One of the most important and often neglected aspects of managing a site is taking frequent backups. Backups can save your site in the unfortunate event that it crashes unexpectedly.
Ranging from a component upgrade gone wrong and a simple human error to hacking attempts, sites do crash all the time.
The best time to back it up is yesterday.
This is a guest post by Nicholas K. Dionysopoulos, lead developer of Akeeba Backup.
Backups are worthless unless they're at hand when you most need them. Storing backups only on your server is a bad idea. If the server goes does, for example due to a hard drive fault, your backup will also go down. In this case, you are left with no option but to rebuild your site. Storing the backups locally can be a burden, as you have to manually download each backup of each of your sites.
DropBox solves this problem in a very intelligent manner. Instead of downloading files manually, it automatically synchronizes the on-line storage with a local copy. As soon as you connect to the Internet, new or modified files will be downloaded to your computer in the background, without you even noticing it. This automatic synchronization works with all of your computers, without additional charges.
On top of that, DropBox keeps backup copies of your deleted or modified files, so you can be certain that the correct version of your files will always be available. DropBox offers a forever free plan, with 2Gb of storage and plans with more features and bigger storage for a small fee.
It is only reasonable to propose that you take automatic backups of your Joomla! site to your DropBox account. Akeeba Backup Professional can do that for you. What's even better, it can do that for you automatically! Akeeba Backup Professional is available for a small fee – 40 Euros for one year of updates and can be installed on an unlimited number of sites without any extra charge.
Setting up your backups
The first thing you should do after installing Akeeba Backup Professional is to click the Configuration Wizard button. This will optimize some basic backup settings for you.
After that is complete, click on the Configuration button. In this page, look for the “Archiver Engine” on the left hand column. Next to the drop-down, on the far right of this row, click on “Configure...”. Click on the “Part size for split archives” and select “Custom”. In the field next to it, enter 5. This will automatically chop your backup to 5Mb files for the reasons mentioned in Akeeba Backup's documentation.
Then, find the row labelled “Data processing engine”. In the drop-down list select “Upload to DropBox” and then click the “Configure...” button next to it. Enter the email and password you use to login to your DropBox account in the respective fields. You can leave the “Directory” field empty for now; all your backup archives will be stored on your DropBox root.
Akeeba Backup automatically removes the backup archives from your server once it has uploaded them to DropBox. If you want to keep a copy of those archives in your site, please clear the “Delete archive after processing” check-box.
Finally, click on the Save button on the toolbar at the top to save your settings. You are now ready to backup your site to DropBox!
Testing your settings
The easiest way to test your settings is to simply click the “Backup Now” button in Akeeba Backup's main page. Normally, you should see the backup run through to its completion without warnings or errors. If you have DropBox' client application installed on your computer, a short while after the backup is taken you will see the backup parts coming through to your computer automatically.
If you run into any problems, start by lowering the Part Size for Split Archives setting. Depending on your host, a value as small as 256 Kb may be required. Usually, values between 1 and 30 Mb work best. Do not use a value over 50 Mb; DropBox will reject the file.
Where to go next?
Akeeba Backup has a ton of features. The next logical step would be automating your backups.
Being able to take full site backups is very good, but having your site do that for you automatically is even better. Akeeba Backup's documentation offers step-by-step instructions for automating this procedure.
Essentially, you have your site take a backup of itself and upload it to DropBox. All you have to do is to turn on your computer and your latest backup files will automatically be downloaded to it, thanks to DropBox' magic.