Here are top ten important features that Hosting Providers should offer their customers for Site Backup.

I have already emphasized the need for backup. So, I am going to quickly get straight to the point.

  • Customer control - Backups should be managed by customers themselves, allowing them to stay on top of their site backup. Customer should be responsible for ensuring that backups run everyday. This is better than keeping customer completely unaware of their site backup. This also reduces hosting server backups to config files, which is faster and takes less server resources.
  • Lightweight - Backups should not slow down hosting server resources. We all know that Hosting industry is very competitive and managing profitability is important. We simply cannot afford to hog server resources.
  • Speed - Backups should not take more than few minutes to complete. This ensures that FTP connections are released quickly. Having the backup server near Hosting servers ensures this. Call it world's fastest backup if you like ;)
  • Concurrency limit - During peaktime of office hours, webhosting servers are heavily utilized, during which backups are a lower priority than serving sites. Backups should allow rate limiting of total number of connections to the web host, for specific hours. This allows customers to use maximum FTP connections.
  • File Change monitoring - Customer should be notified about file changes on the site. Customer is the only one who can confirm that the change was unauthorized, and can take action.
  • Malware Scanning & Anti Virus - Backups should have malware scanning and anti virus, to protect site from blacklisting. Having these scans offline, helps save a lot on hosting server resources. Backups should be able to detect vulnerable scripts and notify customer to take action.
  • Versioning - Backups should be able to maintain site revisions from the day of first backup, allowing customer to view change history and be able to perform Restores. Web files and database should be revisioned separately, to provide granular level reverts.
  • Security - Backups & Login credentials have to be encrypted on storage, with least industry standard AES 256 bit. The backup server should be completely locked down with no access to any system administrator. All manageability features should be available on control panel. Secure transit of insecure FTP credentials, by using tunnelling protocols, adds protection from bad neighbors.
  • Remote Copy(ies) - Backups should keep remote copy or copies of the backup in different Geo locations, for Disaster Management. These copies of data should have the same level of security as the Backup Servers.
  • Differential Backups - Only the first backup should download all files. Subsequent backups should find difference and only download the difference.

A worthy mention is to Monitor the servers centrally to handle storage disk failures, and timely swapping. Backup Disk Redundancy is a key factor for fault tolerance. Hosting providers can choose between:-

  • RAID1 - Store data on 2 drives with data cloned on both drives
  • RAID5 - Store data in 3 or more drives, and can handle 1 drive failure
  • RAID6 - Store data in 4 or more drives, and can handle 2 drive failures
  • RAID10 - Store data in 4 (or multiples of 2 drives), with data cloned on every pair of drives. This can handle n(where n is number of pairs) of drive failures. Usual choice!
  • Spare drives can be used to kick in automatically on any drive failure
  • Distributed storage architecture for scalability and server failure tolerance. It can handle multiple server failures, depending on configuration.

The above features can be chosen based on what the customer is willing to pay for or whatever is viable.

That is all ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for reading.