I want to tell you the story of a small business owner—let’s call her Angela—who updated her website and didn’t have WordPress backups in place:
One Saturday after making some edits to her site, she noticed a few things on her home page and sub-pages were no longer working. She spent hours trying to figure it out what was going on, becoming increasingly frustrated as nothing she tried worked, and things continued to deteriorate.
Angela threw in the towel and reached out to her website developer for help. After a few minutes looking around her site, he determined that the issues had been caused by a bug in her theme. Since she was using an older version of the theme and the latest release had included a patch to deal with the bug, there was no way to revert her edits within WordPress. So she would need to restore a WordPress backup.
Angela hadn’t set up her own backups, so they logged into her hosting account to check if one was available there. There was, but when they clicked to restore it, a notice appeared saying it would cost Angela nearly as much as a full year of hosting to access it.
Frustrated, she was faced with a difficult decision: either pony up the money and restore the backup or pay the developer to rebuild her site. Either way, she had just wasted most of her Saturday—and potentially a lot of money.
The moral of this story is this: if you run your business online, it’s crucial that you have reliable, available, and up-to-date WordPress backups that you can easily access and restore at a moment’s notice.
With all that in mind, in this post I’m going to further make the case for why you need to have backups in place for your WordPress site—and how they can save you a ton of money and downtime for your business.
What is a WordPress Backup?
When you have a physical office space or shopfront, it’s only natural that you would take out an insurance policy to protect your business in the event of theft or, worse, fire.
Simply put, a WordPress backup is the single greatest insurance plan any business owner can invest in to protect your website and prevent disaster.
Everyone knows the importance of saving computer files, but not enough website owners take the same precautionary measures to protect their business website.
While the term “WordPress backup” may sound technical, the basic idea behind them isn’t at all complicated. Like saving a computer file, creating a WordPress backup involves saving an entire copy of your site.
With the right tools in place—or leaving it to a WordPress maintenance service to take care of for you—WordPress backups are relatively straightforward to set up and require very little ongoing effort.
Why Your Business Needs WordPress Backups
There are many things—both accidental and intentional—that can destroy all the hard work you’ve invested in your site, including:
- Inadvertently breaking things. Unfortunately, Angela found out the hard way that making a few innocent edits to her site could result in breaking functionality.
- Hackers. It’s easy to take on an it-won’t-happen-to-me approach when it comes to website security, but it’s always best to play it safe. Having a backup ensures your site can be easily restored in the event of an attack.
- Malware and viruses. Hackers routinely target poorly-protected websites and upload malware designed to aid spamming, sending phishing emails, or run Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
- Updates gone wrong. It’s important to keep the software that powers your site up-to-date so you have access to the latest feature and security patches. But sometimes, updates can go awry due to code, plugin, and other conflicts.
- Computer failure. Whether it’s a freak power surge at your web host’s data center, an act of God, or a truck driver hits a utility pole that then crashes into the data center that hosts your site, you should expect the unexpected.
How Much Unexpected Website Downtime Could Cost Your Business
If you don’t have WordPress backups and your business operates exclusively online, every minute that your website is down can be crippling.
Downtime means you can’t do a thing until your site is up and running again. And for your customers or clients, it means you’ve essentially closed up shop and hung a “closed” sign in the door.
If your site goes down, you’re essentially closing up shop.
There are a number of factors that can impact how much website downtime could cost your business, including the size of your company and how much you rely on your website for sales and marketing.
Essentially, there are five primary ways in which downtime can hurt your business:
1. Lost Opportunity and Revenue
If you run an eCommerce store, the volume of your website’s sales can determine how much revenue downtime might cost you. For example, if you average $5,000 in sales per hour, then every minute of downtime would cost you $80 a minute.
Similarly, if your site were to go down during a peak sales period, like Black Friday, this figure would increase dramatically.
Take Amazon, for example. A 63-minute outage on its “Prime” sales day in July this year cost the company nearly $100 million. Retail discount aggregator Lovethesales.com calculated this based on estimated Prime Day sales of $3.4 billion—as projected by Coresight Research—divided by Prime Day’s 36 hours, arriving at $1,574,074 sales per minute. When you multiply this figure by the 63 minutes of downtime, you get $99,166,667 in lost sales.
2. Lost Productivity
Another serious consequence of downtime is lost productivity. If your site goes down, countless hours could be spent trying to resolve the problem, leaving you and your team scrambling to get your site back up while neglecting other important day-to-day tasks.
On the flip side, you might have employees who are unable to complete their work while your site is offline, which means you would be paying them to sit around and wait while your website is being fixed.
