Backup and Archive your website in preparation of the New Year.
What is the difference between a Backup and a Archive?
A backup is for short term recovery. This means a backup is likely a more current snapshot in time. Often a backup will be done daily/weekly/monthly. You should be able to restore your site from any of these backups. But what happens if the backup is corrupt, or your site is hacked and has been hacked for a while? This is where a Archive comes in. A archive, to me, is a snapshot in time of your site that you are comfortable and capable of starting from.
Example: You have a site or a blog, you do a weekly and monthly backup. You find out that it has been hacked and has hundreds of files that contain malicious code. You can spend all of your time, and possibly a large amount of money cleaning the site up. Or you could restore from a backup, but what if your backup also contains the hacked code? Maybe your site has been hacked for more than a month. Now those backups will likely not do you much good or save you time and ultimately money. A archive is what you will need to restore from. A snapshot in time, where you know your site is clean and functional and can also be rebuilt from. It is a starting point that you are comfortable with. it may not be a ideal situation to have to do, but at least you know you can do it. The alternative is to possibly spend hundreds of hours and maybe thousands of dollars with a developer or systems administrator cleaning up your now hacked site. It is possible that starting from the archive will be the quickest and safest path. If you do decide to restore from a archive, and it is because of a hack, be sure that you update everything and if possible determine how the hack originated. It would not hurt to change passwords and follow standard procedures for dealing with a hack, see episode 7 Web Hosting Podcast.
Backups in cPanel are created using a .tar.gz file format.
What is a .tar.gz file?
The .tar in the filename stands for Tape Archive. The .gz is a compression method known as GZIP. These can be opened with standard Windows, Mac and Linux applications. The first thing it will do is unzip the file, or decompress it. This will then leave a .tar file. This can then be extracted to get the contents of the full archive.
Generating a full backup through cPanel will generate a .tar.gz file in your chosen destination. To do this, login to cPanel and search for backup. This will show you either, backup or backup wizard. If you want a step by step process, use the wizard. If you want specific files then choose backup. They both will ultimately give you the same thing. If you choose to create your backup file in your home directory, be aware that this could take your account over quota and start breaking things rather quickly. Other options for backup destinations are FTP and SCP. You can also choose to download a current near line backup, which will download to the Downloads folder set by your web browser. If you plan to make a archive, be sure to generate a new full backup of your entire home directory. This will include mysql databases, email and your website directories.
Other things that are good to do at the start or end of a year?
Verify your whois data is current. This should be done regularly and is required by domain owners. Whois data is maintained through the company you registered the domain with.
Determine if there are domains that you no longer wish to keep before they are renewed. I find myself over the year purchasing domains for ideas I may have. Some of these ideas never see the light of day and become abandoned. This is a good time to determine if you wish to proceed with keeping these domains and websites going. This can save you a bit of money if you no longer wish to keep them going.
Do you have specific things you do to bring in the New Year for your website? I would love to hear what they are and discuss them on a future podcast episode. Contact me through the contact form.
In our quick tip, autoresponders for email.