A Note on Backups

I have been without Internet access at home/work for the past 7 days. After calls to my ISP over the course of the week, technicians have been called out and they have been working on the issue today. As I write this I am hopeful that service will be restored before the weekend begins, and that I’ll be able to publish this post I am writing now. It’s really been a perfect storm of issues that has caused this long outage, and when I lost service last week I never would have imagined that I would be disconnected this long. Needless to say I can’t wait to be back online!

So what’s the point of blogging about this? As I put the loss of Internet service in perspective, I considered what it has cost me, and what it hasn’t. I’ve certainly lost quite a bit of productivity over the course of the week, but at the same time I haven’t actually lost any work. My computer didn’t crash, my hard drive didn’t fail, and my web server didn’t go down or lose my website files. But what if one of those things did happen?

Let’s consider the chance of a major issue with your hosting server -- where all of your website files are published. Your hosting provider has an issue with the server, which takes your website offline, and the end result is actual data loss. Your website files have been permanently lost due to a hardware failure. This is bad news, but the goods news is that you built your website with RapidWeaver, and since RapidWeaver is a desktop application, your project file serves as a backup of your entire website. As soon as your hosting provider gets the server back up and running, you simply re-publish your website and things are back to normal.

This is a rarely considered strength of using RapidWeaver over an online CMS such as Wordpress. Your work is done and saved locally on your computer, so you don’t have to depend on the reliability of a machine somewhere else to keep your files safe. So you are secure with a backup of your website on your own computer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be making back-ups yourself. If your project file(s) only exist on one hard drive, you should have an additional drive to backup to, or at the very least a USB flash drive. Ideally you have a second drive with Time Machine configured to make regular backups automatically. The outstanding PlusKit plugin also has a backup feature that you can use to make backups of your project file as you work. You can never be too careful, and so a combination of automatic and manual methods might be a good idea.

Finally, if you manage assets of your website directly via FTP (a.k.a. warehousing), then you will want to make manual backups of those files and folders by downloading them to your computer. Since you are managing these outside of RapidWeaver, you don’t have the safety of them being included in your project file. You likely have the files locally on your computer anyway, but in case of emergency it would be helpful to have all of those files together in a folder that is an exact duplicate of the folder of assets you had published on your server.
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