So you have spent hundreds or thousands of pounds having a professional agency design your perfect website. You have bought an appropriate hosting package with backups. Have you done enough to ensure your valuable data is preserved in all eventualities.
Watch this video about Toy Story (not a true story of course but the lesson is there) and then read on for some Backups Best Practice.
Here at BigWetFish we do take steps to ensure the integrity of your data but we never make any guarantees about data or backups as indicated in our terms of service. That said we believe the actions we take and some additional actions you can take will help ensure your data is always there should disaster happen.
Drive Health Monitoring / RAID Array Monitoring
Hard Drives have a SMART health feature that give an indication of the health of a disk drive. Where we see a drive starting to show signs of failure our monitoring system picks this up and we replace the drive right away.
RAID Arrays to ensure redundancy
All our servers are on RAID arrays. Put simply this means we have more hard drives in the servers than are actually needed and data is mirrored across more than 1 drive. This means that when a drive fails in most cases we hot swap it and the array rebuilds with no downtime and no data loss.
Monthly Backup Checks
A member of staff in our office will manually inspect each backup server / drive once per month to visually check the date stamp of the latest backup. This is an extra line of defence against backups failing and the notification not alerting us.
Backup to separate drives – Shared/ Reseller Hosting
Our shared hosting servers back up daily to a separate hard drive meaning should the main array fail and there is data loss we have a copy of the data on a separate drive ready to restore. We work this on the law of probabilities. It is highly unlikely that the main array would fail and at the same time the backup drive would fail. That said we do not offer any guarantees.
Backup to our Backup Cluster – Business and VPS Servers
Clients on our Business platform and those who have a VPS server with a backup option will have their data backed up to our backup cluster. This is a server cluster with over 100TB available storage in RAID6 for added redundancy and reliability. Again we never guarantee backups but the theory is that it is VERY unlikely that an array in a server would fail at the same time as the array in the backup cluster.
So what can you do as a client?
Read this from our terms of service:
“Big Wet Fish Ltd takes steps to maintain system integrity. However, Big Wet Fish Ltd shall not be held responsible for loss of data due to any cause. To ensure the highest level of data protection, Big Wet Fish Ltd recommends that ALL information be backed up on your own computer. As with any data that you hold a high importance to, it should be in more than one location at all times.”
cPanel makes it very easy to take your own backups, download them and store them locally. The process is outlined below:
- Log into cPanel
- Click the Backups link under the Files sub section
- Click the option to download it generate a full website backup
- Choose ‘Home Directory’ as the backup destination
- Click on the Generate Backup option
- Go away (grab that much needed coffee) and come back in some time and refresh the page – you will now see the backup available to download
- Download the backup to your local machine and keep it safe
Important Points to Note
If you choose to store the backup in your ‘home’ directory you will need to make sure you delete it from the server after you download it. It may not be an issue storing a few of them but your space will quickly fill up if you do not delete them. Simply use the ‘File Manager’ option in cPanel to browse to /home where you can find the backup file and delete it. Remember in cPanel file manager to empty the trash after you delete it as well to completely free up the space.
The backups are stored in a .tar.gz format. This is a compressed file that contains all your files, emails and databases. If you want to confirm it has worked correctly you can use Winrar on a PC or just unpack it on a mac and you can view all your files and databases.
The backup in .tar.gz format can be used to restore your complete site to any cPanel based server anywhere in the world. This gives you peace of mind meaning your site is safe and can quickly be restored.
Special Backup Requirements
We regularly work with some of our clients to implement some customised backup scripts and solutions. We have technicians on staff fully trained in Linux Scripting and if you have a need for something a little different then do not hesitate to talk to us and we can get you some costs for your backup needs. One client for instance who sells tickets on line 24/7 needs backups every few hours of a database and we have a process in place to ensure that happens
Enterprise Grade Backups
Through our partnership with IDERA R1Soft we can also offer licenses for R1Soft which is a well known and highly respected backup platform. It is fully flexible in its configuration and you can use that to set retention and restore points as needed. It also has the added benefit of ‘bare metal restore’ feature for our dedicated server clients giving peace of mind they can restore quickly in the event of any hardware issues resulting in data loss.
Rsync is a standard linux feature that is a very efficient way of backing up data. Many VPS clients have this setup implemented on their Cpanel Servers The first time the backup runs it copies everything. The second, third and all subsequent times the script runs it only backs up data that has changed so it is very efficient in terms of bandwidth. Currently we partner with CP Remote for Rsync Backups and we implement their script on client servers.