Don’t be a victim of catastrophic data loss. Protect yourself.

Don’t be a victim of catastrophic data loss. Protect yourself.

Do you have a backup plan for your website or blog in the event of a hard drive crash, server crash or some other form of harm like getting hacked? If you don’t, you should.

Many people take computers for granted, thinking nothing will go wrong or they leave it up to some 3rd party source to handle backups and security. While you think that may be enough, let me tell you it’s not. For instance, were you aware that the data entered during an online transaction can even be hacked before it reaches its intended destination? As a matter of fact, you cannot call your data safe unless you use software solutions such as VPNs (visit blogs like Nordvpn vs Private Internet Access to find the best VPN) to encrypt your sensitive info before it leaves your device and is sent to the web.

A few years ago I fell victim to a hacked website and lost everything. Now I’m here to tell you what happened and what I do now, to protect myself.

Hard drive crash

Let’s face it, nothing lasts forever and hard drives are no exception. And when (not if) it fails, all your data is gone. And it’s not like you can utilize attribute based access control services to protect all the data that was once previously stored on your database. If you do, it is very likely that you work for a successful business or because you have this type of knowledge already. As well as this, you may be one of the fortunate to have thousands to send it to some special lab to attempt to retrieve the data that was on it. I know I’m not. There are two main hard drives that can cause you a headache when they crash.

First is the hard drive on the server that runs your website. Many hosts will automatically keep backups of your site for you. While this is fine and dandy, it is not enough. There’s no guarantee that they won’t be able to help you because of a possible corrupt backup or worse, they close up shop and leave you hanging with no website and no files.

Second there is the hard drive on your computer. Many keep notes, pictures and other files related to their websites on their home computers, myself included. Oh and let’s not forget about personal pictures, videos, music and everything else we keep on there as well. That’s a lot of important data that needs to be safe. While it may have never happened to you, we all know someone that has lost everything due to a hard drive crash.

Getting hacked

Aside from hard drive crashes, you could be the victim of a malicious hack. Years ago I ran a website that got hacked. It wasn’t a big site, but I did have a forum with several thousand posts on it. I had mostly stopped that project and left everything online for archival purposes. Because of that, I never really checked up on daily. Mostly only from time to time.

Well, low and behold, I went to the site one day and noticed that it was hacked. Someone had gone in and deleted everything from the forums and left a nice little message for me to let me know that it was hacked. It had been hacked long enough that my web host could provide no help. Their backup files didn’t go back far enough to save the site. All their backups contained the hacked version.

I was too naive at the time and didn’t have any local permanent copy that I could fall back on. The website was officially a lost cause and I pulled it off the web. Lesson learned.

Backup your files

If you use cpanel, which most hosts provide (what I use), there is a feature to zip up every file for your site into a single package for download. This zip file contains everything, files, databases, email accounts, etc. Make use of this feature. I download monthly backups for my sites in their entirety and weekly backups of the databases. You can never be too safe so you’ll want to always make sure your hosting comes with a backup capability!

Only when I know everything is all good with the newest backup, I will go ahead and delete the oldest version. I will always have a known working version of my sites, even if the backup is several months old, since I won’t overwrite my backup unless I know the new backup is all good.

On the home computer, I replicate the entire computer on an external hard drive on a regular basis, and keep the external hard drive physically disconnected when not in use. I’d hate for some hacker to break into it, delete everything for fun, and then go into the attached external drive and delete that too.

If you’re running a business that still keeps a considerable amount of paper documents in the office, creating digital backups of these is absolutely essential. Losing these to a disaster is not a situation you want to be unprepared for. If you have an HP scanner, you can use replacement software (like this – which can help you scan and file a document in one step, making the backup process a much easier one.

In conclusion

If you are not backing up your files, get going on it. Don’t wait until it is too late. If you do have a solid backup plan and it differs from mine, leave some feedback in the comments area. I’d love to hear what you are doing. I’m always looking to improve on my methods for doing things.

photo credit: SarahFranco

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