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Your website is an important part of your company, so it needs to be operational at all times. One of the most effective ways to ensure your site is up as much as possible is to make sure your website data is backed up safely on a regular basis.

This makes it so if you delete files accidentally or the hardware your site is hosted on has problems, you can restore it and be back online right away. To make sure your site is safe, you want to make sure you have a good web hosting backup policy in place.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your web host’s backup policy ensures your data is safe in case of accidents or hardware failures.
  • A backup policy should have two main components: Incremental filesystem backup options and off-site backup options.

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image of a server room
Source: A2 Hosting

What Is a Web Hosting Backup Policy?

A web hosting backup policy is what your hosting company offers to customers for backing up their data.

While web hosting companies generally use great hardware to host your sites, it’s always possible that something could go wrong. It’s also possible that you could delete files accidentally or make changes you don’t like and want to have restored to the original version.

If your hosting provider has a good backup policy, this can be done in seconds. If they don’t, you can lose all of your hosting data that was on their servers, which could be devastating.

Why Is the Backup Policy Important?

If your site is lost for any reason, you can have it restored and running in minutes if it’s backed up properly. Having your website data backed up on a regular basis means you don’t need to worry about mistakes, hardware failures, or even issues with hacking.

While you hope that you never need to use it, the backup services are what ensure your website data is protected at all times. Technically, it’s possible to download the data from your website to a local server that you own, but that’s a lot of work, and quite difficult.

If you care at all about your website data, you want to make sure that the hosting provider that you choose offers a good backup policy.

Are There Different Types of Backups and Policies?

Most hosting companies offer some combination of these backup technologies:

  • Full server backup: A full server backup takes all of the data on your server and backs it up to a separate location to ensure it’s safe. This includes your content management system, your database, your images, and everything else on your hosting account.
  • Incremental filesystem backups: An incremental filesystem backup takes only files that have changed from the last backup and stores those on another system. This option can start with either a full server backup or it can be used just for files or databases.
  • Database-only backup: This is where only the database for your website is backed up. Generally, the database is where the things you post are stored, which should include blog posts, images, and more.
  • On-site data backup: Some hosting companies have the backup data stored on-site at their main data center. It’s on a separate physical device from your website but within the same facility.
  • Off-site data backup: When a hosting company stores your backup data at a separate facility. They may store it at a separate data center that they operate, or more often, they have a data storage service at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or another cloud services company to take care of the storage.

While the majority of web hosting providers offer some type of backup services, they aren’t all the same. There are several different types of backup policies that you can use.

What Should Be in the Backup Policy?

  • Incremental filesystem backup option
  • Off-site data backup option

Finding a hosting company that has the right backup policy for you can be a challenge. Not all websites need the same types of backups. If you plan on publishing your website once and then letting it sit there without new content or changes being made, you only need a one-time full site backup.

This ensures your site can be restored should something ever happen. If you do eventually make an update to your site, you can run a new full server backup, so the new data is protected.

Incremental Filesystem Backup Option

If, however, you plan on regularly updating your website or publishing new content, you want to have a backup policy that runs frequently. This usually means getting one with an incremental filesystem backup option. You can then configure it to run every night, or at whatever frequency makes sense for you.

Whether you choose to go with a hosting company that has on-site data storage or off-site is going to depend on how valuable the data is for your site, and how critical it’s that you can restore it quickly.

Off-site Data Backup Option

On-site data backup is more than sufficient for the vast majority of sites. It’s extraordinarily rare that a full data center would experience a problem that would damage the backed-up information.

That being said, if you want to be certain that your data is as safe as possible, having an off-site data storage option is the way to go.

Which Hosting Companies Offer a Backup Policy?

A few of the top-rated web hosting companies on that list, which offer great backup policies, include:

  • Bluehost: Bluehost is one of the largest and best overall hosting providers for websites around the world.
  • SiteGround: SiteGround is a great web hosting company, and offers exceptional customer service, making them great for anyone who wants to ensure they can get help when they need it.
  • GreenGeeks: GreenGeeks is a top-rated hosting provider that’s also passionate about being environmentally friendly.
  • A2 Hosting: A2 Hosting offers extremely fast hosting services for most types of websites.
  • Dreamhost: Dreamhost is a great option for just about any type of website, but they’re especially well-suited for shared hosting packages.

Most hosting companies today offer at least some type of backup policy. Some of them manage the backup schedule for you, and others have you do it on your own. Either option is fine, as long as you know what you’re getting.

The only thing you want to make sure to avoid is a hosting provider that doesn’t offer any type of backup services at all or one that has extreme limitations on what they backup.

If you aren’t sure which one to choose, you can read through our list of the best web hosting providers, which we’re evaluating and updating constantly to ensure it’s accurate.

laptop and cloud illustration
Source: Dreamhost

What Should You Do Next?

You want to make sure you choose a hosting provider that offers a good one. If you’re looking to start a new website, browse through the best hosting providers to find which one has all the great features you need.

If you already have a website, check to see what their backup policy is. If it isn’t what you need, learn how to transfer an existing website to a new host so that you can have the protection you need.