Sorry, Your Website is Gone

A client of mine had three websites hosted at BlueHost. One day they were all down. She called BlueHost and they said, “Sorry, due to a hardware failure, all of your files are gone.” Forever, irretrievable, gonzo, later, sayonara, oh, yeah, and sorry about that. Ouch.

So yes, we should be backing up on a regular basis to multiple locations, of course. But I think in the back of our minds we think, “Oh, it’ll be OK. It won’t happen to me.” I guess it’s like getting your house robbed or maybe not thinking there will be an earthquake (I’m writing this at 5:46 in the morning and there was a good jolt here in San Francisco 10 minutes ago … I thought the garbage truck just bumped into the building). It’s not if it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.

I guess I’m just incredulous. I think GoDaddy has some sort of “emergency” restore service where, for something like $150, you can get all of your files back. If your sites are history, $150 sounds like a bargain.

BlueHost says that backups are your responsibility and yep, they sure are. They are our files, we should give them as much attention as we feel they’re worth. If we don’t care too much about the content on our site, no worries, nothing lost. But if you care about what’s on your site, please back up your files.

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7 Responses to Sorry, Your Website is Gone

  1. Ali S October 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Good reminder … so what is your recommended backup method, is the automated WP backup (which emails you each … week?) sufficient? And do you have any recommendations for how to go about restoring said files in a virtual sandbox so that one can confirm that the backup will do a true & proper restore of the site?

    • Bradley Charbonneau October 28, 2011 at 5:57 am #

      The best solution out there, IMO, is BackupBuddy. There are some more powerful, “enterprise” or VIP services out there, such as the one from Automattic (WordPress’s quasi owner): VaultPress but it can get a little pricey for a single, non-revenue-generating site.

      There’s also, of course, cPanel’s cron jobs (setting up automated backups via your host’s control panel). Those are great, but seeing what happened yesterday with BlueHost, I’d also want an offsite backup. Same reason I like Carbonite for my hard drive files (photos, etc.): even though I have files backed up in multiple locations … because those multiple locations are all in the same place (just multiple machines)! So if there’s an earthquake, like, you know, yesterday, and my files are safe offsite. Did it ever hurt to have files backed up in too many places?

      The only slightly more advanced set up aspect of BackupBuddy is the offsite backup. You’ll need an account at Amazon AWS (which is what I do for clients) or Dropbox or another server. BackupBuddy also does a nice job of restoring if/when you do go down.

  2. dan barahona October 28, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    another recommendation is to have two hosts. Given how inexpensive hosting is one can easily have two hosts, make changes to both, and use a service like no-ip.com to allow you to switch between them instantly. This helps not only when files are lost, but even when one host has an outage.

    • Bradley Charbonneau October 28, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      But how does the domain actually work? Is there some sort of mirroring going on? RAID in the sky? You just went over my head, Mr. Sys Admin! :-)

  3. dan barahona October 28, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    nothing that sophisticated. Call it RAID -1… Human RAID. I.e., make all changes to both hosts.

  4. John October 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Hey Bradley,

    How much do you charge for your WordPress backup plans?

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