In last week’s post, I talked about how to choose your website hosting provider and what you should be looking for.

One of those key features your web host needs to have is a solid and reliable backup system.

Let’s look a little more closely at specifically what your website hosting company should include in terms of backups.

There are some important questions to ask to determine if your hosting company’s backups are sufficient.

Web Hosting Company Backup Must-Haves

iThemes has a great infographic in their article here that was used as a source for this post, and that you should grab as a handy reference.

How often does the web host run backups?

You want a daily backup at a minimum.

Or, if you run something like an e-commerce website where customer order information is changing regularly throughout the day, you will want access to real-time backups. With real-time backups, your order information is backed up every time it changes.

How long do they store backups?

You want at least 30 days worth of backups because if you discover today that you need to restore your website to a version from two weeks prior, you need to have the ability to go back that far.

Are there any storage limits?

If you have a really large website with a significantly sized media library, you’ll need to make sure there isn’t going to be a limitation on the size of the backup.

What do they include in their backups?

You want to ensure they include all files and databases, including everything in your media library and all of your plugin and theme files.

Can you create a backup on demand?

If you’re planning on making a big change to your site, it’s nice to have the ability to create a backup immediately prior to making those changes, just as a safety measure.

Not all hosting allows you to initiate a backup when you want one.

Can you directly access the backups for download?

You must have easy access to your backup files to be able to download it if you need to.

For example, if you need to migrate a backup of your website to a new hosting provider, for whatever reason.

Where do they store your website’s backups?

Your website hosting provider must store your backups on a server separate from where your website is located.

If your backups are stored locally on the same server as your website, your backups will not be safe if something happens to your website. They should be stored off-site in another location.

Do they make it easy to restore from a backup?

Even with the best preparations, something can go wrong on your website and you may need to quickly restore a previous backup. In this situation, it needs to be an easy process to get access to that backup to do a restore, without having to reach out to your hosting company for support.

For example, one of your WordPress plugin updates could break your website, necessitating a quick restore of a current backup.

Do they allow you to restore individual files or database tables?

There are times when you don’t need to do a complete website restore and having the ability to restore individual files or database tables can be incredibly helpful.

For example, it could potentially save you from overwriting new blog posts that have been added.

When to get VaultPress

If your hosting company doesn’t check all of those boxes, then I strongly recommend implementing a third-party automated backup plugin like VaultPress.

Here’s when you would need to implement a plugin like VaultPress to properly protect your website:

  • Your web host does not have backups for at least 30 days.
  • Backups are stored on the same server as your website.
  • Hosting backups are unable to store fully (for example, if there are storage limits)
  • Your backup does not include all files and the database
  • You’re unable to restore backups yourself on your hosting
  • It’s difficult to restore a backup through your hosting plan

I personally use WP Engine for my own websites, and many of my clients use Siteground‘s shared hosting.

Both of those are solid options for hosting providers with a reliable backup and restore system.

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