Losing a single order has significant financial costs for online stores. Real-time backup for WooCommerce sites is the answer; but only if you know for what it is that you’re signing up.

For online stores, the clock does not confine business hours. The window is open 24/7 and users place orders at all times of the day. You cannot afford for either your site to go down or to lose even one of those orders. Both these scenarios will harm your revenue.

Despite all the security measures you take there is no fool-proof plan. For this reason, having a robust backup plan plays a key role in an online store’s strategy to safeguard orders, payments and other data.

 

You can't afford to lose any information on your WooCommerce points. This is why you need real-time backups

 

Online stores built on WordPress; the most popular CMS in the World, mostly use the WooCommerce plugin. If you too operate your business via the ‘WooCommerce window’ then it is important to know the challenges of backing up WooCommerce sites and the backup solutions available to you. Between 2010 and 2013, the average cost of downtime per minute increased by 54% from $5,000 to $8,000. While the average downtime during the same period decreased by only 11%, the cost of being offline is rising all the time.

 

What is WooCommerce?

A quick introduction— WooCommerce is a popular e-commerce platform for WordPress sites. The platform offers many extensions and themes to transform WordPress sites into online stores. As part of this, WooCommerce offers extensions for accounting, marketing, inventory, customer service, and payment gateways among others; to easily build e-commerce sites.

 

Regular Backups Aren’t Ideal for WooCommerce Sites

Regular backup solutions are not an ideal fit for WooCommerce sites. Transactions on online stores don’t occur at regular intervals. However, when they do happen, they are important and all of the data related to the transactions needs to be backed up. This cannot wait till the end of the interval which may be at the end of the day or the end of the hour.

Losing Orders– The “Oh, NO!” Moment

As we mentioned, on online stores orders trickle round-the-clock. The rate of orders received may vary through any given day, but all orders are equally important.

Just like, orders, the “Oh, NO!” moment can occur at any time of the day. Your website may start malfunctioning or crash at any given point of the day. Waiting for regular backups to backup hourly or daily would mean losing details about orders and transactions made on your website.

Frequent Backups Can Be Resource Intensive

If you decide to run regular backups frequently to avoid losing orders, then you will end up slowing down your site. If your backup plugin is performing backups every few minutes, then your server resources are split between making backups and responding to requests made by the visitors to your site. This will harm the user-experience. Lags in page load times or site performance is as good as turning away potential customers.

 

Real-time Backup for WooCommerce Sites Is the Answer

A backup solution needs to be comprehensive in backing up all the changes while making efficient use of resources to ensure that user-experience is not affected. Real-time backups is the answer for WooCommerce sites. However, not all real-time backup solutions are the same. Knowing what real-time backups do and knowing how different real-time backup solutions perform backups may make or break your site’s backup strategy.

What Are Real-time Backups?

Real-time backup tracks and save the changes to your site as and when they happen. For example, if a customer places an order on your website then that change is immediately tracked and saved. This ensures that you have the most up-to-date backups from which you can restore your site; and more importantly not lose any orders.

 

The Challenge of Backing Up WooCommerce Sites

WooCommerce sites cannot be backed up like regular WordPress sites.

A WordPress site has two parts– Files & Database. Database contains information about posts, pages and users apart from other things. In short, the database contains all the content on your site. Such information is stored in the form of tables on your WordPress site. These tables are known as standard tables and come with every WordPress installation.

However, a WooCommerce site has additional information to store which are all important to your business. To store this information, WooCommerce installs custom tables on your WordPress site when the WooCommerce plugin is installed. This is in addition to the standard WordPress tables. Below is a list of some WooCommerce tables and the information they contain.

WooCommerce installs custom tables to store information related to e-commerce stores

You cannot afford to not have backups because piecing together items, payment and shipping information for every order can be laborious and it is time that you simply cannot afford.

The immediate financial loss resulting from downtime is only around 1/5th of the overall loss according to estimates. The loss of trust in a potential buyer in returning to your site will continue to harm your revenues even after your site is up and running. This dip in trust, and orders; as part of the after-effect of downtime is said to account for the remaining 4/5th of the loss resulting from downtime.

