Do You Have A Disaster Recovery Plan?

Disaster Recovery Plan
Image courtesy of basketman /

One winter’s day a couple of years ago, I was asked to take part in a project by the company I was employed by.

I wasn’t overly keen, there was snow lying on the ground and more forecast for that day.

I worked in the centre of Edinburgh at that time but the disaster recovery plan project was based in Livingston, a good 30 minutes drive from my house on a good day.

A colleague of mine decided they would drive so I made my way into Edinburgh and then we both headed off into the snow.

At least if there were two of us and we got stuck in the snow it wouldn’t be so bad, well maybe not so much of a disaster as at least we would have each other’s company.

If something happened to the company’s office in Edinburgh, all operations could be transferred to the site in Livingston and the company would have some business continuity.

My colleague and I were there to test that computer systems and telephone lines had been transferred successfully.

I was thinking about this only the other day in terms of my blog and whether I had a robust enough plan in place myself.

What’s My Disaster Recovery Plan?

Here is what I have in place currently – a 3 tier system.

Web Host Backup

My disaster recovery plan begins with Hostgator, who are my web host.

They backup my website every week and I would certainly recommend them as a web host.

WordPress Backup To Dropbox

Dropbox is a free service that automatically saves files to all your computers, phones and your Dropbox account online.

If your computer breaks down, or you lose your phone, any data you save in your Dropbox account can be restored instantly on another device.

You automatically get 2 GB of storage space when you sign up for a free Dropbox account.

I use a WordPress plugin called WordPress Backup To Dropbox to automatically backup my WordPress files and SQL database to my Dropbox account.


Carbonite automatically backs up all of my computer’s files when I’m online.

It’s easy to get access to my backup any time and from anywhere in the world.

I’ve used Carbonite for many years and it’s a really affordable service.

If you buy a new computer, it’s really easy to transfer all of your backed up files to it via the Carbonite website.

What’s Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

I’m sure you’ve got something in place already and I’d be interested to hear about it.

What do you think of mine?  Robust enough? Do you have a Dropbox account already or use Carbonite and what do you think of them?

Do you use an alternative WordPress backup solution?  There are certainly a number of them available.

I’m looking forward to hearing all about your disaster recovery plan and I’d really appreciate it if you would share my post as well.

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  1. says

    I’ve heard a lot about Dropbox but really didn’t understand it – nice explanation here. I should really check it out. I didn’t realize it was FREE too for that amount of space. Thanks for sharing this good info. I also use Hostgator and so far so good – I love their 24/7 chat support. I do backup my blogs/websites fairly often. I learned the hard way once. That’s all it took.

    • says

      Hey Lisa

      I first learnt about Dropbox from using YNAB (you need a budget) where any financial transactions you enter on your mobile phone automatically sync to your PC or Mac. It then seemed natural to use it to backup my website as well. It works in a similar way to iCloud in other words.

      2 GB is a brilliant amount of free space and there’s opportunities to get even more for free by following on Twitter etc. I currently have 2.63 GB from doing that!

      Hostgator are great aren’t they. I’ve never had any problems at all and they’re really helpful when you need them.

      Sorry you had to learn the hard way about backing up your blogs/websites but great that you learnt and now you have something in place.

      Have a great weekend Lisa and thank you for your comments.


  2. says

    It’s important to have an onsite backup as well as an offsite backup. Each has its pros and cons, each addresses the other’s weaknesses. Onsite is vulnerable to theft or fire. Offsite restoration can take a long, long time.

    I once lost lots of irreplaceable files to a hard drive crash. My IT friends like to say there are two kinds of computer users. Those who have lost data to a crash, and those who will. So… I back up via Time Machine (on site) and Crash Plan, which is a highly rated Carbonite alternative that has some cool features, especially if you have more than one computer user at home. (If you’re using Carbonite, you may be able to get your first year on Crash Plan free for switching — nice deal!)

    • says

      Hey Barrett

      That’s one thing I have left out of my plan, onsite backup. I have time on my hands for offsite so it’s not so important but it’s certainly something I will look at.

      I really like the look of Crash Plan I have to say and thanks for the heads up on the free year for Carbonite users. It’s certainly got me interested!

  3. says

    If I comment, I might be exposed for the fraud that I am. I don’t have any disaster recovery plan other than if this all went away I would just start a new WP account. Maybe that’s naive, but based on my current model as long as I have a platform to ‘broadcast’ then that’s all I need, right?

