Considerations for Website Backup


In our last post we discussed the need to backup your website. Backup of your site is very important and implementing a complete and thorough backup strategy requires expertise and effort to setup and configure. 

As promised we would like to cover some important issues we consider when implementing our backup strategy as well as include some specifics regarding the backup process we follow for customers using our hosting plan.

One backup is no backup. Many seasoned IT professionals believe if you have only a singular backup you may as well have no backup. This is because when the time comes to restore that backup the computer gods will dictate that there is some kind of issue preventing you from restoring your only backup. If you have another backup copy the computer gods will look more favorably upon you. We say this somewhat facetiously but believe me when I tell you this is absolutely going to be the case often enough that you will want to have more than one backup.

Backups by web hosting provider. Some popular web hosting providers such as SiteGround automatically configure a backup with a few days of retention. These backups often can only be restored on their servers and are therefore not portable to another system. If the hosting account is compromised these backups may be removed by the hacker.  In our opinion these backups should be considered your 3rd backup or restore option and nothing more.

Backup to the cloud. Many if not most backup solutions involve writing a backup to the web server local storage. This backup may not be available if that server itself is compromised or fails entirely. At least one set of backups should be written to another location separate from the server itself such as Amazon S3.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO). Determine how often the site needs to be backed up and configure your backups accordingly. An easy way to summarize RPO is the smaller the window of time is which is acceptable for data loss (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, etc.) the higher the cost to implement and store the backups.

Backup Retention. The retention or number of backups you store will dictate how far back in terms of time you can go to restore your site. The further back you want to be able to recover your website will increase the number of backups requiring storage and the space required to store those backups.  The more storage you use, the higher the associated cost.

Multiple backups using different software of the same site. As we discussed we believe in having more than one backup of a site. But we also believe there is some value in having two sets of backups each created by different software and then stored in different locations. B-Web Services stores backups of all customer sites in buckets on AWS S3 object storage. Here are specifics as to how we implement this service:

  • We use backup software on the server which pushes the site backup to a AWS S3 storage bucket dedicated for use by that particular site. Because the AWS keys are stored on the server each customer website has a unique access key and an associated policy which provides permissions to write to the folder or bucket in which we are storing that website’s backups. The policy for that programmatic user does not provide delete permissions on that folder. This way unauthorized access to your website and/or possession of the AWS keys used by the backup software to create the backups will not give that person permissions to delete the backups. We use a lifecycle rule to expire and/or automatically delete backups after 14 days in most cases.

  • Then we use different backup software hosted on another server which pulls the backup of each website and then writes that backup to a different bucket in a different AWS account. The AWS access key for that software which is different from the key used for the first backup is not exposed to the site with this configuration.

Monitor backup jobs. All of this is for not if your backup has been failing to execute for any reason. Daily monitoring is essential to the success of your backup strategy.

The summary is for customers using B-Web Services to host their website each site has 3 nightly backups, using 3 different pieces of backup software, each stored on 3 different locations and all of which with a 14 day retention. Included is the implementation and management of the backup strategy, cloud storage and monitoring of the daily backup jobs is actively managed each and every day. 

If this is a service from which you feel your company would benefit, please contact us today.