I assume that many of you, like me, have multiple web sites. If you wear a black hat, you may have hundreds or thousands. However, most of those are throwaway domains, so losing them is probably not a big concern. If you wear a white or gray hat, however, each of your sites is probably very important to you. Managing to backup both a site's pages and it's database is fairly trivial, but keeping up with backups of multiple sites and databases can be a daunting task.
I always seem to have somewhere between 20 and 30 sites going at any one time. Backing up the pages is simple, and I manage to keep up with them. Backing up the databases is another story. I do have a script running on two of my sites that automatically backs up the databases once a day and emails it to me. I discussed that script before at www.seo-scoop.com/direct_link.cfm?thepost=473. It works great, but after I installed it, the hurricane hit, and I never got around to installing it on the rest of my sites. So, since August, I have been very lax with my backups. Shame on me.
A couple of days ago, I decided to see if there were any programs out there that would allow me to easily backup everything on a site, pages and databases. I found one and have been setting it up for all my sites over the last two days. The program is called Site Vault, and although the setup is a bit tedious, it does work very well. This is not freeware, but the cost ($99) is justified for me since it lets you set up as many sites on it as you want. If you are interested, you can download a trial version at www.site-vault.com. (And no, I don't get any kind of kickback for sending you there).
It is not a perfect solution because there is no way to automate the process. After setting up all the sites, you have to manually tell it to backup each one. I have sent them a feature request to enable users to schedule backups, but for now, it is a manual process. The first backup took a while, but each subsequent backup only backs up changed or added files, so it was really quick.
The reason I like this type of solution is that everything is stored in one folder (for each site). If my host destroys my sites, I can very easily be back up and running. In fact, the program actually lets you restore everything directly from the software, but I have not tried that part out. Either way…restoring from the program, or restoring from the backup folder via ftp and phpMyAdmin, would be a simple 5 minute job at most. That alone makes the price worthwhile for me.
I know that I harp on the subject of backups every few months, but having been on the receiving end of a non-backed up site that has been lost, I can't seem to emphasize the importance of it enough. And anything I find that makes this important task easier is something I think is worth talking about.
So however you choose to backup your sites, just do it! And if I find any more tools that make the task a little easier, I will pass them along to you.