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Pointers on safeguarding e-commerce data

Backups are an insurance policy for your online store that you hope to never use. Unfortunately, many backups are not adequate.

The purpose of a backup is to recover the code and data in your store. This could be a partial loss, as the accidental deletion of a popular product. Or it can be the loss of your entire store, for example when a server is hacked and its content is deleted.

Backups should put your online store up and running.

But the type of backup you use, and the speed of recovery, depends on your hosting provider or your platform. The disaster recovery process of the host should at least recover the servers. Your own backups must provide code and data.

Who is responsible?

Most hosts offer some level of backups automatically. They usually keep at least two copies of your data, usually through multiple disks called RAID – redundant array of independent disks.

In addition, hosts often take full copies of a server and store them on separate devices in the data center. These can be complementary services to your accommodation plan. They are generally inexpensive and easy to configure, sometimes with just a few clicks.

E-commerce platforms sometimes have additional backup options. For example, Shopify and BigCommerce allow the export of some data for backups, but it is a manual (and incomplete) process.

Thus, each store can use its own backup system to ensure that all data is captured.

What to back up

For a backup to be usable, it must include everything your shop needs to run from scratch. It will depend on how your shop is hosted. It may include:

  • Code (if you are not on a hosted platform).
  • Databases.
  • Resource files, such as images, videos, PDF files.
  • Configurations and settings.
  • Themes or design layout if they are not included in the code.
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A common mistake in backups is to back up only part of the data, such as backing up the database and theme, but not the product images or saving the configuration files. . Often, inadequate backups are only discovered in case of emergency.

Even if your hosting company performs backups, it is useful to have your own versions. Sometimes backups fail. Sometimes there are one or two missing files. Or sometimes you need an object for a long time and the backups have been recycled.

When to back up

Almost all types of backups solicit your server, which slows down performance. Many companies run backups outside of office hours when the store is not as busy. It may work fine, but there are caveats.

  • If the backup process is too aggressive, the store may stop responding. This could have an impact on buyers (and wake up development staff in the middle of the night).
  • If your store sells globally, it may not be out of order.
  • Scheduling night backups involves once a day. This could be acceptable if the loss of a whole day of data is an acceptable risk.

An alternative is to continuously backup your store as long as it does not slow down your store too much. In addition, save some historical copies of your data so that a backup of the incorrect data does not mistakenly replace the correct version.


Testing your backups is important. A backup is not a success until you have restored it and all the data is confirmed. This process can be slow and prone to errors when done manually. Automated restoration is much better.

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The ability to partially restore from a backup is useful. Many types of backups require a complete restore – backup replaces all, losing changes since the backup was performed.

A partial or incremental restore selects what is restored, sometimes in the individual file. This can be useful for simple mistakes, such as deleting a landing page.


Once you have created a backup system, document it. Even a single page explaining how backups are done and where they are stored will save you time when you rush to restore everything.

And do not save the page on the same server as your shop! Put it where it is accessible when your store goes offline. My favorite is a combination of a Google document and a downloaded copy.