WTF is a backup
First things first, let’s talk about what a backup is before we dig into what you need. A backup is a copy of whatever you are backing up at that exact moment in time.
For my fellow iPhone users, that means it’s the apps, settings + texts you have on your phone at the moment you run your backup. Any apps you install after that, or texts you send/receive later in the day will not be included in the backup you ran in the morning.
For websites, it means that the plugin versions you are on, the blog posts you already have written + posted, along with any comments that have been made so far will be included in your backup. Anything added after that backup will not be there if you need to revert to the backup you ran.
There’s more than one type of backup
With most of the WordPress backup plugins available today you can run one or both types of backups — database or full.
A database backup saves only the data in your server database for your WordPress site. It’s really nerdy, but essentially it means that it saves the core information — blog posts, comments, user accounts + pages.
A full site backup saves all of the database info as well as your themes, theme settings, widgets + more. The database backup is great to have in a pinch, but a full site backup is preferred because it is a full copy of your site instead of part of the story.
What do you need to backup
Now that you know what a backup is + that there are different types, it’s time to dig into the backups that will benefit you as an online entrepreneur!
It’s mission critical to backup your WordPress website because bad things do happen. Your site may be safe from hackers because of all of the work you’ve done, but is it safe from server malfunctions or user errors? I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has accidentally deleted an entire theme + all of its settings because they clicked the wrong button or left their website up while a cat or kiddo got ahold of their keyboard.
Having a full site backup is your best bet, but a database backup is so much better than no backup at all.
Once you’ve secured your site by backing it up, it’s worth doing the same for your computer (or computers!) If you’re a Mac user, Time Machine makes it really easy to routinely backup your entire device without having to schedule it or even thinking about it. You set it up once + that’s it.
If you aren’t on a mac, or don’t have an external hard drive to use for time machine, another way to keep your files protected is to use a cloud storage option like Dropbox or Box. Most of these services provide backup solutions for their basic account level, which means you are protected by a company with the time + resources to run backups regularly (usually daily) so you don’t have to think about it.
Just like the example above, it’s never a bad idea to have a backup of your phone. More often than not, this backup can be set to run automatically when you plug it into your computer — which is great if you connect your phone every workday via a dock.
We carry these pocket computers everywhere, including dangerous places like above cement, near toilets + on moving vehicles. One wrong drop + you could lose all of your contacts, apps + precious photos. But if you have a backup of your phone, you don’t need to stress.
Hopefully you’re using a password vault to store your super secure passwords. If so, you’ll want to have a backup of that in case your computer crashes or a rogue software update goes completely haywire.
The best way I’ve found to back up my vault is by syncing it with Dropbox. That way my passwords are available on all of my devices the second I save them + Dropbox is making backups of that vault for me.
One of my absolute favorite nerdy words is redundancies. And what it means for backups is that you are better off having not just one backup, but multiple.
It’s not a bad idea to backup your phone daily, save a full backup of your website every week or month + backup your computer files every day that you use the device. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to save a few versions of the backups in case one copy is bad, but there is no reason to save more than a handful of them. So if your settings allow you to delete backups after a number of days or when you have a set number of copies, take advantage of it!
And if you’re a bit stressed about the possibility of a crappy circumstance happening, save no more than a dozen backups. That way you know you have options, but you also aren’t taking up tons of space with unneeded copies.