Whether you work with multiple server machines or simply a single laptop, there are many reasons why you should carefully consider what you need in a robust cloud backup solution.

When choosing a provider to host your website or server data with, one key feature to keep in mind is the type of backup service they offer. Many providers advertise backups as part of their hosting packages, but these can sometimes lack the flexibility you might need for your projects. What should you look out for when choosing a backup service, and why is it so important?

Why back up your server?

While nobody likes to admit it, human error is one of the most common causes of data loss. Whether an experienced server administrator or a novice, almost everybody has had that feeling of 'where did that file go?' Choosing the wrong file to delete or edit can be catastrophic to the data or functionality of your website.

Software updates occur at every stage of the website process, whether it’s the framework or control panel. When large updates are introduced, it's common for things to go wrong when trying to migrate the data or change settings. That’s why it’s so important to have up-to-date backups of your data.

The constant threat of cyberattacks is also worth bearing in mind. With malware becoming more and more advanced, having a backup on hand if your website is infected is the most straightforward way to restore your clean data.

What comes with an online backup service?

It's worth looking closely at what is included in your web hosting package. Many hosting companies will advertise free daily or weekly backups as being included in the price, which seems like it would be adequate. However, there are limitations to these offerings, so you might want to look more closely at the terms and conditions.

For their protection, not yours

Almost all reputable hosting providers will be creating some form of backup of their server, so there's no need to worry about something happening outside of your control, such as a physical server being damaged. These backups typically will cover a whole server at once, allowing the provider to recover data lost through extraneous circumstances on their end.

The issue with these is that if a specific customer on a shared server space was to request that their data be recovered, it would not be possible without rolling back the entire server for all customers. The provider would therefore not be able to do this due to the disruption it would cause other users on the same server.

Not catered to the customer

This is not the case for all providers – some do offer customer-specific backups as part of their hosting or server packages. However, these can be just as difficult to recover. As you can't necessarily decide what time of day the backup is taken, or how much of the data should be included, free backup solutions do not offer the levels of flexibility required. Often, the most recent backup also overwrites the previous backups, so if you need to restore from two weeks ago you could be out of luck.

In addition, if you do end up needing to recover a backup, you might find that it's a more tedious process than you'd expect. Your provider may require you to call their customer support to manually recover a backup, which costs you valuable time. Considering your website may be down for customers while you're waiting to restore a backup, this time can be critical.

An effective server backup solution

Despite being something widely seen as essential, the offerings given by many hosting providers do not allow for effective backups to be taken and restored. So it’s worth investing in a reliable solution to give you control over your backups. While this comes at an extra cost, the potential costs to your business by not having a dependable service in place could be far larger.