By Patty J. Ayers
I can’t emphasize this strongly enough: don’t ever work on a WordPress site without making frequent full backups of both the files and the database. While working regularly on the site, you absolutely should be making complete backups once a day. You only have to make a very bad mistake on a website one time, and find out that you don’t have a usable backup, to have this rule burned into your mind forever, as it is for me!
I swear by BackupBuddy, a plugin from iThemes.com. The cost (as of this writing, $150/year for use on unlimited websites) is well worth the peace of mind. I set up a backup schedule right at the start of working on a new website.
For storing my backups, I have an account with Rackspace, which turns out to be very low-cost at the level of file space I’m using.
There are also a number of free WordPress plugins for backing up your files and database.
You need a system, and it should be the same for every website, so that it doesn’t get too complex for you to manage. My backup system took me a while to figure out and set up at first, but now that I have it worked out, and wrote out the steps for myself, it doesn’t require much time or attention. You’ll want to do the same: develop an orderly system of automatic backups and put it in place for each new client website. Any decent system is better than none at all.
The big mistake I referred to above was on a website I didn’t produce myself, but rather had been asked to work on. As a result of that experience, I made a hard-and-fast policy for my business: I don’t touch a website without making a full backup first, and I make regular backups at least daily, if not more often, while I’m working. And I’m always prepared to restore the website to its most recent healthy state, if necessary.
Among all our worries and concerns as web developers, backups should be the highest priority. Because no problem other than the lack of a good backup can cause anywhere near as much distress and financial loss.