    Maybe I should start giving it a little more thought if I’m going to be a social guru, right?

    Plus, that is one of the things we always incorporate into a risk management program for our businesses. Not only facility disaster, but key personnel as well.

    Thanks for sharing Timbo.

    • says

      Hey Bill

      It would be a real shame to lose all your hard work on your blog.

      With a WordPress hosted account, they will backup your blog daily but there other things you can do as well for extra peace of mind.

      You could, for example, backup your posts, pages, comments, categories and tags through the Export panel. That will give you an XML file which you can then either import back into WordPress or another blog program.

      That won’t backup your theme or image files but at least you would have the majority of your content.

  4. says

    Hey Tim, I think that contingency plan is robust enough man.

    I have never used Carbonite before, might be something I should be looking at and thanks a lot for mentioning that plugin that backups directly to DropBox (I also use these guys, highly recommended).

    That plugin is something I’m DEFINITELY going to make some time to play around with this very same weekend.

    Awesome article man!


    • says

      Hey Sergio

      That’s great, I’m glad you think so.

      I like Carbonite a lot, although Barrett also mentioned Crash Plan above and Adrienne mentions MyPCBackUp below. They all do similar things so I would check them all out to see what you think.

      The plugin works great Sergio. You can backup to Dropbox as often as you like and choose specific things from your WordPress blog you want to backup too. I hope you like it!

      Have a great weekend mate.


  5. says

    Now that’s a darn good plan Tim, much better then mine.

    I use Bluehost and I love them. Let’s see, my computer gets backed up every single day by a service I use called MyPCBackup plus I save all my files to my external hard drive just to be on the safe side.

    I back up my blog and SQL database every week as well. I don’t use Dropbox or Cloudflare mainly because I’ve just heard nightmare stories of how screwed up everything became so that of course made my decision. So far, everything has been running smoothly and I pray I never need any of this but better safe then sorry right.

    Thanks for sharing and you’re right, we all need a disaster recovery plan.


    • says

      Hey Adrienne

      Your plan sounds pretty robust too. Particularly as you backup to an external hard drive. That’s something I should really think about.

      I’ve heard that Bluehost are great. I’ve always been with Hostgator from when I first started setting up websites as they were recommended to me.

      I discovered Dropbox from using personal finance software, YNAB. I’ve never had any problems with the service but I can imagine it would be a nightmare if things did get screwed up. It does make things really easy and convenient to backup though.

      Now Cloudflare is another matter. I had no end of problems with them and finally removed their service from my blog a couple of weeks ago.

      I hope you’re having a great weekend Adrienne and thank you for your comments.


  6. Jeevan Jacob John says

    To be honest here, I am not sure if I have any disaster plan right now (or my last blog). I did have the WP database backup plugin – which I think I have set to automatically backup every week or so; I don’t exactly remember (it has been sometime since I thought about this!).

    I guess I need to pay more attention to the topic when I start my new blog (I did have a disaster recovery plan for my older blog – I had database back plugin along with Hostgator backing it up every week).

    I think I can just use my computer to store all the files (I just removed my old system – Vista and loaded Windows 7, which gave me almost 70 gigabytes of free space).

    Appreciate the post, Tim 😀

    • says

      Hey Jeevan

      I’m looking forward to seeing your new blog when it happens.

      You should definitely think about some backup solutions when that happens. You don’t want all your hard work going down the drain!

      I’m thinking of upgrading to Windows 8 when it comes out in a few days so wish me luck!

      I hope you’re well Jeevan.


  7. Andrew says

    It is, indeed, important to have a serious web host with a good and constant backup service. I’ve used hostgator in the past and I hear they’re currently the best. I consider getting back to them soon.

    WordPress-related, I currently use a plugin that e-mails me a database backup daily. I have plenty of mail storage for that, and can always delete the older backups if I even run out of it, so I find it good enough for my current needs.
    The DropBox backup plugin sounds awesome, though! Might be useful to me in the future, I’ll keep it in mind.

    I don’t have important data on my PC, so I don’t have a disaster recovery plan for that. However, I do keep my important text files on Google Docs just in case.
    I also recommend Google Docs to any blogger, it’s a great service if you’re like me and want a place to immediately write down new article ideas the moment you get them, no matter where you are.