3. Damage to Brand Perception
Just as concerning is the potential damage to your reputation. Often, all it takes is one bad experience to spook a customer or prospect into never coming back.
You only ever get one chance at making a first impression. If your site is down when a potential customer visits it, it immediately tells them your business is untrustworthy—even if your site is only down for a couple of minutes.
4. Damage to SEO
Depending on how long your site is offline and how often it happens, it’s possible that downtime could negatively impact your ranking in search.
As former Googler Matt Cutts explains, a one-off downtime event that only lasts an hour probably won’t displace your site rankings. But if your site is offline for days, you’ll see your ranking in Google search drop or disappear from SERPs altogether.
5. Cost to Recover
Businesses often underestimate the costs associated with recovering from downtime. This is because there are several variables and it usually depends on the extent of the outage, what caused it, and what data—if any—was lost.
If you don’t have WordPress backups in place, the costs typically include:
- The wages of employees who are working to resolve the issue.
- The cost of any outside contractors or developers you’ve brought in to help.
- The cost of replacing lost data—including employee wages to recover/replace it, and the money spent creating/collecting it in the first place.
Calculating the Cost of Downtime
When you break it down, the downtime formula:
Downtime = lost opportunity and revenue + lost productivity + damage to brand perception + damage to SEO + cost to recover
When you compare the nominal cost of putting in place WordPress backups (or hiring a WordPress maintenance service) to the losses that you may incur due to unnecessary downtime, it quickly becomes obvious that the cost of WordPress backups is an investment and not just an ordinary business expense.
How to Back Up Your WordPress Site
Now that you understand the importance of having reliable WordPress backups, you might want to consider putting them in place. There are many ways you can go about doing this, but the three primary methods include:
1. Use a Backup Plugin
There are many excellent WordPress backup plugins available that let you schedule automated backups and store your files to a remote location, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon S3.
Some of the most popular and trusted backup plugin solutions for WordPress include:
If you go ahead and set up a plugin on your site, be sure to follow the best practice tips below.
2. Ask Your Web Host
Web hosts usually offer backups, so check with your host to see what’s included in your plan, how often your site is backed up, and how long backups are kept for.
Some hosts don’t include backups for free with their shared hosting plans and make it a paid add-on or ask you to pay for access in an emergency. This is pretty shady. After all, when someone needs to restore a backup, they are usually in a panic and it’s not the time to be holding their data to ransom.
In addition, web hosts will often store backups on the same server as the website. This means that if the server goes down, everything on it is lost.
For these reasons we recommend you have an automated backup solution off-site in place that you are able to quickly access without having to go through your web host.
3. Work with a WordPress Maintenance Service
Backups usually come standard with WordPress maintenance service plans. Here at Barrel Roll, our Advanced plan includes a complete backup of your files and database each week, which we store securely on an off-site server that you can access any time.
On our Premium plan, we provide daily backups and retain up to 30 of them so you have plenty of options for restoration if something goes wrong.
FIVE Best Practice Tips for WordPress Backups
No matter which backup solution you choose, there are five key things you should keep in mind:
- Schedule regular automated backups. It’s easy to forget to run backups manually so make sure yours are automated and set to run regularly. This might be every week, every day, or even multiple times a day depending on your site.
- Save backups to an off-site location. This is an important one. If you save your backups to the same server where your website is hosted, or even the same data center, you run the risk of losing your backup along with your website in case of disaster.
- Save backups to a location that’s always available. Make sure your backups are always accessible and easily available via a reliable service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon. This way, you’re never dependent on a single source like a web host that may suspend your account or even go out of business.
- Regularly check your backups are working. Check, and triple-check, that your backups are actually working, that they include all of the data you need, and that your site is being backed properly. Make sure your storage location has enough space and that your backups work when restored.
- Make sure you know how to restore your backups. There’s no point having backups if you don’t know how to restore them! So familiarize yourself with how to restore your site so if you’re ever in a panic and need to restore a backup you’ll know exactly what to do.
Don’t Worry—Barrel Roll Has Your Back (and Angela’s!)
There’s more to Angela’s story—she ultimately went with a third option: she reached out to Barrel Roll and we fixed her site without having to restore her host’s backup and without her having to pay a developer to rebuild it. She now has a reliable WordPress backup solution in place.
When you join Barrel Roll, WordPress backups are included with all our plans so you can rest assured a copy of your site is always safe, available and on hand to restore in case of emergency.
As we’ve explored in this article, WordPress backups are one of the most important preventative measures you can put in place to protect your online business. So don’t hesitate. Get in touch today if you have any questions at all about backups and how Barrel Roll can help protect your business.
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