 

Regular Real-time Backups Don’t Do the Trick for WooCommerce Sites

To be up and running as quickly as possible without losing data is the goal. To completely backup your WooCommerce site, it is obvious that your backup solution will need to backup both standard tables and WooCommerce custom tables in real-time.

Regular real-time backup solutions; however, do not backup custom tables installed by the WooCommerce plugin. This is a big problem because all the orders and payments are stored on the custom tables installed by the WooCommerce plugin. This renders regular real-time backups completely ineffective for WooCommerce sites.

Ask About the Method of Making Real-time Backups

Even if you find a real-time backup solution which backs up standard tables and WooCommerce custom tables; like BlogVault does, the method of making backups may impact the performance of your website and the efficacy of your backups. Broadly, there are two models of making real-time backups– the push model and the pull model.

First let us take a look at the push model…

Push Model of Making Real-time Backups

With the push model, your site ‘pings’ the backup server that an ‘event’ has occurred. The backup server then checks for what changes have occurred and then saves them to the backup server.

The Problem

With the push model, your site ‘pings’ the backup server that an ‘event’ has occurred

You can see that the push model requires constant communication between your site and the backup server. Although this seems like a good idea, chances are that the performance of the WordPress site may be suffering.

As in the case of frequent regular backups, with the push model your server resources are split between responding to requests made by your visitors and performing backups. This adversely impacts your site load times, and in turn your bottom line. Only 12% of people will wait an additional 5 seconds for a website to load.

Along with your site performance your backup speed may also suffer. If servers are overloaded, then there may be delays in performing backups; or worse backups may not happen at all. Such delays mean that the push model may not always offer ‘real-time’ backups after all.

The alternative is the pull model of real-time backups; and this where BlogVault comes into the picture.

 

Intelligent Real-time Backups by BlogVault

BlogVault’s real-time backup follows the pull model; and focuses on being comprehensive and efficient. Changes to your WordPress site are immediately tracked and saved on the site itself. The BlogVault (BV) servers checks for changes every 5 mins. and ‘pulls’ those changes to BV servers. Once the changes are securely saved to BV’s servers, then the next set of changes on the site are tracked and saved.

The pull model ensures that all the changes are saved without making excessive demands on your site’s server resources.

The pull model ensures that all the changes are saved without making excessive demands on your site’s server resources. The backup process doesn’t affect your site performance.

BlogVault Backs Up WooCommerce Tables As Well

Apart from utilizing the resource-efficient pull model for real-time backups, BlogVault backs up custom WooCommerce tables as well. This ensures that none of the data related to your orders is lost upon restoring your site.

If your backup solution does not automatically backup WooCommerce tables as well then it is not a viable option for e-commerce sites.

 

You Can’t Afford Not to Have Real-time Backups

Real-time backups are a real need for WooCommerce sites. While calculating the cost of downtime it is also important to understand the cost of not having an efficient solution for WooCommerce backups.

 

Frequent WordPress backups contribute greatly towards efficient your WordPress restores. The battle is between resource consuming hourly backups and infrequent backups which increase the risk of data loss. Do you know what is the right answer?

The frequency of WordPress backups is a much-discussed topic. At BlogVault we believe that ideally, WordPress sites must be backed up at least once a day. This is a logical idea when you consider that all backups are meant for recovering your site. This means you want to minimize data loss, when you restore your WordPress site.

Daily backups, however, is not a ‘golden frequency’. Different types of sites require backups to be made at different frequencies. Daily backups strike a balance between minimizing data loss and not consuming too many resources of your WordPress site’s servers. Backing up more frequently, however; especially when done inefficiently, may affect your site’s performance. On the other hand, backing up infrequently, like on a weekly/monthly backup schedule may mean that you lose substantial amount of data.

 

How frequently do you backup your WordPress site?

 

WordPress Backup Frequency

 

Why Make Daily Backups?

We mentioned that daily backups ensure that updates to all the posts and pages of your site are saved. WordPress users who manage smaller sites may feel that daily backups are not as important. This may be because the website is not updated with new content. However, we have to remember that WordPress sites are run on plugins and themes which are updated often. Older backups will not contain these updates and restoring them is not very efficient. This can also cause security concerns as plugin and theme updates include security updates too.

 

Restoring from Older WordPress Backups

If older backups are restored, then you may have to go back and update all the plugins, themes and may be even WordPress core. This may not be feasible in case you own multiple sites or have many plugins and and themes on your site.

