Many people make the mistake of thinking they don’t need a backup until it’s too late. Others know that a backup is a good idea but never get around to it because there is always something more pressing to take care of.
Anyone who has worked in the WordPress world for a while will have come across distraught site owners who have lost months or years of work because they neglected spend an hour or so each month managing and verifying automated backups for their site.
In this article, I’m not going to suggest a particular backup strategy or service that you should be using on your WordPress site. Instead, I’m going to take a look at four frightening reasons that you should start backing up your WordPress site today.
Because you aren’t perfect
I learned my lesson about backups when I deleted my WordPress site’s database while experimenting on the command line. I thought I knew what I was doing and ran an SQL query that I thought did one thing, only to discover that it did something else altogether.
It doesn’t have to be a rogue SQL query that spoils your day: a command line typo, a brain glitch, a misconfigured or malicious plugin — deleting the wrong data is an easy mistake to make.
Because the web is a dangerous place
As soon as a WordPress site goes live on the web, it becomes a target for criminals. Automated botnets probe it for weaknesses and take advantage of any vulnerability.
With a decent backup, recovering from a malware infection is an annoyance, but without a backup it’s a nightmare.
In 2017, ransomware attacks cost businesses across Europe and the US hundreds of millions of dollars. Until recently, ransomware hasn’t been much of a problem for WordPress sites hosted on Linux servers, but late last year WordFence reported that they were “tracking an emerging kind of ransomware that targets WordPress websites”.
A remote backup is the only sure protection against ransomware attacks. An attacker can’t ransom your data if you have a duplicate stored in a secure remote data center.
Because your servers aren’t immortal
The best WordPress hosting providers use enterprise-grade hardware that is pretty tough, but that doesn’t mean it will last forever. Given enough time, even the most reliable hardware will fail. The law of averages tells us that hardware can fail unpredictably at any point in its life: deploy thousands of hard drives and you’ll hit a dud eventually.
If your WordPress site is unlucky enough to be stored on a drive that dies and you don’t have a backup, you can wave goodbye to your hard work.
Because code isn’t perfect
WordPress is complex and it’s the tip of an even more complicated iceberg that includes a web server, PHP runtime, database, and an operating system composed of thousands of interacting parts. All of this code is tested, but developers aren’t perfect and, once in a blue moon, a mistake that deletes or corrupts data will find its way into production software.
My point is this: if your WordPress website only exists in one place, it is in a very dangerous position. If it exists in two or three places, the chances of an irresistible catastrophe are substantially reduced.
About Graeme Caldwell — Graeme works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess and check out their tech/hosting blog, http://blog.nexcess.net/.