Most people are pretty good at protecting the physical products in their lives. We put insurance on our cars, cases on our phones, and locks on our bikes. But bloggers live in a world where they also need to protect their digital products. Things like blog posts, eBooks, photos, and videos represent huge investments of time and money. Can you imagine if you woke up tomorrow, typed in the URL of your blog, pressed return, and saw a white screen? Then, in a moment of panic you looked in your computer’s photos folder, only to find that your pictures were missing as well. It’s rare, but it happens. Hence the reason for backing things up.
Most people have a general concept of backing up, but I’ve found that more often than not people haven’t thoroughly backed up their computer and their blog. If you’re a full-time blogger (or wanting to become one), then it’s vital that you have your business (i.e. your computer and your blog) properly protected.
Here are four ways you should be backing up your computer and your blog.
1. Computer to external hard drive
All computer hard drives will eventually fail. It’s not a matter of if, but when. That’s why you need to make sure to have a backup that runs from your computer to an external hard drive. That way, when your computer’s hard drive fails you’ll have all of your important files ready to be restored.
You’ll need two things in order to set this up.
- An external hard drive.
- Backup software that runs on your computer.
The external hard drive should be two times the size of your computer’s hard drive. This gives you plenty of space to keep multiple versions of the backup. For instance, if you have a 1TB hard drive then you should buy a 2TB external hard drive. I use these hard drives from a company called Other World Computing.
My external hard drive sits to the right of my monitor (next to my computer mouse (and stuffed animal mouse)):
Both Windows and Apple computers come with backup software already installed. Windows calls their program Backup and Restore and Apple calls their program Time Machine. After purchasing your external hard drive you should read through the instructions provided by Windows or Apple to make sure that you correctly setup the software to backup to the external hard drive.
2. Computer to cloud
The computer to external hard drive backup offers a way to quickly and easily access your files if your computer’s hard drive dies. But what happens if someone steals your computer and your external hard drive? If you don’t have a computer to cloud backup then all of your data will be gone forever.
Nerd Note: “The cloud” is really just a group of off-site computers. So, when we say “the cloud” we’re talking about working with a company that has a room full of computers (servers and hard drives) where your information is securely stored.
With a computer to cloud backup you install a program that periodically scans your computer and backs up any new files or files that have been updated. Cloud based backup programs come at a cost, but it’s well worth it. We use (and love) CrashPlan, but another popular cloud based backup solution is Carbonite.
Here’s a screenshot of the CrashPlan menu bar icon and what it looks like when the backup is running:
After you sign up for CrashPlan or Carbonite you’ll need to install the software on your computer. These are both “set it and forget” type programs, so after setting them up you can rest in peace knowing that your computer will be constantly backing up to the cloud.
3. Blog to cloud
Think of the time and energy you’ve put into building your blog. I’m guessing it’s hundreds and hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of hours. The scary thing is that blogs are fragile structures. One line of bad code can cause your entire site to go completely blank. Not only can a coding mistake cause your site to crash, but there’s also the reality that hackers are consistently trying to maneuver their way into your site. If your blog crashes or gets messed up then you’ll need backups to get it running again. It’s important for these backups to be stored with a third party company, not the same company that hosts your website. There are stories of people losing their website and backups because they were stored in the same place. You don’t want to be one of those people, so make sure your backups are not with your hosting company.
There are different backup options available, but I’d recommend using a plugin that you pay for. We use (and love) a plugin called VaultPress (for WordPress). It’s actually created by the same company that created WordPress. The entry level plan is $5/month. If you’re a Food Blogger Pro member be sure to go through the VaultPress course to learn everything you need to know about setting up VaultPress.
Here’s a screenshot of the “real time” backups running on Pinch of Yum:
4. Blog to computer
Okay. I’ll admit it. This one is a bit obsessive. Occasionally (about once a week) I’ll download a complete backup of the blog and store it locally on my computer. The only time that this would be needed would be if someone with bad intentions was able to get access to the blog and VaultPress and wipe them both out. The chances of this happening are really slim, but, as we’ve learned before, stuff like this happens.
The process is really easy. If you use VaultPress you just need to login to your account and click the “Download” button.
VaultPress will prepare your backup and then email you once it’s ready to download. After downloading the backup you can store it on your computer in a folder called “Blog Backup” or something similar. The download process is covered in the Using the download button lesson in the FBP VaultPress course.
If you’ve implemented these four backup processes then you can rest easy knowing that your computer and your blog are thoroughly backed up. Congrats! 🙂