Also, backups bring up compatibility issues. In case you restore older backups, then you can only test these issues after the site has been restored and the updates are made. However, the more recent the backup, the easier it is to test for functionality. Of course, with a WordPress backup service like BlogVault you can test your backups with a single click.

 

What Type of WordPress Site Do You Have?

 

E-commerce sites & Popular Blogs

While daily backups are a great option, for e-commerce and popular blogs it still may not be enough. For e-commerce sites, it is crucial to track transactions, data on pending orders, and the delivery status of orders with utmost immediacy. For popular blogs, comments and content can be generated very regularly; and this includes news sites. In such cases, real-time backups is the answer.

 

Real-time Backups for WordPress Sites

Backups in real-time are meant to save every change as soon as the changes are made, (or at least as quickly as possible). The concern with this is of course the effect on WordPress site-performance. However, when done right, real-time WordPress backups can be a comprehensive solution.

Real-time backup solutions for WordPress sites track changes and backup only those changes to the site as quickly as possible. Since only the changes are backed up, even large sites with frequent updates and changes can be completely backed up without affecting site performance. However, there are different methods to achieve this result and results vary depending on how effectively your backup plugin does the job.

 

Frequency is Key to Having Secure WordPress Backups

If backups do not allow you to make efficient restores then the point has been missed. Making daily or real-time backups are key to having functional backups which are ready for restores. A WordPress backup service, can allow you to not only automate the frequency of your backups; but also ensure that your backups follow other best practices of WordPress backups as well.

 

Why do you need it?

Can your business continue to function if you were to lose your data? If your answer is a clear no, then having a disaster recovery plan is a must for you. At some point down the road, your data is going to be in danger. It could be a machine error. It could be a simple human error. It could be a tornado the size of Nebraska. But sooner or later, you’re going to be in a situation where you’re at risk of losing some or all of your data. Some of the common consequences of a disaster –

  • Loss of business/customers
  • Loss of credibility/goodwill
  • Cash flow problems
  • Loss of operational data
  • Financial loss

90% of businesses that lose data from a disaster are forced to shut down within 2 years of the disaster. 50% of businesses experiencing a computer outage will be forced to shut within 5 years. (Source: London Chamber of Commerce). So, having a disaster recovery plan is the best insurance for your business and entire data. But what are the possible reasons behind this ‘disaster’? And how do you deal with them?

It's wise to have a recovery plan for your website
It’s wise to have a recovery plan for your WordPress site

What Can Go Wrong?

Hardware Failure

While we’ve made huge strides in terms of technology, it’s still not perfect. There are bound to be issues now and then. Hard disks, which are the most popular form of storage media, fail more often than you think. The statistical figure indicated is by no means trivial. Other forms of hardware failure can have a similar impact on your business.

Web-hosting Failure

As every site is hosted using one of the providers, a failure on their end undoubtedly spells disaster. Any sort of networking problem can bring down your site. However, this doesn’t pose a big threat to your data. But that’s not the end of it. These hosting providers are a common target of hackers. Once the server is compromised, the hackers have access to all the data that resides on it. The hackers can thus attack 1000s of site by hacking a single provider. Sometimes, hosting providers even suspend your account without prior notice.

Natural Calamities

Natural calamities, though rare, can pose a huge threat to your data. Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York City in 2012, had companies fighting hard to keep their data centers up. It was one of the busiest days for many of them.

WordPress Issues

WordPress, though WP core is known to be stable, has its own share of problems that crop up from time to time. The most common issue that users face is that of version incompatibility. Though WordPress versions are meant to be backward compatible, quite often, a WordPress update ends up breaking a plugin or theme due to incompatibility. Underlying API changes in a new version could also result in breaking parts of your site.

Plugin/ Theme Issues

WordPress is an open platform, inviting a lot of people to develop plugins and themes. Since each plugin and theme is written independently, not all of them follow the same set of coding guidelines and standards. This makes installing new themes and plugins on your site a risky proposition. A new addition may be incompatible with the underlying WordPress version. Some of the changes made by plugins and themes are –

  • Bad database changes
  • Addition of new tables
  • Modification of standard WordPress tables
  • Changing WordPress configuration files
  • Introducing incompatible code
  • Corruption of .htaccess files

This can result in breaking parts of your site or worse, lead to a crash. Upgrading plugins and themes can also lead to similar issues.

