Backing up Your Website

I have noticed that some of you are working "live" all or most of the time when working on your website. This is a dangerous situation. What if the server isn’t backed up properly on the hosting end of things? What if you are working "live" and do something to break your site?

Having a backup copy of your work on your website is important whether you are experienced or not. Accidents do happen and all your hard work will be gone or ruined. I recommend working from your computer then uploading the finished product to the webspace.

When building a website I have 3 copies:

  • the working copy on my computer
  • the "live" copy at the web host
  • a backup copy on a removable disk should either my computer or host crash or if I’m experimenting with something and break the site

If you are just learning to do something you might even want to consider 2 working copies, a folder with working perfectly pages and a folder for still experimenting with pages. I’m speaking from experience here. When learning something new you are bound to make mistakes. If you have 2 working copies at least you have a point to go back to where everything worked correctly.

Here’s an example of what I do:

  1. On my computer

    I create a folder for the project on my hard drive. Let’s call it My Site.

    Inside that folder I create other folders:

    • Working Files
      • where I keep all my graphic building files, information collected, any other notes for the website.
      • all my "testing" files until they are the way I want them.
    • A backup copy of my "Live" website
      • just in case I make a mistake and have to redo a page.
      • as a precaution, in case the web hosting goes down and looses my website files.
    • Mysite
      • where I put a copy of all the files that are ready to publish to the web.
    • SEO Research
      • where I keep all my SEO research for this website.

      If you are using a HTML Editor with site management features you could still have a folder set up as above.

  2. "Live" Version

    This is the area where you each will have a different way to do this, depending on how you create your site. Your HTML editor may have a feature for uploading (publishing) your website, your host may permit you to use a FTP software program or if you may have to do this from the web.

  3. On a removable disk

    If this is your first time getting setup you may want to backup your actual website if you already have a live site.

    1. Copy the My Site folder to the removable disk.
    2. Copy the "Live" Version backup to the removable disk.
    3. Label the disk.
    4. Keep it in a safe place.

More Info

Back Up Your Computer

How to Choose a FTP Program

How to Download Files with an FTP Program

How to Upload Files to Another Computer with an FTP Program

FrontPage 2002 Tutorials – How to Backup FrontPage

cPanel User Manual

GZip (.gz) File Information

This tutorial was originally written for the free SEO Training by GNC Web Creations class.

Revised: November 11, 2006

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21 Responses to Backing up Your Website

  1. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    Ideally, you would have access to your web hosting account. This means you can access all the files within your website.

    From the web hosting access, you should be able to download your website using a FTP software program to a folder created on the hard drive of your computer.

    I looked up Snippet Master, and it’s a program the web designer used so you can edit the content portions only of the website. It can be setup so you can edit only the content areas (to save yourself from breaking the website template) or it can be setup so you can edit the whole page (if you have the right kind of privileges).

    My recommendation is to find your web hosting information and then find out how you can FTP the site to your own computer.

    Notepad (or another plain text editor) is what you need to paste coding into. Word is a word processing program, not a plain text editor. It (and other word processing programs) have a tendency to add extra coding which is not required.

    If you need further help, please use our contact page.

  2. Vikki Woods Says:

    Starting from the beginning…I am backing up my website, but confused as to how. I have a folder on my desktop, but when I copy the code from my present site, I paste it into a Word web page. Is this correct?

    i have Snippet Master installed on my site and that is what I have been working with….however, I think I made a major goof.

  3. JCL Says:

    Good advice, reading this got me to thinking. I have a Linux box at home and I love to automate things through scripting. In addition to the backups you mention above, I would like to take a try at getting my Linux box to automatically back up my site nightly or some other interval. Content cannot be recreated!

  4. jeff ZIJA Says:

    For sure great advice for people who dont always think too far ahead, like myself.

    I have on many, i mean many, times made a clients website, and then somehow managed to loose the lot before i have uploaded it or even saved a copy.

    I now use a little software script that ghosts files into another hdd should the worse happen, and on so many times i have been thankful for this.

    It saves around 6 hours of data recovery, and the cost of it.

    So, backing up is key. As said, keep a few as you never know what can happen.

  5. Frontpage Templates Says:

    Very good advice indeed. I find it easy to backup websites on my USB storage device and just keep it in my top front desk. Those things have many GBs of space and using USB 2.0 is fast. My sites don’t take up much space and the backup is quite and easy.

  6. seo hosting web design Says:

    Definitely a good advice. It is good to note that every time you are working for something be sure to have a backup of your files so that whatever worst that will happen, you won’t be sorry. Problems may occur along the way so be prepared.

  7. Ron - Disk Recovery Service Says:

    Many webmasters do forget to backup their sites! It is weird though, because most businesses remember to backup their data, but forget to backup their online storefront. An online backup is actually pretty easy too.

  8. Hire a Geek Says:

    Using a USB storage device for backup can be really useful. It’s portable and if you have meetings with clients, you can easily show them a sample of your website using any computer! ^^

  9. SEO Toronto Says:

    This is great advice and I probably should be doing it more often. I would like to add though that the new windows workspace thing is also a great way to store backup files that way you could also access your files on any computer as well.

  10. Email backup Says:

    I 2nd what Geek says: “Using a USB storage device for backup can be really useful. It’s portable and if you have meetings with clients, you can easily show them a sample of your website using any computer”.
    I have experience the same.

  11. computer tricks Says:

    Backing your code is really very necessary to avoid future problems .nice tips

  12. undelete files Says:

    It is good to note that every time you are working for something be sure to have a backup of your files so that whatever worst that will happen, you won’t be sorry.

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