By John Eberhard

A couple things happened to me recently that highlighted the necessity for every website owner to make sure their sites are being backed up regularly.

First, a few weeks ago one of my clients’ web sites was hacked, with all kinds of nasty things done to it. It took some serious time to find all these files that they had added to the site that redirected traffic to some other site selling shoes.

Then, about a week ago, I went to my own web site and found that the home page gave an error message of “Page not found,” and there was nothing on the menu bar. It appeared that my entire site was down.

After an hour and a half on the phone with my hosting company, who was not able to tell me what had happened, I was able to restore my site from a weekly backup file. I had to go into the WordPress database and upload the database file. It was lucky that I had that backup file.

The vast majority of all the websites I design today are in the WordPress format, and WordPress is driven by a database. In other words, when you call up a given page of the website, it pulls all the information for that page from a database. That includes all the information on what the design is, and all the information on the page content, the text, the names and locations of all the picture files, videos, etc.

In the last year or so I have started setting up a backup plugin in all WordPress installs that I do, that does a weekly backup of the WordPress database, then emails that to a special email account I have set up for backups. In this way, if anything happens to one of those sites, I have the backups.

If you have a WordPress site, you should insist that the person who set up the site for you set up a backup plugin. I use one with the imaginative name of “Wordpress Database Backup,” and it works great.

If you have a site that uses some other content management system (CMS) such as Joomla or Drupal, you can set up a similar thing to do regular backups.

If you have an HTML site, you should make arrangements with your hosting company or with a web design company to do regular backups of the site.

We have to remember two things: a) Website files reside on a computer somewhere, and computer hard drives are not infallible and have been known to fail, and b) Hackers are out there with a high level of skill, too much time on their probably unemployed hands, and malicious intentions. And they can get into your web site and cause damage.

The solution to both these things is to do regular backups of your website so you are protected in case anything goes wrong.