Who Is Responsible for my Website Backup?

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Website BackupYour website backup is one of the most important but often overlooked tasks. There are many circumstances in which you will need to use your website backup to restore your site.

The following is from a phone conversation that took place last year from a call that came into my office. It’s kind of amusing, but unfortunately, it’s true.

Caller: “Hey Dave.”

Me: “Yes.”

Caller: “Listen, I think I missed an email from my hosting company and didn’t renew my hosting account.”

Me: “Didn’t the hosting company renew your account from your credit card on file?”

Caller: “Well, the credit card was expired and I forgot to update it. You would think those guys would keep track of that, right?”

Me: “I guess. So what happened?”

Caller: “Well, when I go to my website I get a page that says 404.”

Me: “Sounds like your site is gone. Did you contact your host to see if you could reinstate your hosting account and for them to restore your site?”

Caller: “Well, this happened about 3 weeks ago. They say they can open up a new hosting account, but they can’t restore my website because it was deleted when they terminated my account. That really chaps my hide! They should know better. I’m sure this happens to a lot of people. They are responsible for losing my website, what should I do?”

Me: “Do you have a recent backup?”

Caller: “No, should I?”

Me: “Actually, yes you should.”

Caller: “I thought my host was responsible for my website backup.”

Me: “Well, they probably do it as a courtesy, but if you read their terms and conditions, they probably aren’t liable or responsible for it.”

Caller: “Well, what should I do? I need my website back up NOW!”

Me: “Why don’t you contact your website developer, maybe he has a copy of the original.”

Caller: “I don’t think he’s around anymore, can you help me? What should I do.”

Me: “Well, you’re actually responsible for your website backup and I’m afraid you’ll have to rebuild it from scratch.”

Caller: Long silence – “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Who Is Responsible for my Website Backup?

While this situation doesn’t happen very often, it has happened to several people I know in the last few years. Hosting companies can’t be responsible for your content, so never assume that they are. They might be able to restore your site in many cases, but don’t depend on it. You are responsible for your website backup.

Since I’m a website developer, many of my clients want me to host their site as well. In order to avoid the described scenario, I do the following as a paid service for clients that host with me. Every night, their website is backed up in its entirety and then uploaded to the cloud servers at AWS, (Amazon Web Services). These are redundant cloud servers at various places around the world. In the event of any kind of loss of information from a website, I can restore from the previous nights’ backup within 30 minutes and have them back up and running.
Some of the more common reasons you need to have a current website backup are:

  • Your site gets hacked
  • Your server crashed at your host and they can’t restore it
  • Your host deletes your account for non-payment because the credit card you put on file 2 years ago expired
  • Someone working on your site makes a mistake while editing or adding information
  • You update the software at your website and – Poof — unexpected results!

Avoid the headache, make a website backup regularly and remember something that people in the IT industry know well. If you don’t automate the process, it will get overlooked or forgotten, often at a critical time.