider should be taking daily "emergency backups" of their entire system and then storing those off site at some other location with companies like Iron Mountain, who provide data storage and security for big corporations. But, those backups are of their entire system, not just your webspace, so to ask for and get your site restored from one of those daily backups is problematic for a lot of reasons that you can imagine.
Second, you can use WP Engine as a host, which will take backups in real time of your site and you never have to worry.
Third, you can use Wordpress.com, but then you're limited in how much you can manipulate WordPress for e-commerce or other modifications that you can't do in a "closed" community.
Fourth, you can subscribe your site to VaultPress, a service of Auttomatic, the for-profit arm of WordPress. They have daily and "real time" backups. For most people, daily is fine. For power users who publish every minute or every hour having a service that backs up every post in real time is critical. That way, if you lose you site to a crash or nefarious hacker, you can simply revert back to the last, best version and possibly lose nothing, because VaultPress backs up every single change you make, on the fly.
Another great solution is Back-Up Buddy, which is a third party plugin that acts like VaultPress and in its settings panel, you can assign Back-Up Buddy to take a snapshot of your site and store it somewhere else of your choosing. You may have to rent that extra web space from Amazon or another service, but remember, keeping your back-up on a space that is separate from your own web server is critical, because if your host fails, you can still get your backup and restore from those files. This path is for intermediate users. For beginners, I prefer hosting with WP Engine ( more expensive, but you get piece of mind) and VaultPress.
I hope this helps with the conversation last night and I'll post this to the Facebook group as well, for those of you who don't use email.
Tony Zeoli, Founder
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