One crucial task that all Webmasters have to do is to backup websites on a regular basis. This article takes a look at the three main modern approaches to backing up the data and code relating to your website.
The majority of websites these days are developed, coded and created on the server side. This means using products like WordPress to both create content and the code used to present and format your website. As a result, there is a necessity to download the code and content to local servers as a backup solution. While some users choose to simply FTP the root directory and databases, it is more common to use the backup features in their content creation/authoring programs. This approach works well if you only have a small amount of websites, but can become tiresome if you have to deal with tens or hundreds of websites on a daily basis.
Many web-masters who had to deal with large number of websites started writing their own scripts to automate the process of downloading backup copies of the site. More recently, the open source community has also created applications such as wget that is in widespread use. However, it can take some extensive scripting knowledge to customize these scripts to suit your particular website and desired backup frequencies.
The most recent development has been the advent of website backup software (e.g. Affiliate Backup) that is both user-friendly and provides a level of automation. The Webmaster simply install the program, does some initial configuration of which folders and databases are to be backed up and schedules when the program should run. Most of these applications choose to e-mail the backup copies in a zip file as a neutral way of communicating the backup copies. This also means that the backups can be sent to several users (group) is an extra safeguard. This can help if you need to fix computers that have contracted viruses as you can simply use a different server and restore the content and code from your local zipped copies. In addition, this approach works well when backing up several dozen websites as the only manual intervention is needed is the initial configuration and set up.
How often you backup websites really depends on the volume of code changes and content was created on your website. On high-volume sites, or websites with a lot of new content, this should really be backed up on an almost daily basis.