Can back-up plugins in WordPress do the same job as the hosting back-up options mentioned in this lesson? How does backup in Backup Manager differ from backup when in SiteGround except that you are doing it yourself? I have a Bluehost free back-up account, which doesn’t give access to files and folders (but I guess they are still backed up). How important is it to have access to files and folder?
When dealing with backups, it is important to think about what you trying to achieve. For example, what event will this backup help me recover from? The questions that follow are, how quickly can I recover, how easy is it to recover, how much does it cost to recover, what data will I lose when I restore a backup? Backups are easy, recovery is not.
Broadly speaking, hosts typically offer 2 types of backups.
- System Backups
- Site Backups
System Backups are geared at protecting against hardware failure such as disk crashes, disk controller failures, or when the data center goes up in smoke. The host will perform the recovery without involving the clients to get the dozens or perhaps hundreds of affected websites back online. The hardware has built-in redundancy so a good host will be able to have multiple hardware failures and hot-swap in replacement disks while the system remains operational. Complete system failures are rare. System backups will usually take place at least once but typically several times a day. Backups will be stored offsite using providers such as the wonderfully named Iron Mountain.
Site Backups are aimed at protecting individual sites. The problems covered include software corruption through software errors, intruder hacks, accidentally or maliciously deleted content, or disks being full, quota used up. The site backup will include all the folders, files and databases. The host will often provide a client dashboard whereby you can restore the site in its entirety, back to the specific point in time when the backup was taken. This means all changes since the backup are lost. Other hosts offer a partial recovery service, either paid for, or included within your monthly hosting package, so you may end up losing no data and just recovering the deleted files. Site backups typically take place daily and are retained typically 14 to 30 days. There may also be weekly backups that may be retained for 3 months and monthly backups that may be retained up to 7 years for tax or legal reasons.
Backup plugins can be used for site backups, and file and database backups. You will typically run full backups weekly or monthly and database backups somewhere between hourly and daily depending on the frequency of changes to the site. You can either store the backups remotely on Amazon S3, DropBox, etc, or an FTP server, or just download them to your desktop. When it comes to recovery this will typically be to restore accidentally deleted files. You can do this yourself by expanding your backup locally, and then uploading the required file to your server using an FTP client such as FileZilla.
The overall difference when using a backup plugin over and above backups supplied by a typical shared hosting service, is that you can schedule your backups to run in a plugin. So you might have a backup run every day, every hour or whatever suits you. Most shared hosts do not have this type of automation built into their standard backup offering. SiteGround do but it is on their own terms under the GoGeek account at a frequency of once per 24 hours. It is also slightly more convenient to control things from your WordPress dashboard.
Overall Backup Strategy
With the Bluehost package you described as having no access to files and folders, you probably only have system level backups.
Therefore we recommend you use a backup plugin such as BackupBuddy to give you both full and database backups for each site. This will allow you to do your own full and partial recovery. It’s the plugin we use.
Further, if you know you are about to do something that may go wrong and cause data loss, do a manual backup just before you start so that you have something to fall back on immediately.
Further to that, we recommend the Siteground GoGeek package which has a excellent support that includes site backups and an unlimited full or partial recovery service. For sites that require more frequent backups e.g hourly, then use a WordPress backup plugin that either emails you the backup files or sends them to a remote location.