Your WooCommerce store has loads of customer data in its database and there are new ones coming every now and then. In case of a failure, all this valuable data might be lost and it could potentially bring your business back to square one.
Odds are against you and your store as it just a matter of one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.
You just need one failed element to start losing money
WooCommerce relies extensively on themes and plugins that can be added for a variety of purposes. Sometimes, ill-maintained or poorly coded products can cause your website to crash. What's worse is that using these incompatible plugins or themes on your website might result in losses for your company.
Things don't get easier as there could be several reasons for your website to go down. But if you're using an incompatible plugin or version of a theme on your WooCommerce store, you're paving your business path with a lot of future headaches. As WordPress developer and Codeable expert Shadi Manna explains:
I had a client, who had 16,000 orders, and one plugin was simply crashing their site all the time. They weren't aware of that. All we needed to do was disable it. And this was costing them a lot of money because it will crash their site every few days. So it's very important to only use also reputable plugins by companies that work with WooCommerce, understand what WooCommerce does, and provide well-maintained and tested products.
When you think that just a single element could tear down your entire WooCommerce business, you might get scared of going out of business, if that ever happens to you.
That's why backups are so (darn) indispensable for any website.
Why is a backup strategy so important?
To prevent your heartbeat from skyrocketing each time you load your store pages, there's one thing you can start working on now, and of which we're all firm supporters here at Codeable: have a solid backup strategy in place.
Having backups in place from the start allows you to be insured against any loss in the future which might be immense if your store has grown in size over time. If your WooCommerce store crashes, it is like your retail outlet suddenly shuts down. The consequence? You lose customers shopping at that point in time!
With a WooCommerce store, you might lose much more than that as it could result in potential loss of customer history too, causing greater damages to your business and harder times getting back on track. As Shadi highlights the need for a backup:
Backup is a very important topic in general for websites, but it's particularly important for WooCommerce sites because it's a transactional website as opposed to a more "static" WordPress website. When you have transactions occurring on the website continuously, such as new accounts, new orders, anything which is stored on your site, it is vital for you to have backups because you're losing customer data, if anything were to happen to the server. This could be thousands of dollars lost because of these failed transactions.
Having a backup strategy means setting up an automated system through which you can generate exact copies of your WooCommerce store, mainly your database where all of the important data is stored.
But here's the twist many often forget to mention
A solid backup strategy is strictly linked to your hosting provider. You'll see why in a second.
Why choosing a reliable hosting service is so crucial to your backup strategy?
Hosts are typically responsible for placing and keeping your site over the internet. That's the basic offer, I'd say. But if things go south with your WooCommerce store, you'd want a quick way to have a running backup of your store and a smooth process to restore it as fast as you can, wouldn't you?
Unfortunately, these types of features don't usually come with the cheapest solutions you find on the market. Yet, for a small business owner who maybe can't rely on in-house technical staff, they're worth every single dime in the long run. As Shadi highlights:
Picking the right hosting provider is crucial. It's extremely important for WooCommerce sites to have reputable hosts that are familiar with WooCommerce, they understand the implications of losing data, they have great backup systems, they have great servers, great uptime. I typically recommend the WP Engine and SiteGround type hosts that manage only WordPress-type websites and are very familiar with WooCommerce, and can even give advice on these types of things.
Choosing a reliable hosting provider puts your business in the hands of someone who understands your business, has the infrastructure it might require, and might anticipate some of the issues you've experienced in the past and suggests solutions or partners you can reach if needed.
But let's dig deeper into an important yet often neglected aspect of a good hosting provider. Specifically, their "getting your store back online" feature, or what it's usually referred to as the restore process of your WooCommerce store.
How does your hosting provider relate to the restore process of your store?
Having a reputable and reliable hosting service is key to being in control of your store's availability. Specifically, the host's server size, configurations, and infrastructure stack make a huge difference to the number of downtimes you might incur.
For many small businesses, the easiest way to restore their WooCommerce store would be to just click a button and revert everything up to a previously recorded and fully-functioning instance.
Think about it for a second: what if you had to call in and hire a developer or a sysadmin each time your WooCommerce goes offline? Would your budget be able to make room for that? Well, you know how paying for quality tools and services it's always worthy. And when it comes to the easiness of backup and restore process, that means looking for higher level providers, namely WordPress managed hosting providers.
As Shadi further comments:
For small businesses, most of the time it's in the hands of the host providers in terms of the server uptime, and in terms of the backups. I would suggest using a reputable host who's familiar with WooCommerce and WordPress and how the database works. They have backups so you can easily restore them, and you should have one-click restores where you can restore the site right away.
Easy-to-perform and efficient restore is necessary because all the time the website is down, you're losing customers.
Why backup and restoration for large businesses is a different game
The dynamics of backup and restore processes are completely different for larger WooCommerce stores for they have greater traffic and customer volumes. With more elaborate setups, they need more effective systems for backing their data and being able to get it back in case of a crash.
These include, for example, having their own servers and data mirroring, i.e. a duplicate backup for the database created every minutes or so to lower the chances of losing data. Shadi notes:
With bigger WooCommerce stores, I'd suggest to really hone in on the backup strategy and set up hourly backups, or, in some cases, might even do some mirroring of the whole database every five minutes, if the shop is that popular and large. This setup is complex and should be performed only by experienced developers who know how WooCommerce works. This can't be stressed enough: if your database was to crash, you would be losing all of the transactional data within that time, to when the latest backup was made and there would be no way to retrieve it.
Beyond hosting: When it comes to backups, it's never "too much"
Backups are never enough and there are plenty of plugins who can take care of that for you, either free or paid. You just have to pick one, configure it, and fire it up in your WooCommerce install to clear the worst case scenario off your head.
That's just the bare minimum, though, as you should enhance your backup strategy with several ways to make and store your backups and a more thorough process to follow when your store goes offline.
Snapshot of your database, mirroring, offline backups are just some of the many ways you could have a better backup and restoration plan for your store. If you care about your WooCommerce business, getting a WooCommerce expert setting a solid backup strategy plan for you might be more than helpful.
Backups are sort of insurance policies: you have to have them, hoping you'll never need them. When it comes to your WooCommerce store, backups are your fail-safe mechanisms in case things go awry and help you avoid major losses. But backups alone are just one side of the coin, as without the ability to seamlessly restore them would end up being a major business drag. That's where your hosting plays a prevailing role over any backup plugin solutions you might pick.
Given that you can easily and cost-effectively change your backup plugins, picking the right hosting provider for your business is a more difficult choice as it'd be tougher to move your store to a new provider than just installing a new backup plugin. So invest some time on it and, when in doubt, ask a developer what's your best call based on your configuration.
Shadi Manna is the founder of Progressus Marketing and Certified WooCommerce Expert and Consultant with more than 10 years of experience working with WooCommerce Development, Conversation Rate Optimization (CRO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He is focused on creating an optimized User Experience (UX) for your eCommerce website by considering both CRO and SEO implications, in order to ensure you are getting the most from your store.