Here is the scary question.. “Do you backup your data?”. Well do you?
Personally, I’m a backup FREAK. I have backups of my backups. I run into way too many people that come to me asking for help because they lost a site, or server went down, etc. If you’re a affiliate marketer, and you are serious, and this is your life, then you MUST backup.
There are a few basic concepts, and I won’t be pitching out any backup services, since this will need to be dependent on your requirement, the level of security you’re comfortable with, and the extent of backups required.
I break up backups into big logical hunks. I think this might help you identify your needs.
The first hunk would be your production sites. These are your actual web sites, landing pages and database on publicly viewable servers. These are the sites that are making your money. Ideally, we would want a central backup of all your sites, since they may be spread out across multiple servers, etc. I personally use a Linux backup server here at the office that backs up all of my remote production sites to my office. This provides a off-site backup which is important for disaster recovery.
I also backup locally for quick restoration of specific sites or data. I use a combination of local and remote backups for disaster recover and convenience. If you had to choose a single option.. choose offsite backup.
Internal Development Sites
I’m not sure about your situation, but I have lots of sites that are in development locally at my office. Basically sites that I’m currently working on and that are not live yet. I have a similar approach for backing these sites up. I have a local backup server that backs up files and data local to my network, but I also push these files to a remote location that I manage that is out of my office. Again, we need to look at disaster scenarios. My office catches on fire, I need to be able to restore those projects.
Lastly, we need to discuss your business files. These would include your Quickbooks or working operation files as well as reporting spreadsheets, contact, emails, etc. I imagine these are quite valuable so we should back these up locally as well as off site.
I mentioned earlier that I use a Linux server for backups. I use Linux because they’re cheap to maintain (this could be different in your organization) and they have great tools for backups. I use Dirvish for creating incremental backups. Incrementals are nice since I can restore a file days ago. I normally store five weeks of incremental backups for all my production and internal sites as well as all of my business files.
There are backup services that provide off site backup. Mozy comes to mind immediately. This is where your security comfort level comes in. I personally do NOT feel comfortable with the idea of a third party service holding all of my files. That’s not going to fly in my book. What I did for remote backups (for my business and development sites) was create a new backup server which I maintain at a trusted location outside of my office. Files are transferred encrypted, so security is nice and tight.
When dealing with backups, you need to think about automation. You don’t want to initiate backups on your own, you’ll surely forget. I have all of my backups run nightly via a cron job (Linux feature). You can do this with other tools, but I would recommend something that can manage all of your backups on a consistent basis.
For data, I primarily use MySQL, I use a script called AutoMysqlBackup which is great to create data dumps. I then use Dirvish to copy those dumps to local or remote locations. There are some super robust systems, and you can spend some serious dough getting the right one to work for you, but it’s important to have something in place. As for myself, I’m a Linux nerd, so working with cron, dirvish, mysql is just a part of my day-to-day work, so I don’t mind, but the learning curve could be pretty steep if you’re not familiar with Linux.
Backup your files people!