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Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.

 


Is Your Web Hosting Company Backing Up Your Website?

April 21st, 2008

Is your small business website hosting company backup up your website? If they are, how often are the backup happening and how do you request a backup copy replace what’s currently there (assuming a mistake was made).

I had a client recently ask me whether or not his hosting company was backing up his website files. At first, I thought this was a silly question, because I thought the answer would be “of course!”

I accidentally deleted my entire blog, including the database on one awful day, when I was rushing too much and not thinking. Literally, all of my blog files and my blog’s database was gone. In a total panic, I submitted several support tickets (like people who push the elevator button multiple times because they believe the elevator will hurry). And without even making fun of me or chastising me for doing something so stupid, my hosting company simply restored the blog and it’s database. Poof! It was back, all safe and sound. Disaster averted.

So when my client (who doesn’t have his website hosted with my company) asked me if his website files were backed up, I was pretty confident that they were being backed up. And if he did something stupid like I did, he could simply submit a support ticket and everything would come back. But because his website was hosted with Aplus.net, I told him he should ask them.

The answer that came back totally surprised me. I wish I had saved it, but it was definitely not heartwarming or encouraging. I was stunned and he was angry. So I made a mental note just to do a quick experiment of my own, and write in to several hosting companies asking them this question: “Do you back up my website files?”

I sent inquires to DreamHost.com, Aplus.net, and NetworkSolutions.com. Network Solutions refused to answer my question via email – why, I have no idea. Here are the responses from Aplus.net and DreamHost:

From Aplus.net:

Dear Jill Olkoski,

Note that personal backups are provided only by exception and once.
It is customers' responsibility to do backup of their files.
There is no guarantee that a custom backup request would be
resolved successfully. Please let us know how you would
like to proceed.

And from DreamHost.com:

Hello Jill,
I would be glad to answer your questions about our service.
Yes we keep automated backups of all of our customer's data
(including databases,emails and site files!), you can read
more about this server (and how easy it is to restore
the data) here: http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Backups

Of course it may be good to note that these backups are
provided as an extra service and are not guaranteed, so
we consider it mandatory that our customers keep their
own off-site backups, just in case of moose herd gets
into the data center (or other un-expected event).

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask me.

Perhaps you detect a difference in the level of customer service? In attitude? In sense of humor? So before you choose a hosting company, ask them if they back up your files. See if they answer, see what they say and how they say it. Sometimes a very simple question can reveal a lot about a company.

Jill
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J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.



2 Responses to “Is Your Web Hosting Company Backing Up Your Website?”

  1. Russ Gilman Says:

    Jill,

    I am the Sr. V.P. of Customer Care at Aplus.Net. I came across this posting via Google alerts. I am writing because the information given to you from whoever you dealt with gave you incorrect information. Aplus.Net does backup our customer’s hosting plans, as long as they are on a shared server platform. Dedicated Server customers can opt for backup services at an additional charge, but shared hosting customers do not pay anything additional.

    The comment about it being a one time only service shows that Aplus.Net does backup the servers. If not, how could a “one time” restore of the data be provided.

    Yes, I admit that the flavor of the cimmunication was less than friendly as well. If you have the name of the individual that communicated this to you I can have them iinformed of their mistake.

    Regards,

    Russ Gilman

  2. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Russ,
    My support ticket number was Ticket ID: 369891, from that you should be able to get the name of the individual who answered my initial request.

    I would still note that allowing “one time” restoration is a very limited policy – and over the lifetime of a customer, would not be adequate – and I agree, the tone of the response was, to me, “well, we’ll do it once, and only as an exception, and this is not part of our job”.

    I would also take this opportunity to note that it is my common experience when dealing with Aplus.net customer support that their English is poor – there are other examples in my blog of online chat sessions that were incredibly frustrating. Again, I think it’s a systemic issue, not an individual’s fault.

    I do commend you on caring about what people are writing about your customer care service and appreciate the comment.




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