Backing Up A Website

Teli Adlam —  November 23, 2005

Adriana asked a very good question in the comments on the previous post – how exactly does a webmaster back up his website?

One Click Backup
Some hosts provide one click back ups which will allow you to download the entire site including any databases, mailing lists, emails, logs, etc. in .zip or .tar.gz format.

These back ups can generally be accessed with WinZip or another zip utility, but in most instances you won’t need to unzip them. If you want to restore a back up, you should be able to upload it and restore it from the cPanel.

If your host doesn’t provide you with one click back up or another form of back up capabilities from the control panel, the next best option is FTP. You can simply create a new folder and download all the files to your computer.

When naming your back up folder, it’s important to include what website is being backed up and the date of the back up for future reference – something like ‘date-sitename-backup’.

If you need to back up your databases, you can easily do that using phpMyAdmin if your host provides it.

  1. Log in to phpMyAdmin, but don’t select a particular database from the drop down menu
  2. Instead, click on the ‘Export’ link
    Click Export Link
  3. In the ‘Export’ box in the upper left corner, select all the databases you wish to back up (you can use to ‘Select All’ link to quickly choose all your databases)
  4. Place a check mark next to ‘Save as file’ and click on ‘Go’
    Save As File
  5. A download window should pop up asking you where you’d like to save the file, choose a location, rename the file to something suitable and click OK.
  6. If your database is large, it may be a good idea to save each of the databases individually – saving it as above will save them all in one file which means you’ll need to separate them if you don’t want to restore them all at the same time.

There are a number of other ways to back up a website, such as with software, but this is a method I commonly use to back up my own and my clients’ websites.

Once you’ve downloaded your backed up files, it’s important to store a copy someplace other than your computer – hard drives fail. You can store it on a removable hard drive. If you think that would be overkill, burn the backups to a CD and keep it in a waterproof/fireproof safe along with a master list of your passwords.

If you have any tips or if there’s another method you use to back up your website, please feel free to share.

Teli Adlam

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11 responses to Backing Up A Website

  1. Beautiful! Thank you Teli: you are so thorough, and the screen shots are very helpful.

    I have a question: if I backup my site with the one click method, can I then install that backup to another host? Or is it specific to each host?

    Adriana

  2. Hi Adriana,

    I’ll try to answer that. It’s not host specific (unless it’s a proprietary backup), but it is “type of server” specific.

    If you backup on a Cpanel server, you should be able to install the backup to another Cpanel server at a different host without too much trouble.

    But if you backup on Cpanel, and try to reinstall to, for example, Ensim, you may run into problems, because the system directory structures are different. Those can often be worked around with .htaccess and mod_rewrite, but it may not be easy.

    I only recommend Cpanel hosting by the way. It has a few problems, as do all control panels, but I think Cpanel is the easiest and most intuitive control panel available.

    Jeff

  3. Hey Teli …

    Now THAT was a useful blog-post!

    We all need reminders to do back-ups,
    before the avenging avatar of computer
    failures, (Vishnu-Shiva-BillGates)
    reminds us via thunderbolt from the blue.

    I also appreciate what Jeff said
    about ease of restoring a cpanel site.

    Thanks all…

    Jim

  4. Let me add a couple more things here:

    “If your host doesn’t provide you with one click back up or another form of back up capabilities from the control panel…”

    I’d suggest that you find a new host if this is the case. Not providing a backup option is unacceptable in today’s environment.

    Also, when you click on the Cpanel Backup icon shown in Teli’s post, you’ll be taken to another screen. At the very top of that screen, in tiny font, is:

    Generate/Download a Full Backup

    If you click on that, you will generate a FULL backup of the domain in question, includes email, all files, all MySQL databases, etc., in one file. There is no need for a separate database backup from PHPMyAdmin in this case. The backup file will be placed into the FTP root directory (not the public_html web root), and you can download it easily with FTP .

    Jeff

  5. You can also check out this new software I found recently that can help you automated the backup process in Cpanel. This backup software makes it easy to do my backup tasks.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.cpsitesaver.com

    Hope this helps your visitors.

    Jahn

  6. Hi,

    I had a very strange problem that after backing up my sql, I wasn’t able to restore it, although the mysql was newer, someone has any idea?

  7. Another program you can use to automate backups of cPanel websites is Site Backup CP: http://www.tech-pro.net/site-backup-cp.html . It’s easy to use, has a clean and simple user interface, and backups can be run automatically using the Windows Task Scheduler.

  8. I agree with the necessity of backing up your files. You could set up cron jobs to back up to a remote FTP service. There are plenty of free solutions available.

  9. I have some problem with backup my website …. how can I set up cron jobs to backup every weekend my site.

  10. Hi Teli

    I find your cpanel backup tutorial very helpful.

    One lesson I’ve learned not to long ago in just how important backups are – Few months ago our web host SiteFusion3000 has gone out of business – Our site along with the contents vanished of the Internet. We had to recreate the whole thing all over again and waste 5 weeks and almost 3k on rebuilding from scrach. I highly recommend using an automated backup solution to stay safe. Or at least do periodical backups. We use http://www.websitebackup.ca for mirroring our website on weekly basis. If you are running a web based business you should always make sure you have a backup – I do not count on your web host staying in business.

    Carson

  11. Teli thanks for the great article. I know it’s been a while since you posted this, almost 5 years gulp! But the content is still very much revelant.

    Can you provide any insight to new backup methods, especially for those of us who do not use cpanel.

    I’ve tried numerous methods including wget, site-vault software, Rsync technology and now I’m looking at a new web based service due to come out called SitePlanB.

    I’m looking for something that’s simple, gets all my web files and mysql databases and that can be automated. File versioning would definitely be a plus.

    Thanks in advance for suggestions. – Jen