Backing Up Your Hosting Account – 3 Lessons


Backup Status in Home | cPanel

I've seen a few recent blog posts about backing up your blog, but I'd just like to take a few minutes to remind people about a further service – backing up your hosting account – that I didn't spot until I really needed it.

My story was depressing enough, and would have been far worse without this.

When I was a very innocent blogger, I imagined that user “admin” and one password across all my blogs was fine. After all – who could possibly be interested in my harmless little blogs? The worst that might happen was they could steal a copy of my $17 ebook. Right?

Wrong! One horrible August day, a couple of years ago, I started getting messages to say that my blogs and websites had been taken down because they were distributing “nasty stuff”. To be honest I'm still not 100% sure what they were doing, but I had about a dozen blogs all down and no idea what to do about it 🙁

For various reasons my hosting was split across 3 different hosting providers – and what a different quality of service I received.

  • HairyDog in the UK was the first on the phone with me late that same night. They helped me discover what had gone wrong with my websites, setting me up with more secure passwords and helping me install Microsoft Security Essentials on my PC. They were the first to get me up and running again, plus an education in the process.
  • Hostica hosted some of my blogs (because Hairy Dog wasn't doing them at the time). I had been making backups with a WordPress plugin, which I had saved on my own PC. These were in zip format and when it became obvious to Hostica that it would be less painful to just recover my sites for me, rather than limp me through learning how to do it, they somehow translated the backup zip files into blogs – mostly. They also had backups of their own servers from which they could recover versions of those blogs where my own backups were a little out-of-date. There was some customization stuff missing, but in a short number of days I was online again.
  • The third provider, let's just call them “BadHost”, unfortunately housed most of my blogs. This was because I had “fallen for” a cheap deal, with this hosting provider, rather than learn what to me was (at the time) the mysterious skill of installing a WordPress blog. They just didn't want to know. They had NO backups of their own and were completely incapable of installing my own backup zip files. I was in tatters – blog-wise and emotionally.

Happily a support forum recommended me to contact Hostgator and see if they could help.

Hostgator took my tiny little empire and patiently built it up again for me. I gave them access to my cpanel (control panel) on BadHost, and they transferred what they could onto their own servers then added my zip backups on top of that and somehow everything was more or less back in situ.

I cannot over-emphasize how grateful I was to Hostgator, Hostica and Hairy Dog for their excellent support over that time.

Obviously the first thing I asked Hostgator for was more information on their backup procedure. They showed me the settings indicated by the red arrows in the home page of the cpanel shown in the image at the top of this post. Otherwise I would probably never have thought to look for them.

Backups are made once a week (at the time of writing) and you can ask for email notification of the backup status. If you need more frequent backups, that can be arranged, and there's a video in the training section – you'll need to make your own decision on frequency.

However, don't be tempted to skip notification of the status of your backup, because after a time I started getting email notifications that my backups were failing!

It turned out that I had exceeded the limit of 100,000 files on my account. Goodness knows how and what they were, but it prompted me to have a much needed blog clear-out. This is still on-going, and I am back below the limit so my backups are successful again.

Backing up Your Hosting Account – Three Lessons

Three lessons about backing up your hosting account can be learned from my horror story:

  • Make your own backups, on your own PC so that YOU have control of your files. Don't rely completely on your hosting company. I use the free WordPress Database Backup plugin by Austin Matzko. I also use a paid plugin that takes a copy of the whole blog, but because it replies on manual intervention I am in danger of forgetting to do it 🙁
  • Check – and keep checking – that your hosting company is backing up your hosting account, and that the backups are successful.
  • Watch for any limit that might be exceeded and take steps to prevent it earlier rather than later.

And when “they” tell you to create a secure password – it really is necessary. There are morons out there who WILL enjoy ruining your lovely blog, however innocuous it is, just because they have perverted minds.

Don't be like me, and learn the hard way! Please share my warning story with anyone who may benefit.

Update 2014: In addition to the blogs taken by my hosting company I am now backing up my blog with the free WordPress Backup To DropBox plug-in.

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Angela McCall - February 20, 2013

Hi Joy,

This is an excellent post! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Wow…you are a remarkable lady, you handled all these so well. I would’ve gone CRAZY!!!!!!!! Paid Social Media Jobs made me started blogging and although I haven’t made money from their social media jobs, I have LEARNED so much how to start blogging without the pain.

*NOTE: Only reason why I didn’t make money doing social media jobs is…I have never really applied anything here online, yet. Coz I’m not used to doing it online but face-to-face in PERSON. But I’m gonna try that one day, I have to break my fear somehow.


