Do you keep backups of my files?

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We make a full backup of your files, databases, and any e-mail stored on our servers every night.

On this page:

Reviewing available backups

You can use the “My Account” control panel to see the backups that have been made for your site:

  • Login to the “My Account” control panel (having trouble?)
  • Click Backups

You'll see a complete list of all backups that are currently available.

What is the “Backup ID”?

The “Backup ID” shown in the list is a unique identifying number you can tell us if you ask us to restore files for you instead of doing it yourself.

Making extra backups

You can make an additional backup (which is useful just before upgrading software on your site, for example).

  • Login to the “My Account” control panel (having trouble?)
  • Click Backups
  • Choose the click here to make a backup now option.

When you do so, a message will appear saying “A backup is currently in progress and will appear here in a few minutes”, with a link to refresh the page to see the backup status. If you want to know when the backup is done, you can reload the page every so often until the “backup is currently in progress” message disappears.

Accessing backups using FTP

You can access your backups using an FTP program like FileZilla.

To do this:

  1. Add an additional FTP account that has access to your “home directory”.
  2. Use your FTP program to connect using that new FTP username.
  3. View the contents of the backups-tigertech directory (folder) and copy files to your own computer.

The name of each backup directory is the time (U.S. Pacific time) that the backup finished. There's also a special directory named "current" that always points to the most recent backup.

If you don’t see the “backups-tigertech” directory, you probably didn’t use an FTP account with access to your home directory. You usually have to add an additional FTP account. This is for security reasons, since the backups contain e-mail and databases beyond what you can normally see with a website FTP connection.

Note that the home directory is different from the web directory that the “add FTP user” screen defaults to. Be sure to choose the home directory!

The backups are "read-only" — you can view, download and copy them, but you won't be able to delete or modify them.

By the way, the reason you have to create a separate FTP username to access backups is that they can contain much more than just current web files. They contain e-mail files, databases, files that have since been deleted for security, and so on — things that a web designer might not be supposed to see.

Accessing backups from the shell

Advanced users can also access backups from the command-line shell. You'd just change to the "backups-tigertech" directory and browse the files:

cd ~/backups-tigertech

Accessing backups using rsync

Customers on Mac, Linux or other Unix-like computers can use the rsync program from the terminal to make copies of backups on their own computer. This example rsync command shows how:

rsync -av example.com@example.com:/home/ex/example.com/backups-tigertech/current/ site-backup/

This will require your account password when run manually, but you can add “keys” to connect without a password and automate this. (That page is about “SSH keys”, but that’s correct: rsync uses ssh.)

The Using rsync to Keep Your Files in Sync page at techradar has a useful rsync tutorial.

Restoring files

You can usually restore files yourself. Just use an FTP program to access the files you need from an older backup (using an additional FTP account, as described above), then re-publish them. (We also have separate instructions for restoring MySQL databases.)

If you would like us to do it for you, please contact us. Be sure to mention:

  1. The “Backup ID” of the backup we should restore (from the control panel listing).
  2. What we should restore: files? databases? e-mail?
  3. Whether you want all the files, databases and e-mail mailboxes restored, or just specific ones.

Accounts on our Basic Hosting or Plus Hosting plans include one free restore in any 12 month period, and the Business Hosting plan includes 2 free restores. If you need more than that within a 12 month period, there’s a fee of $25 for the next restore, and $50 for each subsequent restore. Again, you can avoid any fees by accessing the backup files yourself using FTP or the shell.

To encourage customers to keep their sites updated, we waive fees for restores that are needed solely to fix problems that result from clicking to update anything shown in the WordPress dashboard “Updates” section, or Joomla updates.

Are they daily, weekly or monthly backups? How long are they stored?

Our system attempts to keep at least the following backups:

  • The last five daily backups
  • A backup made 7-13 days ago and a backup made 14-20 days ago (two "weekly" backups)
  • A backup made 30-60 days ago (a "monthly" backup)

Backups from other days are usually also available. See your control panel for an exact list.

