Back ups don’t have much to do with your idea directly, but I wanted to talk about them because they are an important part of making reliable changes to improve your site -- and keep your data safe.
I would hate for you to begin making changes and accidentally cause a problem you can’t recover from.
And that’s why backups are important. They give you a way to recover in the event something happens or you make so many changes that you don’t remember how to revert back, the back ups act as a safety net for you.
Partly as safety and partly as a way to give you confidence that you can make changes without worry of totally decimating your site.
Nothing worse than being all excited to make changes that you hope will increase the performance of your website only to break it completely.
Here, using your host’s back up is fine. Usually somewhere in the dashboard there will be a back ups option with the ability to make a manual back up, sometimes referred to as a snapshot.
In Closte for example, you:
- Click Sites
- Click the dashboard button next to the site you want to take backups of
- Click Backups in the left menu
- Then click Manual Backup
- Enter a note in the popup and then click the green backup button
That's it. You have a fresh backup and are ready to begin making the performance tweaks you learn throughout this course.
The backup tools offered by most hosts will be similar.
Or you could use a service like ManageWP and pay $2/month to add the backup service to your account and then you can have an offsite backup of your website.
This is actually a safe practice and maybe something you would want long-term for the safety of your website, but it isn’t necessary during the performance course.
Another method could be using a backup plug-in to stream a backup of your site down to your local computer. Any number of popular backup plug-ins will be able to do this for you.
I recommend the Updraft Plus plugin. It's the single most popular backup plugin and will streamline the backup process for you (and you can't go wrong when huge names like the NBA use it).
You can even set it up to drop the backup files in cloud storage like DropBox or Amazon S3 -- which I advise you to do rather than leaving the backup files on your host server.
Leaving the backup files on your host server will take up storage space and also means if there is a problem with your host you won't have access to the files. Kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it?
But for our needs in this performance course, you could easily run a backup and then download it before making changes.
Finally, you could use the built-in WordPress export feature to download a copy of the data within your webpage.
Just remember that you want to take a back up right before you start making changes so you have a safe restore point to come back to you if you need it.
Slight warning: if your website handles transactions and logs sales, this information is vital to the operation of your business. You should probably make a staging site version of your site before testing changes.
This way you can make all of your tests and changes to your staging site first and verify everything works before applying those changes to your life site .
Many hosts offer a staging site capability with the added feature of pushing the changes to your live site for you.
Here you need to be careful not to push database changes that may cause data quality problems for your business.
Be careful of data/transaction issues
A typical blog that doesn’t sell anything probably won’t have many problems here.
But if you’re selling something and have transactions happening between the time you create your staging site (or backup), and when you may need to recover from it, you may lose some amount of transaction information between when the backup was taken and when the back up is restored.
I’m only telling you this to make sure that you have this in mind, which you probably already do if you’re selling something through your website.
A backup does create a safety net but remember, it is a snapshot in time, and anything after that snapshot in time could be lost — so be prepared for that scenario.
That said, we are only making performance tweaks, and there’s very little chance that you blow up your website — and anywhere that could be possible, I will warn you so you can make an informed decision if you want to make those changes or not.