Friday 30th October 2009

Website Hosting Backups - a Cautionary Tale

Losing your work due to a failed disk drive or software failure can be at best frustrating, and at worst financially damaging.

When it comes to your website, losing website data can be even more distructive. Especially if your website is regularly updated, stores user subscription details, and other regularly changing data. Even a relatively recent backup of your website data can be drastically out of date.

Today, we've been chatting with the owner of a group of successful blogging websites. She'd hosted all her sites on a dedicated server at the ISP of her choice. She had even gone to the trouble making sure that the server had mirrored disks, so that a single disk failure wouldn't result in the loss of the website data.

When undertaking some work on the hosting server during the day today, the web host service engineers appear to have encountered a problem which resulted in all website data being lost from both hard disks.

There was no daily scheduled backup of the website data being run on the hosting server. This meant that the last available backup of the sites was a backup which the owner had made themselves, which was roughly a month old. As these sites were regularly updated blogs and online publications, this meant that an awful lot of content and user data was lost forever.

Until late this afternoon, her ISP was saying that the data was irretrievably lost. Fortunately, it seems that her host is now endeavouring to recover some of the site data. However, some data may never be fully restored.

Remember to ask about daily scheduled backups next time you order web hosting for your website!

Get the full story here.

UPDATE: We've since been told that the host in this story only provides scheduled backups to the same disk, rather than a full scheduled backup to seperate NAS device. Without a proper scheduled backup to seperate NAS device, disk damage would still have resulted in complete data loss.

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