Every day, new online services and tools are launched that elicit oohs and aahs from us and we scrabble to sign up. It would appear that the pace of online applications being released is higher than the development of desktop applications at times :).
We're increasingly seeing a shift away from data being
created and stored on our own systems, then published up, in favor of it all being
created and stored on our web host's server, ASP (application service provider) or SAAS (Software As A Service) provider.
If you're using an ASP, do you export your data files regularly? It's very wise to. Most will allow for exporting to a format which can be easily imported into other applications. If not, at the very least you should be able to retrieve crucial information relating to your clients.
It's important minimize the level of reliance your business has on these services wherever possible; or at least to protect yourself from the possible negative ramifications.
Ask yourself this question - what would happen if the ASP or your web host suddenly
vanished or decided to get just plain nasty. Would you be somewhat inconvenienced, or
totally wiped out?
Backing up MySQL databases
If you're not sure on how to back up a MySQL database, there's usually three options for doing so; some of them depending on your web host's setup.
The first backup option is through the application itself - some will include this functionality; but if you have a large database, it's often not a reliable method.
Assuming you are hosted on a Unix/Linux/FreeBSD type platform, the second option is via phpMyAdmin; a GUI application used to administer MySQL databases. Again, for large databases it can be somewhat unreliable. Ask your web host if you have access to this.
The most reliable option for backing up a MySQL database is via a command line interface, either through telnet or SSH. SSH is preferable as it's a secure form of Telnet. Again, you'll need to ask your web host for availability/access details. You can download a free SSH client (software for connecting ) called PuTTY here.
Once you've accessed your account via SSH, here's how to back up your MySQL database using the mysqldump command. Type the following on a single line:
mysqldump -u [uname] -p [pword] [dbname] > [backup.sql]Where:
[uname] - is your database username
Be sure to leave out the brackets "" when inserting your values. If you have trouble with that, try this slight variation:
mysqldump -u [uname] -p --databases [dbname] > backup.sql
The database backup file will then be created which you can then download via FTP. If you need to restore your database at any time; upload the backup via FTP, SSH in to the directory where the uploaded backup is and run this:
mysql -u [uname] -p database < [backup.sql]
If your web hosting service provides no easy option for you to back up your MySQL databases, then it's time to find another web host.
Backing up your file base via SSH
If you don't have a copy of all your site files on your system, sometimes FTP isn't a great way to go for backing up your filebase, especially if you have a huge site.
If you have SSH/Telnet access and you're hosted on a *nix type server, you can use the following to create a compressed archive of your site.
tar -cvf archive.tar directory/
Where archive.tar is the name you wish to give to the archive file anddirectory/ is the folder you wish to archive. This will also preserve file permissions.
Then, to compress the archive.tar file:
The resulting file would be:
Remember, backing up your file base and backing up your MySQL databases are usually two separate functions.
Store multiple, off-site backups
Once you have backups in place on your own computer (and hopefully your computer is password protected), it's important to also burn copies on to CD/DVD or some other form of removable media - and store them securely off-site. That way, if your computer crashes, your premises is broken into and your computer stolen or destroyed by some other disaster; you'll still have access to your important data.
It's also wise to keep multiple backups - don't just overwrite a previous one; use a fresh CD or thumb drive; just in case your own backup is corrupted you'll have a previous one to restore from.
Another option to add to your backup strategy is to store backups with a provider that specializes in data archiving. One such company is Carbonite - they offer a free 15 day trial of their remote backup service.
It's all about multiple lines of defense.
The onus of backing up is on you
Most web hosts and ASP's will back up your data, and some will have multiple
backups too, but if you check the fine print in your contracts, you'll notice indemnity clauses that will state something along the lines of:
The extra hours you may put into maintaining such a plan will be nothing compared to a scenario where disaster strikes and you lose your valuable data.
In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.
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