Hacks and Vulnerabilities

WordPress core, by itself, is known to be safe and stable. However, plugins and themes added by developers hailing from diverse backgrounds have become game changers when it comes to WordPress security. Plugins and themes together make up the biggest source of  vulnerabilities found in recent times. Popular plugins like MailPoet, W3Total Cache and Super Cache have been exploited to attack thousands of sites. Similarly, themes are also vulnerable to attacks. The TimThumb library included in many themes was exploited to compromise tons of sites.

Hackers are always looking for new ways to launch attacks on WordPress sites. While most hackers look to make quick profits, some do it merely for fun. They can install malware that’s extremely hard to detect and get rid of. They can also wipe out all of your site’s data.

Human Errors

To err is human. But these errors can prove to be very costly. You can delete a single post or the entire database. Ben Congleton of Olark describes in an interview, a case where a human error nearly took down his business.

The reason behind the disaster can vary, but they will all impact you in the same way. They can all potentially take down your site, and thus your business. So what is the best possible plan to recover from a disaster?

Putting Together a Disaster Recovery Plan

Backup, Backup, Backup: the Cornerstone of a Disaster Recovery Plan

Not enough emphasis can be laid on the importance of backups. Taking regular backups of your data is critical for any business. That way if anything untoward happens, you can recover your site in a matter of few minutes. There are multiple options available from which you can choose. However, it is best to opt for a managed offsite backup service like BlogVault that can handle any situation with ease.

Plan for Extended Downtime

Your plan should cover what you will do if the downtime from the disaster is expected to last more than a few days. For instance, there may be a major outage with your hosting provider. You’ll need to identify possible alternatives to host your site.

Emergency Contact

A natural disaster or emergency could cut off all your regular avenues of communication, so adding a communications element to your plan is important as well. Notifying your customers about the downtime is extremely important. However, when you lose data, your customer information is lost too. Hence it is critical that you have a separate emergency contact list, such as all customer email IDs, stored separately in an easily accessible place.

Test the Plan

Do a test run of your disaster recovery plan to make sure that it works when needed. Also ensure that your plan is known to multiple people at your company so that they can spring into action immediately when disaster strikes.

Disasters do happen, and your company’s data is one of its most important assets. When disaster strikes, you need to be sure that you can get your data back quickly, so there is minimal impact to your business. So work on that disaster recovery plan today, in case you already haven’t. Better safe than sorry, right?

Real-time WordPress Backup is blogVault’s latest offering. Using Real-time WordPress Backup, you can save every update to your WordPress site almost immediately. Any addition to your site in the form of a new post, comment, plugin, or theme is backed up almost immediately after.

Real-time WordPress Backup is based on the basic building block of WordPress – Hooks. Modifying the core files to add new functionality in WordPress is a big no-no. Hooks provide the means of achieving this goal without having to touch the core files. Using hooks, you can add your own code to various parts of WordPress, without modifying the original files. These hooks are triggered whenever the desired action occurs. Some examples of hooks are –

  • When you create a new post, run a custom code
  • When you generate the content for each post, add social bookmarking links to the end of the content

real-time wordpress backup - add hooks

blogVault uses hooks to implement Real-time WordPress Backup. The hooks help blogVault in identifying which parts of the site underwent a change so that it can start backing up data. It listens to specific triggers like addition of a new post or a comment, installation of a new plugin or theme, editing of a post, etc. Whenever such actions occur, blogVault immediately contacts the server to know the exact change. It then starts a backup immediately.

real-time wordpress backup - hook triggered

Will Real-time WordPress Backup work for every change that your site undergoes? Unfortunately, no. The hooks that we just learnt about are only triggered for standard WordPress updates. For instance, updates to custom tables in the database by certain plugins will not trigger hooks. Moreover, some plugins may not use standard APIs in their code and thus will not trigger the corresponding hooks.

Real-time WordPress Backup is a good strategy to have in place if your site is constantly updated throughout the day. With blogVault’s Real-time WordPress Backup, you can rest at peace knowing you’ll never have to worry about losing any data, ever.