Amazon S3 is one of the popular names in cloud storage today. It provides a simple way to backup and archive data. Let us have a look at how the two popular WordPress backup plugins, UpdraftPlus and blogVault, use Amazon S3 for storing backups.
UpdraftPlus supports the use of Amazon S3 as its remote destination. So you can use your own S3 account to store and view backups from within your WordPress site. In order to do this, you need to first add Amazon S3 as a remote destination by specifying your keys and location. It is recommended that you test the settings before saving them.
On completing the above step, UpdraftPlus goes on to use Amazon S3 for storing your backups. You can view all your backups from within the WordPress site. However, instead of storing your entire site as a single backup file, it does a four way split for database, plugins, themes, and others. Each backup thus ends up creating four files in your storage location. If we’re going in for daily backups, it translates to 150 backup files in a month. This can easily become unmanageable over time.
Though most WordPress plugins allow you to use your own S3 for storage, they store the keys used to copy the backup on the site itself. UpdraftPlus also follows this approach while using S3 storage. If your site gets hacked, the hackers gain access to your keys too. The hackers will not only destroy your site but your entire S3 account using these keys. Your S3 backups are not safe when you use your own account to store them.
You can restore your site to any of the available backups using the Restore option. This is mostly useful when you’re trying to fix a botched upgrade or issues during development. However, if your site crashes and you re-install the plugin, the available S3 backups don’t get listed automatically. The only option in this case is it to restore your site manually which is tedious and time consuming. Moreover, the old backup files aren’t deleted by the plugin automatically. If you continue using the same Dropbox account once you restore the site, the new backups will coexist along with the old ones making it hard to manage for the customer.
Apart from security there is the issue of cost too. S3 backups don’t come for free and you’ll be charged based on usage. This can be a real damper for small organizations or individual bloggers who are already shelling out for the plugin itself. Complete backups for large sites especially amount to a lot of money when it comes to using S3 for storage.
S3 backups don’t come for free and you’ll be charged based on usage. Complete backups for large sites especially amount to a lot of money when it comes to using S3 for storage. For example, daily backups for a site of about 500MB in size will cost 15GB per month for storage alone. This can be a real damper for small organizations or individual bloggers who are already shelling out for the plugin itself.
blogVault also uses Amazon S3 as its offsite storage location but not that of its customer’s. blogVault maintains multiple copies of backups on its own servers as well as its own Amazon S3 account. It reserves 5GB of storage exclusively for each customer and utilizes this space intelligently through incremental backups. So you don’t have to pay for additional storage when you choose the blogVault plugin.
blogVault provides a complete backup service by managing the backups for you. In fact, the customers are completely oblivious to where the backups are stored or how multiple copies are managed. Once you add a site to the blogVault dashboard, daily automatic backups are scheduled and you can view a list of all backups from the History page. All the actions such as migration, restore, and on demand backup are also listed on the dashboard. blogVault abstracts all the underlying technicalities so that you don’t have to worry about anything.
As blogVault uses its own S3 account, the keys are stored in a secure location and not included within the site. Backups are entirely independent of your site and hence 100% safe.