What gets backed up?

Backups include all of the files for your account, including:

E-mail backups

Your e-mail messages are located in the "mailstore" directory of your home directory, and are therefore backed up automatically.

However, we can only back up messages that are actually on our servers. This includes all new (unread) mail and all mail you can see in Webmail. It will not include old (previously read) incoming messages if you read mail using a program like Outlook on your own computer and you've configured that e-mail program to delete messages from the server when you read them.

So if you use your own mail program instead of Webmail, and that program deletes messages from the server after they've been read, your computer will have the only copy of the old messages. You'd need to back up your own computer to make a backup of that old incoming mail and your sent mail.

If you want our backup system to store copies of your old incoming messages, too, you should make sure your mail program leaves messages on our servers after you read them. With an IMAP connection, this will happen automatically; with a POP connection, you may need to change a setting in your mail program.

Finally, keep in mind that we can only back up e-mail that's stored in a mailbox on our servers. Any messages that you simply forward to another site will never reach our backup system in the first place. (Whoever handles the final delivery should be backing them up there, of course.)

Restoring e-mail is more complicated than restoring other files. If you’re a technically advanced user comfortable using the command-line shell, we offer a script called restore-email that will offer to restore all deleted mail files from all available backups. You would run it like this:

restore-email address@example.com

Running this will show you what messages can be restored before it actually does anything (it may take several minutes for the script to display anything if you have thousands of messages.) The script does have some options that can be used to narrow down what gets restored, which you can see by typing:

restore-email --help

For more complicated restoration scenarios, or if you aren't comfortable using the shell, you’ll need to contact us.

MySQL database backups

MySQL databases are also included in the daily backups. Each database is exported ("dumped") into a file that is available in the "mysql" directory of each backup.

Please read this page for information about backing up and restoring databases.

Are the backups on-site or off-site?

We make both on-site backups (for quick retrieval) and off-site backups (for disaster recovery).

The backups listed in your control panel are the on-site backups, although they are on separate physical disks on separate servers to increase redundancy. They're not just "snapshots" on the same disk, like the "backups" offered by some companies.

We also make daily off-site backups of your data. The off-site backups are stored in a different data center run by a different company. The off-site backup servers use strong security practices to block malicious attacks that could damage the primary backup servers. For example, we don't allow SSH connections to the off-site backup servers, ensuring that a "zero day remote root vulnerability" can't be used by "hackers" to destroy all backup data.

Can I delete backups?

To protect you against destruction of data by a malicious person, we do not manually delete backups before their “natural” expiration time unless we receive a notarized request from the account owner. (If the account owner is a company or organization, the request needs to be from the board president or similar representative.)

However, if your goal is simply to make old backups inaccessible to a new person who is given the account password (as in an ownership change), we can do that a different way. We can move the existing backups to a location where only our staff have the ability to access them, making them available only if we receive a notarized request from the original owner. This process usually takes one business day. Please contact us if you need this service.

Do you guarantee the availability of backups?

We make backups as part of our planning to recover from various disasters, including data erasure, hard drive or server failures, and data center destruction.

We're glad to make our backup system available to customers, too, because it can be very useful. However, we should emphasize that we cannot guarantee any backups (the "DATA BACKUP DISCLAIMER" section of our Terms of Service has a specific notice about this).

Although we use and test our backup system regularly and consider it reliable, technical problems could prevent us from being able to restore any particular backup listed in your control panel. And of course, we may not have data from the particular moment you want to restore.

Even worse: although we’ve been in this business a long time and expect to be here far longer, we regularly hear horror stories from customers of other hosting companies who had no backups when the other company suddenly went out of business. You don’t want to be one of those people if something unimaginable happens to us.

A wise course of action is to not trust any Web hosting company with all your data — not even Tiger Technologies. You should make your own additional backups on your own computer (not just on our servers) to meet your own requirements.