Cheap and Reliable Offsite Backup Options For Your Site
Last updated on Jul 9, 2016
When it comes to website management and web hosting, the role of backups can never be underestimated. In fact, even if you are not hosting a live site and instead have files stored on your computer, backups are still equally important. Hardware tends to fail, network issues may arise, malware can hamper the quality of your data, and a lot of other things can go wrong without any warning.
As such, having backups of your content and data is of utmost importance, and this becomes especially important if your website is vital for your business.
Every good web host offers backups, even on the most basic of plans. Thus, you can be assured that you data is backed up and safely stored. However, that does not mean you should not implement a backup policy of your own. After all, what if you enter into a billing dispute with your web host, and your website’s data is held hostage? Or what if there is a failure with your web host’s backup system? Having your own backups is always a wise move.
What are some of the cheapest and highly reliable backup options? In other words, how can you backup your data if you are running on a stiff budget?
If those are the questions you need an answer to, this article is meant for you.
What Should You Know About Backups?
The importance of backups has been stressed innumerable times, so we can safely bypass that. However, what do you mean by “offsite” backups? Why should you have your backups offsite?
Offsite backups implies that the backups are stored at a server different from your live site. Now, of course you can have your backups stored locally on the same server as the live site, but this defeats the purpose of backing up your data: if your web hosting server encounters a hardware problem, your live site goes offline, and your backup falls flat too, since both existed on the same server. Therefore, offsite backups are a smart move.
Obviously, in this case, you need to pay for the offsite storage as well, and this can shoot up your budget manifolds. This becomes especially important if you are running on a budget — not everyone can invest in enterprise grade backup offerings.
But that does not mean your data is not important, is it?
How Should You Conduct Backups?
Your backup strategy, obviously, depends heavily on the nature of your website.
If, for example, your website is rather small in size, and is not highly mission-critical, you can generate and store local backups on your own hard drive. Such backups can easily be uploaded as and when needed, and you can also be assured that your data is safe.
Similarly, if you are using a Content Management System as popular as WordPress, you can opt for an option such as Backup Buddy or VaultPress. These services generally cost a decent amount, but allow you to backup your WordPress website from within the WordPress admin panel.
However, most websites are not so small that you can download their backups within minutes. Furthermore, at times, variables such as internet connection speeds, and the unavailability of a reliable local storage (say, you use a shared computer) too come into play.
Also, if you are not using WordPress, or have files stored outside your WordPress installation (email forwarding rules, files managed by another CMS, subdomains and URL forwarders, etc.), your WordPress backup options will not help you handle those.
In such cases, we can turn towards alternative options that will not burn a hole in our pockets.
Cheap and Reliable Offsite Backup Options
For what it’s worth, let us focus on options that play well with the cPanel full backup method. This does imply that cPanel’s full backup method is the only logical backup methodology — it simply happens that cPanel is the most popular control panel out there, and you will need a full backup if you wish to move your website or restore it at a later date.
When conducting a manual backup, we can, generally speaking, either store the backup files elsewhere via FTP (or SFTP), or SCP. Both the options are equally fine; certain web hosts also allow you to store files via Web Disk or WebDAV.
A. Using The Cloud
There are several cloud storage options, such as Amazon Cloud Drive or Google Drive that let you store your files and data for a nominal fee. You can follow the traditional route: download the backups to your computer, and then upload to your cloud storage service, or you can directly employ FTP to transfer files.
This method, as you can guess, has one key benefit: your data is easily accessible from wherever you wish to, and you can forget about problems such as hardware failure or DDoS attacks.
B. True “Storage” Options
Personally, I have had immense success with ADrive. I rely on this service for managing most of my website backups — I can simply use SCP to transfer full website backups directly to my ADrive account, and that’s all. With $25 per annum for 100 GB, ADrive is quite possibly the most budget-friendly backup option you are gonna find anywhere.
Another similar alternative would be Box.com that is way more user friendly, and slightly costlier as compared to ADrive (note that the free plans of Box.com or ADrive will not suffice as there is no support for FTP or SCP).
There are various other storage options out there with similar set of features — you can select whichever one suits your needs, though I would advise you to pick from either Box.com or ADrive, as these are established names and will hopefully be around for quite a while (Barracuda’s Copy.com recently closed its doors, so in the highly competitive world of cloud storage, you never know who is going to call it quits).
C. Take Remote Storage, Literally.
Another option that you can try is to contact the medium- to small-sized web hosting providers and see if they are willing to offer you a remote storage space on their servers, for use with your backups and not live sites.
In other words, you purchase a shared or reseller plan with them, but instead of hosting a live site, you host your backups with a fictional domain name. Your pricing can be revised accordingly since you will not be consuming a lot of I/O processes. Trust me, a good number of non-corporate owned web hosts are happy to do that, as long as you play good and do not use the storage space to host or store unwarranted content.
This “remote storage” can work well for you since you can easily transfer data via FTP or SFTP, and if things ever go wrong, you can even get the latest copy of your backup from the offsite cPanel account and restore it. Plus, the virus scanner on your backup hosting account can help you ensure that you backups are not compromised.
Note that, however, you will need to ensure that the backup hosting panel is of the same platform as your live site’s hosting panel. In other words, if your live site is running on a Linux host, your backup host too should be on Linux, to avoid any chances of corrupted backups. Also, make sure you do not store your backups in the public_html folder — FTP can help you store them elsewhere (and if you badly wish to store your backups in public_html folder, be sure to deny access to others by means of .htaccess rules).
What do you think of these cheap offsite backup options for your site? Share your views in the comments below!
Sufyan is a contributor to a variety of websites and blogs about technology, Linux, open source, web design, content management systems and web development. Learn more about his works on sufyanism.com