If what’s on Your Computer is Important to You, Use an Online Backup Service

When is the last time you did a full backup of your computer?

If the answer is “I don’t know”, “never,” “it’s on my todo list” or “do I really need to?”

STOP what you’re doing right now – Read this post – Review the 3 online backup services below – and then SIGN UP.

How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow morning and everything on your computer was GONE?
All those pictures you have taken over the last couple of years? The project you have been working on for months.

This is not the kind of thing that happens to someone else.

  • Hard drives fail without warning.
  • Even when you are careful viruses can get through.
  • And nobody wants to think about their computer being stolen or their house burning down. It happens.

Automatic backups are easy to set-up, and unbelievably inexpensive when compared to the alternative.

Local – Hard Drive backup – vs. Online – Cloud – backup.

Hard Drive Back-up

The Advantages:  It’s local, It sits right next to your computer. You don’t have to be online to access it.  You can use the hard drive for automated backups and you can use it to create an archive of files you want to keep, but don’t need to be on your hard drive.

Disadvantages: It’s local, It sits right next to your computer.  If there is a physical event that affects your computer (fire, theft, earthquake)  the same thing may happen to your hard drive.  While you can use automatic back-up software, many people don’t, thinking that they’ll remember to do it once a week.

Online – Cloud – backup

The Advantages:  Set it and forget it. Once you set it up it runs automatically.  My system backs up when my computer is idle for more than 30 minutes. I have a backup of every changed file within hours.  That means if I accidently erase the wrong version of something I am working on, I can restore an earlier version.

You can access your files from anywhere. If you are meeting with a client and realize that something you need is on your office computer, you used to be out of luck. Now it’s also on your backup and you can download it to your phone or in a clients office.

Disadvantages: There really aren’t any. Your data is as secure as anything is online. It’s encrypted and transmitted over a secure connection.  The backup service will make backups of your backups so you are protected.

Note:  If you have files that are very important there’s nothing wrong with keeping multiple backups or archive copies.  

Don’t confuse backup copies and archive copies.

A backup is like a snapshot of your computer at a particular time.  It makes copies of the files on your computer. If a file is deleted from your hard disk it will stay on your back-up for a designated period of time (often 30-60 days) and then it is removed, since it’s no longer a copy of something on your hard disk.

If you are running out of space on your hard disk, and want to delete some files that you don’t need regular access to, (old records or photos)  but need to keep you must make archive copies and store them on a hard disk or with a cloud service like Dropbox or AmazonS3.

Once a file is deleted from your hard drive it is scheduled to be deleted from your backup.

Best backup services for individuals or small businesses.

All of these services will continuously back-up your system. When you initially set them up they will automatically select some files for backing up, but you can add additional files that you want included, or remove any that they selected that you don’t want backed up.

Carbonite.  Free 15 day trial for individuals. Backup 1 computer (Mac or Windows) unlimited storage starting at $59.99/year. Home Plus ($99.99) and Home Premier ($149.99) add additional features including backing up external hard drives and creating mirror image backups. (A duplicate copy of the data your hard drive on a local hard drive.) Plans for multiple computers start at $229.99/yr.

Key Features:  All plans have unlimited data capacity. Home Plus and Home Premier add external hard drives. Best for someone who only uses one computer. Multiple computers require separate individual plans, or you have to back one up to the other and then have that one backed up by Carbonite.  

CrashPlan. Free plan will automatically backup your computer(s) to another computer. This isn’t a cloud backup (meaning your data is stored by them) but a way to get an off-site backup. You can backup your home computer to your office, and vice versa, or make an arrangement with a friend to keep your backup and you keep theirs. Free trial for all paid plans. Cloud backup 1 computer (Mac or Windows) 10GB storage starting for 32.99/yr ($2/mo.) Backup 1 computer, unlimited storage at $59.99/year.   Backup 2-10 computers unlimited storage starting at $149.99/year.  Save 20% off first year of Crashplan. (This isn’t an affiliate link – meaning I don’t make a commission if you use it – but it will get you 20% off.)

Key Features:  All plans backup to multiple (onsite & offsite) destinations. Free plan and low –cost $2/mo plan. Family plan is a good deal for 3 or more computers.