    Thanks for a helpful post, Tim!

    • says

      Hey Andrew

      It sounds as though you’ve got a pretty robust disaster recovery plan set up.

      The Dropbox plugin is certainly worth it as you get quite a lot of free storage (2GB) when you sign up and you can then just set it to backup your blog daily or weekly or monthly.

      I haven’t used Google Docs before but it definitely sounds like it’s something I need to think about.

      Thank you for your comments Andrew. I really appreciate them.


  8. says

    Tim, good topic to get people thinking about their digital safety. I rarely think about recovery and you know my blog is backed up to my web host every night but I hate to think what would happen if they went dark. It’s not 3rd party but my site is safe. Hmmmm…….

    I also back up my files to a portable drive so I have all my content.

    I am hoping that is enough. Hey, I love the actionable tips here. I used the one for the favicon and it worked well. Thanks bud.

    • says

      Hey Ralph

      It’s great that you back up your files to a portable drive. That’s something I need to think about.

      At the moment all my backups are online; web host, Carbonite and Dropbox. Certainly I would recommend Dropbox as you automatically receive 2GB of space when you sign up for a free account.

      Thank you for your comments Ralph.

      I hope you are well.


  9. Khaja moin says

    Hey Tim,
    I too use HG but I don`t know how to automate backup process. Can you please help me?

    For now I`m doing it manually. I do use WP plugins but weekly once will do it manually.


    • says

      Hey Khaja

      Welcome to my blog. It’s great to see you here.

      Hostgator should automatically backup your blog. If you look at your control panel and scroll down, in the left hand column you should see a Backup Status box with details of the last backup of your data.

      In terms of automating the backup process, do you mean for your blog or your computer?

      Many thanks for your comments Khaja and I hope to see you here again soon.


        • says

          Hi Khaja

          There are a number of ways you can backup your WordPress blog but for me, the easiest way is to use a plugin.

          If you take a look at the WordPress Plugin Directory, you’ll find an absolute ton of plugins you could use.

          The one I use is WordPress Backup to Dropbox and I would certainly recommend it.

          You can sign up for a free account at Dropbox and you’ll get pretty respectable storage of 2GB.

          I like the plugin because I already use Dropbox and I know how useful it is not just for backups.

          There are other ways to backup your blog which require manual work. There’s an article from WordPress about backing up your blog here if you wanted to explore that route.

          I hope this helps Khaja but if you need any further explanation, please let me know.


  10. says

    Hi Tim,

    This is truly a useful post for me. There is so much happening these days that you simply need to have some recovery plan in place. The other day, I just discovered that one of my blogs was hacked. I couldn’t believe it. I had set up the blog and left it to run on its own and had not checked on it for some time. The experience has thought me a lesson that having a backup in place is always a wise decision.

    Thanks for these suggestions, will definitely check them out.

    • says

      Hi Chadrack

      I’m sorry to hear that one of your blogs was hacked. That’s terrible! It’s just not something you expect to happen.

      I hope you find my suggestions useful. Dropbox is certainly worth checking out, even if you don’t use it for backing up your data.

      Thank you for your comments Chadrack and I hope you get your backups set up okay.

      Have a great weekend.


      • says

        Yea, it was really a bad experience for me. But any way, I have already signed up for DropBox. I’m already setting things up. Once again, thanks for this post.

        • says

          Good stuff Chadrack.

          You can earn bonus space with Dropbox, just by linking with Facebook and Twitter and following them on Twitter and also by reading the Getting Started document.

          Just by doing that you will get an extra 625 MB!

          I find it useful beyond the backup when accessing things between my computer and iPhone.

          Great to hear you found the post useful.

  11. says

    That’s a very interesting topic Tim. I don’t have a real plan, but I am using Dropbox for a lot of things. And I am hosting my websites at Synthesis (owned by Copyblogger) and they’ve insured me that they backup everything all the time, and have all the security stuff in place. But, I have thought a lot about buying an external hard drive in case something bad happens :)

    • says

      Hey Jens

      Like you, I’m finding lots of ways to use Dropbox. It’s so easy and instant!

      I don’t know Synthesis but if it’s owned by Copyblogger then it must be pretty decent.

      You’ve done more than me when it comes to offline backup. I’ve not thought about it and I know I should also consider buying an external hard drive too.

      Something else for me to think about…

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