Please Support - Ride for the child

Imagine someone broke into your house and stole your laptop and external HD. Besides the fact that you would be very upset – would you have lost more than just physical possessions?

I had a bit of a panic attack when someone said the above to me. My MacBook is my pride and joy and all its folders are really neat and tidy. Everything resides somewhere and I get a lot of satisfaction from making it perfect.

With this in mind the more I thought about this potential theft, the more stupid I felt. If someone were to rob me then I would have lost everything. Thousands and thousands of hours work, not to mention VPS backups, client information, photography, fonts. It’s a pretty extensive list.

If my mac were to break I can get a new one and use the backup from my HD and restore to a previous state. Alternately if my HD broke I still have everything on my mac and I can export it onto a new HD. But losing both things would be catastrophic.

I started to think a little deeper about my server and this is when I really started worrying. My server has weekly backups – so all the databases and sites are backed up every week. The only problem is that these backups are stored on the server! So if my server completely broke I would be well and truly in trouble.

I host around 14 sites and although I would still have the vast majority of the code locally I would have completely lost all the data, emails and anything – including images -that had been uploaded. Safe to say my clients would be absolutely fuming.

This may seem so obvious to most developers but I guess my lack of knowledge meant that it just hadn’t crossed my mind before.

My solution to local files.

Firstly I’ve started using Dropbox properly and purchased 100GB a year for £60 (bargain). So I now ALWAYS work from inside my Dropbox folder locally. Every single thing I create – and needs to be kept safe – now lives in that folder.  Each time I add, edit or delete something from the folder it automatically syncs to the Dropbox cloud and my work will never ever be lost.

My local development sites also run from that folder, so regardless of whether you are using MAMP or XAMPP you can point and work straight from the Dropbox folder.

So now my work is backed up in three separate places, my external HD, MacBook and in Dropbox.

I feel pretty safe with that. Each month I also backup one HD onto another just in case the inevitable happens earlier than predicted. I think HD’s have a 3-year lifespan, a solid state HD would last much longer.

There are some disadvantages to this solution. Firstly each time you change something within the Dropbox folder it syncs. So whilst I’m working the folder is constantly syncing and therefore using up the Internet (This shouldn’t be a problem for those who have good Internet connection and unlimited data).

Secondly is the cost. I don’t think that $10 a month – or £60 per year as I paid – for Dropbox is expensive but some others might. Obviously the more space you need the more expensive your price plan would be, but you should probably be making more money so that compensates for the increase.

My solution to server backup

All mine and my client’s websites live on my VPS server. As previously mentioned my server performs a backup every Sunday night at 12am. Every Monday I take this backup and stick it in my trusty Dropbox folder. I could make this backup more frequent but a week is about right for me. Therefore my worst-case scenario is losing 7 days of data (I can live with that).

My VPS is provided through heart Internet and they offer a ‘snapshot’ service which backs up my server so that it can be restored to a previous backup state. These snapshot backups are stored on an external service and are totally secure.

However at £30 per month they are a tad too expensive for me at the minute.

An update

Since writing this post I contacted Heart Internet to ask them a few more questions about my standard VPS backup. I basically wanted to know what this backup can do and what it consists of.

I was little bit upset to find out that all it really does is save the website files and databases in a zip folder. I can upload these folders in the admin and restore whatever I like.

These backups don’t contain any of the server settings, customer accounts, emails, email settings and much more. So if my server broke then these backups can be used but I would have to go through and make each customer again, add all their emails and sort all their settings.

When I back up my MacBook on its time machine facility it saves absolutely everything. So when I bought my new mac it was restored to exactly the same state as my previous one. The snapshot service that Heart offers does exactly this. So I guess I’m going to have to look at purchasing that in the future to make myself ultra safe. It’s just a shame it’s so expensive.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. You can never be too excessive with backing up your data. As my father always taught me…

It’s better to be safe than sorry.