Scenario. A business, governmental organization or non-profit turns to us to make some overdue updates to their Drupal website. Over time, they call upon us to further enhance it. They ask about how the website could support more strategic initiatives for the organization. As if a light bulb goes off, all of a sudden, they are frantically asking about backups. And, wait! If we had to restore from a backup, do we know if that will work?
Our clients typically have a wide variety of websites. Many of these assets are hosted on inexpensive, shared hosting. The higher volume sites could be on dedicated hosts, managed Virtual Private Servers (VPS's) or completely unmanaged hosts like AWS (Amazon Web Services).
Many shared hosting packages and managed hosting packages include short term backups, but you will definitely want to check on their backup policy. They might keep backups for only the last 5 to 7 days. Additionally, you may also want to know the procedure for restoring from their backups. With some economy shared hosting, the process to restore from a backup can be bureaucratic and slow. If your website is down and you need it restored as soon as possible, any delay might translate into lost sales or leads.
Roll Your Own
With unmanaged hosting, it's up to you to handle the underlying software updates along with the backups. Some unmanaged hosting packages provide utilities to help you perform backups, but the storage and monitoring come at a cost. You could potentially use a service like Amazon S3 or Glacier for inexpensive storage.
Off Site and Long Term
We rely on hosting backups when we can. We've found that our clients universally want to have backups restored ASAP and they want to potentially restore backups from further back in time than the last several days. Over time, we have developed the following backup/restore process for our support customers. Once we have it in place, there is no charge to our active support clients.
Every Sunday, an automated job compresses and copies down all of the source code, files and databases for the client's production site. This backup is stored in our Colorado Springs office. This drive is also automatically backed up to another drive. (Yes, a backup to our backup.)
When Monarch Digital supports a site, we often point an automatic monitor to alert us if the production site is not responding correctly. In most cases, we can remedy any problems without restoring from backups. If we must resort to a restore, we can usually get a site restored more quickly than relying on a hosting solution alone.
For most organizations, we retain these weekly backups for 1 month. Some transactional, e-commerce sites need to recreate their sites exactly as they were even further back in time. For these sites, we have stored everything needed to recreate the site weekly for over a year.
Just because we support so many Drupal sites, we have developed what we feel are best practices in providing the kind of web site support that we would like to have. Call or email us if you'd like to learn more.