Back It Up

I'm hearing more and more about Russian hackers accessing companies' backend systems and demanding ransom money if they want to get their information back. Do we have a backup plan for this?
The actual email.

A client asked me recently about the kind of backups we maintain for their site. What I found most interesting was that the question was only being asked now, after years and years of hosting, and only because of the onslaught of media coverage about Russian meddling with the recent election.

Yes. Московия is engaged in a serious, military effort to steal the world’s cat blogs to enhance its own great and terrible place on the world stage.

But if we’re listing Reasons To Back Up Your Data, there are plenty of other risks, both more common and mundane, such as equipment failure and user error.

Still, the Red Scare, definitely up there.

The average computer user, particularly those old enough to remember floppy disks, are fairly aware of the importance of data redundancy, at least when it comes to devices in their physical possession. But as a species, we’re not well-equipped to worry too much about things — anything, people, places, data, mortality — that exists somewhere or somewhen else.

One of the more frightening realities of the modern world is specifically how this mentality applies to web sites. (I try not to think about it when ordering a book or depositing a check.)

Web servers are computers. They’re more robust than the average desktop PC, but they’re also enslaved to permanent use, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until replacement or death. They suffer the same sorts of ailments personal computers do: fans get dusty, chips overheat, hard-drives begin to make that clickety noise that precedes cataclysmic explosion.

And as it should happen, almost no web hosting service offers anything in the way of backup services.

Chances are better than not that everything from your subscription taco service to your second favorite blog (we’re fine, don’t worry) have absolutely no recovery plan. If their servers catch fire, if their interns delete everything by mistake, if hackers break in and encrypt all the data to hold it for ransom, that’s it. Game over.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Our own servers have backups of backups of backups, encrypted, automatic and manual, on- and off-site, on- and off-line. We actually keep backups of client data in a literal bank vault.

If you are a web site operator, please do you and your users a service by ensuring your data is safe and sound. If you need a hand, (shameless plug:), contact us.