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Mark Embling

Backups Are Not Optional

Last night I was given a sharp reminder that having a backup strategy for any content you value is important. I know it has been said many times before and will continue to be said many more times in the future but even if you don't read any further, just do yourself one favour: make sure your backup strategy is in place and is working.

So Why The Lecture?

You know how it is... you have a VPS or a dedicated server running your blog and a few other sites. You have the important configuration files and so forth backed up and the standard snapshots provided by your ISP, but no proper backup strategy for your content.

It is just sitting there in your database, growing slowly. Watching. Waiting. One day when you aren't looking, disaster will strike.

Or maybe you'll be lucky. I was.

Somehow my VPS managed to get well and truly broken. I'm not completely sure what caused it (it could have been one of several things) but the end result was the Plesk config was ruined and totally useless. Normally I wouldn't see the need for Plesk as I'd just set everything up myself, but I have some friends' sites as well and its nice to be able to provide them the ability to log on to their own control panel to manage their services. Unfortunately, I had no way to revert or undo what had happened so I had to resort to using one of the automated image backups provided by the ISP. This backup was dated 1 Feb – 9 days ago. Not ideal...

I applied the backup and once restoration was complete, sure enough everything came back happy and working again. But horror of horrors - my last blog post was missing. And I had no backups of this at all.

Message Received & Understood

One blog post... that's all I'd lost. And I've even got that back thanks to Google's cache. All is restored, and it only took 5 minutes to do. But the message is clear: next time it could be much worse.

I will be making sure I have some kind of proper strategy in place in the future to back up my blog (and other) content. As a developer I really should have known better in the first place, especially reading about the horrible losses others have suffered in the past.

So if you think your stuff could go the same way, check. Set something up. Even just a simple script will do. Next time it could be you. If your data is important to you (or to others), backups are not optional.