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Backing up your files, databases and whole site

Anyone who has been running a website for very long will know that one of the most important aspects of maintaining a site is backups. Funnily enough though, this is one of the quietest areas in our support system. That is, until clients experience their first crash, loss of data or major error plaguing their files/system. It then turns to PANIC time in a very big way!

Let us just say at this point – BACKING UP YOUR WEBSITE IS REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT!

So, how do you go about it?

What follows is a brief guide to the varying options and includes what is contained within each backup method.

Of course, backing up your files, includes all of your texts, images, programs and any other files which can be uploaded and downloaded using ftp and other file transfer methods. It is usually a very simple exercise.

Number One then, simply go into your FTP or FILE MANAGER and download your files to your local machine. If you do this regularly, then you are safe in the knowledge that you have all of your files backed up. Easy!

Of course, most sites [or at least a very high percentage] now use a database system to contain all of the content. The question is, does the method above backup this content contained in your database? No!

To backup your databases you either have to use some kind of plugin for your software or you need to know how to use your database manager. As FreshlyPressed focusses on WordPress users, we can be more specific and say that in terms of a plugin, you can use something like WP-DB-Backup [or a choice of many others] to partially automate this procedure and relieve you of having to know how to use phpMyAdmin [the most commonly used database manager for MySQL databases].

The database backup is in the form of a file with a .sql extension or .gz [in a zipped format]. Generally they are less then 2mb and if they are much bigger than 3 or 4 mb it is possible that you are backing up unnecessary logs or other information that is not important.

So, two backups already – your files and your database. For most users this is probably all you need – at least on a regular basis anyway. But there is another form of backup too and for some this is very important.

If you would like to back up ‘everything on your account, including databases, files, emails, configurations, well ‘EVERYTHING’, then you can use the BACKUPS function which is located in cPanel – FILES.

Here is a brief guide for the procedure:

1. Go the location detailed above.

2. Click on the BACKUPS icon and this will open a new page.

3. Click on the DOWNLOAD OR GENERATE A FULL WEB SITE BACKUP [Ignore the message – Disabled by default, it will actually work.]

4. On the new page, leave the setting as Home Directory but change the email address to your own. This will then backup your whole account, to the root directory of your account – under the public_html directory, and therefore, not visible to the public.

5. Download the file to your local machine via FTP

The BACKUP WIZARD also provides the option of partial backups, ie, files in your home directory and your databases. Follow the simple prompts within cPanel to do your backups via this method.

It is important to note, that you cannot restore your full backup via cPanel. This method simply backs up everything and enables you to keep a copy on your local machine. To restore a Full backup, you would need to get in touch with us at FreshlyPressed and we would have to obtain the file from you, in order to restore.

You can also use the partial backup options [within same panel in cPanel] and yes, you can restore these partial backups, but it is our advice that you do not do so. Experience has shown us time and time again that it is very easy to make a mistake at this point, so we would highly recommend that if you do need to restore, you get in touch with us and send us the file to restore.

It is also worth mentioning at this point, that backing up your files, databases and whatever else, is YOUR responsibility. We are glad to help, but hold no responsibility if your backups are not regularly maintained. Automated backups are too problematic and will not work on this server!