Data Backup – Don’t Trust Your Host

Data Backup - Don't Trust Your WebhostDo you trust your host to backup your data or do you backup your own data?  In several of the webhosting forums that I visit, I have read that many webmasters trust their host to backup their data.  In fact, most hosts will advertise backup services but is this something that you should trust your online business to?

The obvious reasons for performing regular data backups include recovering from a system crash, website hack or to simply protect you in case your webhost decides to close up shop unannounced.  Trusting your webhosting company to backup your data is like trusting the fox to guard the hen house.  Regardless of how paranoid this may sound, never trust your webhost to backup your data.

It is a wise idea to get into the habit of performing regular backups of your online data.  It should not stop there.  It is also wise to perform regular backups of data stored on your computer systems.

How valuable is your data?  WebHosting Talk, a popular forum dedicated to webhosting has learned a valuable lesson in this regard.  A hacker apparently gained access to their backup servers, deleted all backups and then proceeded to delete their forum databases.  WebHosting Talk was forced to restore from a backup they had from October 2008 – that means 5 months worth of forum posts have potentially been lost.

What would this type of loss mean to your business?  Would you be able to generate your blog posts and content that you have written?  The cost of data loss can be enormous to a business in both lost revenue, lost productivity and lost reputation in the business community.

Data loss is a real threat to business continuity and if you think that there is no need to backup your data because your host is performing backups, think again.  Data loss happens, and failing to backup your data means that you have simply been lucky in avoiding catastrophy.

With 38 percent of the data loss associated with drive failure and another 30 percent associated with drive read instability, data loss from hardware failure or related issues is a real possibility.  Most webhosting companies use hard drives located on the same server or on a backup server (as in the case of WebHosting Talk).  This is not ideal and should throw up flags when selecting a web hosting company.

Ideally, your webhost should not only backup to a hard drive, but also have a backup strategy that includes offlne and off-site storage.  Ensure that the backup schedule performed by your host includes daily and weekly backups, especially if you have a website where the content changes rapidly or there are many transactions.

 Also make sure that your webhost regularly tests their backups  to ensure that nothing is wrong with their offline media.  In the case of  WebHost Talk, they did have offline backups, but there was apparently something wrong with the media.  Having offline media was a correct strategy for their backups, but obviously their failure to regularly test their offline backups was negligent.

Some webhosts are great at providing backup services as part of their hosting packages.  These companies also offer premium backup services for an additional charge and that charge may vary with the amount of data involved.

It may seem paranoid, but the only person that you can trust to backup your data is you.  Never trust your webhost to backup your data.  Failing to do this could severely shorten the life of your online business.  Your data means everything.

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
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