This is a continuation of this article
1. Keep backups: I cannot stress the importance of keeping backups of your websites enough! If you have even the slightest regard for your business, you should backup your website's files and databases regularly. I usually have a weekly backup scheduled every Saturday! Additionally, I retain at least one week's backups for each of my site for the purpose of disaster recovery.
If you wish you can even buy remote backup storage from third parties. Good news is that remote backups are usually quite cheap these days.
Whatever you do, DO NOT rely exclusively on your host for data backups; your host may or may not perform regular backups even if they promised the same in their SLA. There is nothing you can do if your host turns the door on you in times of disaster. More importantly, if the host's servers suffer a crash, DDOS attack, or hacking attempt, they may not be in a position to offer you the most recent backups of your site!
Moreover, when you store backups of your sites locally (as well as offsite, if you prefer), you can easily switch between hosting providers without much headache!
If you have a Virtual Private Server or dedicated server, you can configure automatic backups from within your Cpanel/WHM; apart from that, you also have the option to create a custom backup script and set a cron job to run it at specific times, or download backups manually every week like I used to do when I was on a shared hosting account.
Assuming that you have a VPS or dedicated server with full root access, you would first want to get yourself acquainted with Cpanel's in-built scheduled backup tool if you aren’t already:
When I first noticed the backup tool, I was initially stumped as to how to configure it since I was new to it. Finally with the help of my host and Cpanel's support staff I was able to configure it to my liking. Here is a screenshot of my backup settings; depending on your needs and requirements, you might want to set some of these options differently, but at the very least I hope it would help you get a rough idea about the basic configurations!
First you will want to click on the "Configure Backup" link on the left of your WHM:
And then choose the appropriate options:
A clarification: For SQL database backups, I chose "Per Account and Entire MySQL Directory" option so that the system backups up the databases on a "per account" basis as well as makes a lump-sum backup of /var/lib/mysql directory for safety reasons.
IMPORTANT: If you are uploading your website backups or other types of data files to Amazon S3 (which I don’t recommend by the way), be sure to compress the files using WINRAR, WINZIP or similar other file compression utilities before uploading them (the backups generated by Cpanel should be compressed by default, unless you choose to create only incremental backups)!
I have heard that Amazon S3 corrupts data files once you upload them on their servers! If your data is uploaded in "archived" form, you would at least get it back in the original condition or with minimal "corruption". I recommend Winrar over Winzip because the former is much better. Just to give you an idea, unlike WinZip, Winrar won’t corrupt a compressed file even if you're unable to upload/download it fully.
2. DO NOT go too cheap: Finding out ways to save money and cut down on costs is a good thing for sure, but if the quality and reliability of your web server is compromised in the process, you are more likely to lose than gain in the long run. I have noticed people asking for a $10/month or $20/month VPS plans on web hosting forums; such expectations could be anything but realistic!
If you wish to have a stable and reliable VPS, expect to fork out a minimum of $30/month, if not more! There are some ridiculously cheap VPS hosting service providers out there for sure, but except for the odd few, most are not very reliable. These providers offer cheap plans on the assumption that people won’t use up even 5% of their allocated resources.
Either these providers use their hosting plans as loss leaders (whereby you would pay extra for control panel software, tech support, IP addresses, RAM, etc) or believe that this is the only way to survive in the over-competitive market! It is doubtful though whether they earn anything more than the bare minimum needed to keep the servers running.
It is only a matter of time before these providers would either go out of business or oversell their servers, leaving you, the customer, in dust either way! In case you don’t know how server overselling may affect your business, just imagine all your websites loading at a snail's pace or worse, your hosting account being shut down unexpectedly! ;)
Not to mention that cheap hosting plans often tend to attract hackers, DDOS attackers, spammers and their ilk! Remember that the old saying: "you get what you pay for" remains and would always remain true!
3. Don’t signup for a long term contract: Monthly contracts are fine as far as web hosting is concerned, but I won't sign up for any quarterly, bi-annual or annual billing contracts, no matter how much discount and incentive I am offered!
I don’t want to be tied down to one hosting provider forever; well I would like to stick to good hosts but unfortunately as you learnt from my "hosting headache" articles it doesn’t take long for "good hosts" to turn evil! That's why I prefer short-term contracts over long term. Even in case of domain, I neither register nor renew it for a period of more than one year; what if next year I no longer have any use for it! ;)
4. Lastly, it is never good to rely on just one host. After what happened to me this year, I would recommend everyone to buy hosting plans from multiple providers for purpose of redundancy. Even with all the "deep research" you do, you are sure to fall for a "mediocre basket" once in a while! However, if your eggs are spread across several baskets, you would suffer minimal losses just in case one of those baskets happens to be cracked up!
I wish you all the best in your online business endeavors. As always, your comments are welcome!