Mozyhome. Free trial.  Backup one computer $5.99/mo up to 50GB, three computers $9,99/mo 125GB limit. Add additional computers and/or 20 GB storage for an additional $2/mo.

Key Features:  This can be a good deal if you have multiple computers and can stay within their space limits. 50 GB sounds like a lot, and a few years ago it was, but if you end up with multiple copies of files in different folders, or have lots of photos, video or music you can get to 50GB pretty quickly.

 

How to change WordPress users and get rid of “admin.”

If you do one thing to protect your website  its to make sure that you don’t have a user named “admin” This video will show you how to do it. (Then do the other 4 things lilsted below the video.

1. Make sure your administrative user isn’t named admin.

2. Deactivate and delete any unused plug-ins.

3. Make sure WordPress, all plug-ins and all themes are up to date.

4. Delete any themes you aren’t using. Many web hosts load lots of free themes which can become a security problem if they aren’t kept updated. When doing a WordPress installation if you have a choice between standard and custom (or advanced) always choose custom. Then you get only the default themes uploaded. You can always add more themes later.

5. Install Wordfence or Better WP Security. They are both free plug-ins, and they add a lot of important security features at one time.

 

 

Would you know if your website had been hacked?

In the last couple of weeks I have heard about three sites that have been hacked – and they probably aren’t the kind of sites you think hackers would target. While one of the sites had been around for 6 years, and had hundreds of pages, the other two were fairly new, with relatively few pages. It was easy to tell that the first site had been hacked, it was destroyed and the owner was locked out, but the other two are scarier. Visiting the sites you would have had no idea about what was going on behind the scenes.

In a 2012 study of 600 hacked websites… 90% of the owners reported that they didn’t notice any strange activity, despite the fact that their sites were being abused to send spam, host phishing pages, or distribute malware. Almost half reported that they only discovered they had been hacked when they went to their own site and received a warning from their browser. Report by StopBadware and Commtouch : Compromised Websites: An Owner’s Perspective

In fact, both of these sites had been hacked weeks before the problem was discovered.

Not all hackers are targeting high profile or eCommerce sites. In fact most of them are looking for sites where they are most likely not to be noticed. They want to sneak into a working site, and use it to hide their illegal activities.

The sites most at risk are often owned by small businesses and individuals. These sites don’t have someone focusing on the site security.

Those are the sites that are most likely to have easy to crack passwords. They often haven’t installed the latest release of WordPress or kept their plugins up to date. Sites with content that doesn’t often change generally don’t have anyone looking for changes in the admin area, or monitoring their bandwidth use.

What do hackers want?

The two of the most common uses of hijacked websites are sending spam, and redirecting links. With the exception of hackers who want to make a political point, ultimately the goal of most hacking is to make money, and there are a number of popular strategies for doing it.

Hosting malware. They do it either by embedding a script in the website that infects any visitor to the site, or by sending emails that include a link to a page that will infect the visitor. Redirecting URLs. They set up redirect links, so someone who intends to go to a page on your website, is redirected to another site without ever seeing your page. Alternatively, they may add a pop-up to your site with bad links, or redirect links on your pages to their malware infected sites.

Hosting phishing, spam or pornography pages. The hackers may add pages to your site that look like Paypal or a bank site, they might set up pages that sell pharmaceuticals or fraudulent products, or add porn to your site, or pages that redirect to porn sites.

If you haven’t spent much time worrying about website security you’re not alone. But you don’t have to be a target.

Download this 6 point WordPress Security Checklist to make your site more secure.

These tips are just the simplest, easiest to implement ways to increase the security of your WordPress site. If you aren’t comfortable making these changes to your website, or you want to reduce your risk even more (these things are really the bare minimum) take a look at our new WordPress Site Management Service.

I’ve put a system in place for my websites, and my client’s, that keeps WordPress and all plugins updated, does automatic weekly backups, limits login attempts, uses Sucuri Services to monitor site or domain changes, track traffic patterns, remove malware, and notifies me whenever anything unusual happens.

If your online presence is important to your business, make sure you protect it. If you don’t have the time to recover from being hacked, take the steps to prevent it from happening. If you aren’t actively managing your website, please consider having us do it for you.