From PSMJ, they taught me to how choose Namecheap to register my domain, and I have been pretty happy with them ever since. They taught me how to choose the right hosting service which is HOSTGATOR. I just love, love, love these people. I was confuse in installing WordPress in my domain, I called them, they answered me in a very pleasant tone, then helped me walk-thru installing WordPress on the phone…WOW!!!!!! They are just the BEST!!!!!!! I am pretty happy with them and I would HIGHLY recommend Hostgator to all of my friends & colleagues.

PSMJ also taught me to use WordPress for blogging since it’s the most popular and EASIEST format. You can start your website without the knowledge of HTML. How can you really beat that? Being a graphic designer, I know that designing a web can take a long time to finish one. And so, I love the idea of WordPress!!!!!! All the way…:)

You know Hostgator automatically “backup” my drive once in a while. And sometimes I would backup my blog by myself. But thank you for that EXTRA advice of installing a “backup” plugin in WordPress. I looked for it today and installed one in my blog. I couldn’t find the one you suggested but instead I installed “UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore.” It’s a 5-star. And it’s the one that allows you to forward your backup in your Google drive. Still learning how to do this… Thank you so much!!!!!!!


Joy Healey - February 20, 2013

Hi Angela

Glad you were helped by Hostgator too. Am sure the plugin you found will be good. Sending to Google drive is probably a better thing to do actually. Always something new to learn 🙂


Adrienne - February 20, 2013

Hey Joy,

I’ve written about this topic numerous times because I don’t want to see something like what happened to you happen to others.

I learned all about backing up not only my blog but the files on my server as well “just in case”. Knock on wood this has never happened to me and I pray it never does.

That’s why I love for people to learn how to do these types of things themselves so they’ll know what’s involved and not be taken for a ride by some person or service just wanting your money.

Thank you for this lesson and I’m sorry it was a hard one to learn.


    Joy Healey - February 20, 2013

    Hi Adrienne,

    As they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (paraphrased!) so my blogging emerged stronger 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your week.


    George Nieves - February 24, 2013

    Hi Joy,
    These stories come around too often.
    The saying goes, “It’s better to be safe, than sorry.”
    Backing up your blog & all your files should be a regular routine in one’s business.
    If not, you risk the chance of losing all of your hard work.
    This happens too frequently.
    Thanks for the important lesson, Joy! Take care!

      Joy Healey - February 24, 2013

      Hi George

      Thanks for dropping by. Yes, it was a bitter pill to swallow – but rather “then” than “now” when I have added so much more content.


Dita - February 25, 2013

What a nightmare for you! The biggest mistake most bloggers make is to assign “admin” to their logins. Every hacker knows that and it gives them one less barrier to worry about.

I recently wrote a post on how to change “admin” to something else. There is a bit of fiddling to do. I’ll include it in the recently posted so your readers can quickly change the “admin” user name to something else as well.

The other thing is to use a looong nonsensical password. That is really a good barrier.

I mean everything is possible, but having these two barriers in place is not worth for the hackers to waste their time and hopefully they’ll move on.

I am glad to see your blog up and running nicely.

Thanks for sharing your story.


    Joy Healey - February 26, 2013

    Thanks Dita. I’ll head on over to your post and a have a look. Hopefully I’m sorted now, but there’s always more to learn.


Lily - March 2, 2013

This is an awesome post. I find it really informative and interesting. I find it helpful as well. Thank you for sharing this to us.

    Joy Healey - March 2, 2013

    Thanks for stopping by Lily. I’m glad you found this helpful. Joy

Filmari Evenimente - April 3, 2013

I was lucky a few times I didnt lose my whole website due to hacks, because the hosting company dont have auto backups… lame

    Joy Healey - April 5, 2013

    Yes, I was horrified to realize that. Silly of me to assume!

    I changed hosting company because of that (now with Hostgator)


Joy Healey - April 23, 2013

Hi John

I use an FTP program, log into my hosting account, locate the file, right click on it, then select delete from the menu that pops up.

But be very sure that the file IS unwanted, because although you may not know what it is, it could have some unknown purpose.

You may be safest to contact your hosting company’s support desk to check.


good deal - July 19, 2014

Everything is very open with a really clear description of the issues.

It was really informative. Your site is very helpful.

Many thanks for sharing!

    Joy Healey - July 20, 2014

    Glad you found the post helpful. What method do you use do make a backup of your site? Joy

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