The Oft Forgotten Art of Backing Up

I’ve been doing some work for new clients recently, mainly creating some WordPress based sites and a couple requiring me to dust down my copy of Dreamweaver and re-acquaint myself with working on other people’s code.

Whilst I’m no HTML ninja I realise just how rubbish some so-called web developers are. In one instance what should be a fairly simple 5 page site is made mission impossible to update by the fact each page is created from a separate PNG file. Why the designer didn’t utilise Dreamweaver’s template function is beyond me as all the pages share the same layout but each one has been sliced differently so the time spent trying to add one extra link would have been better spent re-doing the entire site.

Interestingly, only 1 out of the 5 clients had a backup of their site and that one was over a year old and wasn’t reflective of the way it is currently. One thing I’ve learnt from bitter experience is BACK IT UP!

There once was a time I’d usually think it best to do a redesign of one of my own sites after I’d either drunk or smoked myself into a haze with quite often disastrous consequences, usually not helped by me having no backup to revert back to when it all went wrong, which it so often did.

With WordPress sites I now add Lester Chan’s plug-in as standard, it’s free and once configured you can set it and forget it but it’s limitation is it will only backup your database so you’ll need to find another solution to back up the rest of your site e.g. themes, plug-ins and what-not. Most good hosting providers will include a means of zipping up and archiving your site but few provide an automated means of doing so, at least not for free.

That’s the thing tho isn’t it? We spend most of our time looking for free options we forget that free often means free of any support, so if the free option results in no backup and you have to recreate your site from scratch, free turns out to be very bloody expensive.

So it was I started looking around for something that would backup not only my own WordPress sites but those of clients and if it could do it to schedule, all the better. That’s how I discovered BackupBuddy and what a great little plug-in it is, you can tell I like it because I’ve added an animated affiliate link to the sidebar ;-}

Not only does it backup your WordPress database on a schedule, it can also do the entire site and allows you to exclude folders. You can transfer the backup to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, an FTP server or email if it’s not too large making it a complete headache remover and worth the money but BackupBuddy not only does the backing up and restoring of your site, it handles migration too, which if you set-up WordPress sites often is an amazing time saver, how so? I’m glad you asked.

If you’ve ever set-up a WordPress site you know the routine; install WordPress, configure the theme to your liking, install the handful of plug-ins you like, configure said plug-ins and then sit back content in a job well done, perhaps 3 or 4 hours after you started. With BackupBuddy you do that once, back it up and then, wonder of wonders, upload your backup and a PHP script to your new location, run the script and it will recreate your backup in a matter of minutes. You don’t even need install WordPress, it does it all for you.

I tested it over the weekend and had a demo site up and running in under 10 minutes. That function alone makes it well worth the money so if you do find yourself creating WordPress sites, be sure to add BackupBuddy to your must have plug-ins list.

If you’ve read this far then well done, backing up of data is not the worlds most interesting topic so as a reward I thought I’d include the video of the gloriously wonderful Caro Emerald’s song Back it Up, enjoy!

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