While writing this piece my website is creating its latest backup.

It should be needless to say that when managing a website, you should consistently create backups. But for one reason or another, there are those who forget to do this. That should never be the case. With all the free plugins and tools today that automates this process, there is no reason why your website shouldn’t have a backup.

I’ve had a few experiences where this came in very handy.

I was managing this WordPress website before. It wasn’t necessarily a big site, it had about a hundred pages including the blog. The main problem was that the images used for the blog were high resolution so it was quite heavy.

I was hired to take care of the site after it has been running for quite some time already. So in the first week of managing it, I checked the security setup, user access, and other common things to look at from a business continuity standpoint. There were a few lapses but the biggest one was the backup; there was essentially none!

The only thing I had which resembled a backup was a staging site created more than a year ago. Needless to say all those updates from that point would be wasted if I had to restore using this backup. So, I went to work.

One of my favorite plugins to use for backup and even migration is Updraft Plus. It is easy to use and it has different options for remote storage. You can even set certain parameters for the backups which is very useful.

Then, since there was already a staging site, I decided to replicate it one more time. The server could handle it anyway. I did all the updates I was hired to do which included creating new sections for the website and other features. I then created the second staging site after.

Once all of those are done, I decided to update the WordPress software (it was running a very old version) then one by one update the plugins. I did not touch the themes because it was using a custom child theme.

This is where my mistake comes in. I did not notice that I accidentally left the auto-updates turned on after doing that. The next day, I found the site in shambles. The content was there, the functionalities were there, but the theme and layout looked messed up. I decided to use Updraft to restore the original backup. I was surprised that it did not work. Apparently, there were some issues with the files and pathways. Not sure really what happened there.

Since it was apparent that the issue involved the theme and content files, I went to the folder of the staging site I created and copied them over. I refreshed everything and checked the plugins. They were all deactivated as expected. This allowed me to reactivate the plugins one by one until everything was fixed.

For me there are several lessons here:

  1. Always make sure the auto-update is turned off. This has been a lesson I’ve learned since the beginning and this incident reinforced that. When I do updates, I normally do them one by one then check to see if it has affected the site.
  2. Do not feel safe with one backup. Have multiple ones and store them in different locations if possible.

So there you have it. ALWAYS BACKUP YOUR WEBSITE. And if you aren’t sure how to do this or need help with your website maintenance, you can always contact me.