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What are Snapshot Backups?

Losing website data can be devastating, not just to your site, but to your entire business. Don't get stuck rebuilding everything from scratch. Look for snapshot backups from your hosting provider.

Why Are Backups So Important?

A backup is a copy of your website's data which can be used to restore your website in case the original data is destroyed or deleted.

The prospect of your website completely disappearing may seem to be a remote possibility, and it's true that many people never have a need to restore their websites from backup. However, the risk of losing your site to hackers, user error, data corruption, or even a natural disaster certainly exists. With as much work as it takes to build a website, and as important as a site is to your online business, backing up your data is essential.

There are many different types of backups and backup tools available for websites. Some qualities to look for in backups include:

  • Onsite or offsite backups: An onsite backup is stored in the same location as the original data. A web hosting company, for example, may run their own backups and store them on the same server or in the same data center. Offsite backups, on the other hand, are stored in a separate location from the original data.
  • Full or incremental backups: A full backup, as the name suggests, is a complete backup of everything that makes up your website: files, databases, emails, settings, etc. An incremental backup only backs up any data that has been changed, added, or updated since the last backup.

What Are Snapshot Backups?

It's important to realize that snapshot backups can refer to a couple of different things.

A "snapshot" can refer to a type of backup. In general, a snapshot is a record of the state of a system at any given time. It's as if you took a photo — a snapshot — of all the data stored on a system at a certain moment. Snapshots are often stored in the same location as the original. A snapshot is not the same as a full backup of your complete website, but should something happen to your website data, your snapshot will enable you to reconstruct it based on the snapshot, or the backup.

"Snapshot Backup" can also refer to an actual tool used for this purpose. The tool can be found on some control panels, such as Plesk. With just one click, you can back up your entire system. Snapshot Backup usually stores your snapshots on a different server for added security. That way, if the data loss is related to a server failure, your backup won't be affected, and you can get back up and running more quickly.

Snapshot Backups Pros and Cons

A snapshot backup is an easy way to restore a server to its previous condition at a specific point of time. Unlike full backups, they are quick to run and take up very little storage space, making them a useful supplement to any website backup plan.

However, it's recommended that you also keep a full backup offsite in addition to your snapshot backups. Because snapshot backups are often stored in the same location as the original data, they won't help you restore your site in case of hardware failure or loss.

Finding a Host With Snapshot Backups

Most hosting providers will offer some sort of backup service for your website data, it often being snapshot backups. Depending on what control panel(s) your hosting provider makes available, you may have access to several different backup tools included with your hosting plan.

Some hosts charge an extra fee for providing backup services, however, so be sure to carefully check your hosting plan features and terms of service before purchasing to ensure you'll be able to back up your data, and find out which backup tools (if any) are included with your chosen hosting plan.

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