Today we kick off our January Blog Challenge: 31 days to clean up, grow and improve your blog. What better time than January to start getting things sorted and ready to go for a brand new year of blogging?
We'll be sharing 31 tips, ideas, and strategies for you to get things in order and make blogging easier.
Today, we bring you Day 1 with perhaps the most important step you can take for your blogging life, especially if you are on a self-hosted platform like WordPress:
We did that all in caps on purpose.
Back up. Right now. Start the year off with a solid backup of all your files - your computer files, your picture files, your blog files - all of it.
This is the perfect time of year to grab an external hard drive in a Boxing Week sale. 1+ terabyte drives are available at very affordable prices - much more affordable than the pain of losing all your files.
You should do this regularly but, very few people do and people pay the price for it every day. Hardware fails, cloud services fail, it happens.
If you have work you do for clients, such as sponsored posts, photography, etc, it's even more crucial. Backup client files to more than one location. We like to use an external hard drive and a cloud storage system.
Backing Up Your Blog
If you have a self-hosted blog then you need to make sure you backup your blog files (this applies mostly to WordPress users). You need to back up your database and your theme files. You can do this through a number of plug-ins like BackUp Buddy or BackUpWordPress. Check out this article for some other suggestions.
You may also be able to pay an additional fee to your hosting company to have them backup for you. Read the fine print on these - many have "page" limitations.
How Often Should You Backup?
Easy answer? Depends on what you're ok with losing if your computer or blog were to crash right this second.
For computer files, If you do a lot of daily work that you can't afford to lose, then backup daily. If you're ok with losing a week's worth of work, backup weekly. If you've just uploaded all your Christmas photos, backup right now.
You don't need to do a full backup every time - you can just do what's called an "incremental" backup where you backup the most recently changed files.
Blog's are a little different. It's important to have a regular schedule of backing up to protect you in the event of a hack. It can sometimes take days or even weeks after being hacked before you become aware of it. And if you've been backing up all along and not keeping old backups, your backup may well be infected as well.
A good rule of thumb with a blog is to backup once a month and keep each month's backup for a year. Then regularly backup based on your posting schedule and keep those backups a week or two. That way if you do get hacked and don't notice it right away, the likely worst case scenario is you may lose a month of posts to get to a clean set of files.
Going away? Backup. You never know what might happen while you're away - fires, floods, locusts. Backup and leave your external drive in a separate location from your house.
However you do it or whatever schedule you set yourself, start 2014 off with a fresh clean backup of all your files. Go do it right now!