What is a Backup?

Posted on by Jackie Cowan | Updated:
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A backup is a duplicate record of computer or server information stored locally on either your computer or server or at an off-site location or separate device. Backups are typically used to restore lost or corrupted data from the secondary location back to the primary generally in the event of a security breach, hardware failure, or natural disaster.

Why are Backups Needed?

In the world of web hosting, there is little that is more disappointing than an unforeseen data event. For example, malicious malware can infect an account, critical websites files can be removed, or a developer can accidentally overwrite a live database. Because of these issues, it is imperative to retain backups of your information.

Backups are mission-critical for any website, server, or application today. Having a reliable backup plan in place with multiple points of recovery is critical. Current industry standards for web hosting recommend having at least one offsite backup solution and one local solution to ensure your site’s and business’s security. Creating, managing, and maintaining a website or application can be a lot of work, but backups shouldn’t be. Luckily, Liquid Web has multiple solutions to offer, and all options are fully supported by Liquid Web and our trained System Recovery and Support Teams.

Types of Backups

There are three types of backups: full, differential, and incremental.

What is a Full Backup?

A full backup, typically used in conjunction with other backup types, is a complete backup of all files, directories, and settings on a computer. This typically includes all storage drives on the computer but may exclude a drive intended for storing the full backup content. Because it consumes more storage space than any other type of backup, a full backup will take longer to complete.

Suppose you plan to make many changes to your server or model your existing server setup as a template to apply to any newly added servers to your account. You can create a server image in both cases, which is a manually created full backup of your server. 

Our VPS and cloud dedicated hosting solutions allow for creating server images and can be accessed from your My Liquid Web account. Once created, your server image is stored at $0.25/GB/mo until you delete it.

What is a Differential Backup?

Differential backups back up files created or changed since the last full backup. For example, if a full backup is scheduled every Sunday, a differential backup on Monday would only record the changes that occurred after the full backup was completed on Sunday. Likewise, a differential backup occurring on Tuesday would follow the same process of only backing up changes made since Sunday’s full backup. Because differential backups only record changes, getting the backup takes less time, can be restored quicker than full backups, and take up less space.

What is an Incremental Backup?

Incremental backups back up only files that have changed since the last backup operation. Much like differential backups, an incremental backup takes a full backup of the initial state of the computer before the incremental backup. However, subsequent incremental backups will only store changes made from the most recent backup.

From our earlier example, we start with a full backup of your server on Sunday. When the incremental backup runs on Monday, it only records changes made since Sunday’s backup. When Tuesday’s incremental backup runs, only changes made after Monday’s backup are recorded.

Incremental backups perform faster because they back up less data, utilizing less storage space than the full or differential backups. However, a complete restoration may take longer to implement because more backup files will need to be accessed.

Backup Storage Options

Local Backups

If you have a server utilizing a web hosting panel such as cPanel or Plesk, you should enable local backups from within these panels. A local backup means that the backup is stored directly on the server itself. 

Local backups can be useful if you have many clients who may need to restore content themselves from the hosting panel(s) or do not have much content to back up.

Hosting panel license fees typically include local backups, so there is no additional charge; however, the backups can take up disk space on the server. Be mindful of your available disk space as the backups offer multiple retention and redundancy options that could fill up the server.

Liquid Web’s Cloud Block Storage is a great solution if you need additional disk space for your local backups, or you can resize your virtual private server (VPS).

Offsite Backups

Local backups are an excellent first step in ensuring your data is safe. However, offsite backups are just as critical in ensuring your business stays online as they are stored offsite, away from your server’s primary location. An offsite backup can be accessed and enabled to return your website to working order should a catastrophic event occur.

Off-Server Backups

Liquid Web offers an array of off-server backup options:

  • Server Backups: Includes a suite of basic and enterprise-level backup features that work with all of our cloud hosting products.
  • Cloud Object Storage: A durable, secure, highly available solution for your storage needs.
  • Log Storage: Store, monitor, and manage your server logs in an easy-to-use interface.
  • Storage Area Network

Acronis Cyber Backups

Liquid Web’s Acronis Cyber Backups are available on our dedicated, VPS, cloud dedicated, VMware, and cloud server hosting solutions and provide encrypted cloud backups that can be configured, managed, and restored within its easy-to-use self-service portal. Enabling encryption adds an extra level of security, preventing unauthorized access to your server and aiding in your HIPAA or PCI compliance requirements.

The backups can be stored off-server within the Liquid Web Cloud or off-site within the Acronis Backup Cloud. As both storage destinations provide all of the same features, you can choose the most appropriate option based on your needs.

Backup Best Practices

Make sure your server is backed up by implementing backup procedures specific to your business needs. Listed below are some minimum backup recommended recommendations.

  • Two to three local daily backups.
  • One remote daily backup.
  • One local and/or remote weekly backup.

Below is a list of ideal backup recommendations:

  • Five to seven local daily backups.
  • One to three remote daily backup(s).
  • One to three local and/or remote weekly backup(s).
  • One or more local and/or remote monthly backup(s).

The recommendations above should be sufficient for most customers to ensure you have enough backup points to recover your data if necessary.

Choose Acronis Cyber Backups Today!

Backups are not only an integral part of your website, but they are integral to your business as well. Whether they are local or remote, backups will keep your website going when a failure or attack occurs.

Liquid Web’s Acronis Cyber Backups are available on our dedicated, VPS, cloud dedicated, VMware, and cloud server hosting solutions. Reach out to us today if you are still unsure what type of backup works best for your server!

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About the Author: Jackie Cowan

Jackie Cowan is the Communications Manager for Liquid Web. She received her MS in Communications from the Ithaca College, MLIS in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and BBA in Management Information Systems from the University of Michigan. She has 10 years of experience with technical and billing support, search engine optimization, and spearheading projects to enhance company culture.

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