Articles about security will try to educate you about best practices for keeping your computer safe from intruders and clean of viruses and spyware.

GoDaddy Managed Backup: This is Why We Can't have Nice Things

GoDaddy Managed Backups: Are They Worth It?

So here’s today’s website WTF. GoDaddy Managed Backups. What are they, and can you trust them with your data?

A client has a VPS (Virtual Private Server) through GoDaddy on which we host a variety of websites. He pays an extra fee for GoDaddy Managed Backups which, well… who the hell knows what it does.

In this article we’re going to explore GoDaddy Managed Backups and try to make an informed decision on whether they’re worth the price.

What are GoDaddy Managed Backups

GoDaddy Managed Backups is an add-on service for GoDaddy Dedicated and Virtual Private Server hosting. We know that much. We think. And it’s not cheap, so we can only assume that it’s doing something productive. (Because nobody in the history of the Internet has ever charged money for something utterly useless.)

According to GoDaddy,

A Managed Backup account allows us to backup content from your VPS or Dedicated Server to an off-site location. What are Managed Backups, GoDaddy Support

Great! So as a GoDaddy Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Hosting customer, all I have to do to protect my investment is purchase GoDaddy Managed Backups and my entire server will back up off-site, and I can restore it any time I want!

Nope.

You are not able to access these backups to recover your data; however, you may ask us to restore your data at any time. What are Managed Backups, GoDaddy Support

Okay, so I can’t restore my server myself, but GoDaddy will restore it from Managed Backup as soon as they get around to it, right? 

Nope.

No, we will not overwrite your current data. We will restore the requested content to an empty folder you can access. It will be your responsibility to move the content and overwrite any data. What are Managed Backups, GoDaddy Support

Okay, GoDaddy won’t restore my files. They’ll put the backup in a folder, and from there I can cherry-pick what I need.  So even though it’s going to take hours to move the files, the backup does have everything I need to totally restore my server, right?

Nope!

Our Managed Backups create a copy of all non-system data which is not in use on your server. If a file is in use during the time of our backup, it will not be processed. What are Managed Backups, GoDaddy Support

Goodness.  Well… it backs up all the important stuff, right?

Yeah… about that…

By default, your MS SQL/MySQL databases are not backed up. This is because they are typically in use while we back up your server. What are Managed Backups, GoDaddy Support

So the databases that hold all my data for WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and other programs… they’re gone?

Yeah, you’re pretty much boned. Reich Web Consulting

At this point I decided it was time to have a nice chit-chat with tech support about what my client actually pays for.

Hello Diego at GoDaddy Tech Support. Is Managed Backup sufficient to rebuild my server completely if we experience a catastrophic failure?

… if your server crashes and you see yourself rebuilding it  you can use these backups to get all your files back. But this is not an image of the server, so it wouldn’t work to build the entire server. You would need to configure everything back again. Diego, GoDaddy Support

So in the unlikely event that my entire VPS gets hosed, not only will Managed Backup not contain all the files and databases I need to rebuild my sites, but it won’t contain any of the hours of configuration changes I’ve made to CentOS or Windows to support the services it ran.

Well that’s not good. Hardware fails. Servers get hacked. Virtual environments exist to mitigate these disasters. So if I have a catastrophic failure and Managed Backup doesn’t provide what I need to restore my server, GoDaddy can still roll back to an earlier snapshot, right?

Chances of this happening are close to none but we don’t guarantee that your server will be restore back to a previous date if something like hardware failure occurs. You are responsible for your backups however in this case the Managed Backup plan your client pays for is external and stored with redundancy protocols in place. I wouldn’t worry if I were you. Diego, GoDaddy Support

Diego’s final answer attempted to both cover GoDaddy’s behind, and to reassure me that our sites were totally safe. You can’t have both, Diego. If you actually unpack his reassuring platitudes, he’s saying,

In this case the Managed Backup plan your client pays for–you know, the one that doesn’t actually include everything you need to restore your service–is external and stored with redundancy protocols in place.  I wouldn’t worry if I were you.

You can store my backup on 1,000 disks across 100 different countries, but if that backup doesn’t actually provide what I need to restore my server, it’s still just as useless.

The only possible conclusion I could reach is that GoDaddy Managed Backup is neither well-managed nor a full backup. It offers nowhere near the protection you’d expect out of a serious hosting service, and with so many better options (Azure, anyone?) I wouldn’t make the choice to host with GoDaddy again unless this situation improved.

Unfortunately, this particular GoDaddy Virtual Private server hosts a lot of websites for a lot of clients, and porting them somewhere else on the client’s dime isn’t a realistic option.  So in my next article I’ll talk about some options to make GoDaddy Virtual Private Servers and GoDaddy Managed Hosting a safer long-term hosting solution.

Use a Different Password for Insecure Websites

We all do it: we have a single username and password that we use for our every account we have on the Internet. The only problem is, all websites are not created equal. When you log into your bank the connection is probably encrypted, whereas the connection to a gaming site, blog or forum probably isn’t.

The Problem

No big deal, right? Wrong! Hackers can easily sniff unencrypted passwords out of Internet traffic. You may think that if a hacker steals your username and password for a forum or chat site it’s trivial, but if that password is identical or similar to the one you use to log in to your online banking, that’s can be a problem!

What if a hacker steals your email account? Again, you may not consider that a big deal. But all most services require to change your password is your email address. They will send a password reset link to that address, which the hacker can then use to reset your password.

The Solution

The following tips will help you keep your online accounts safe from hackers and password sniffers.

  • Familiarize yourself with your browser, and know how to determine if you are logging into a secure or insecure website.
  • Use a different username and password combination when registering for secure and insecure websites.  That way if a hacker does get the password to your blog, at least it can’t be used to log into your bank accounts and other critical online services.

Got a tip related to website usernames and passwords?  Leave a comment and I’ll add them to the article!

What is Fragmentation?

Fragmentation is  one of the primary ailments that infects a slow computer.  You might have heard the word before. Someone might have even taught you how to fix it.  But most of us don’t know what fragmentation is, how it occurs, and–unlike a virus or spyware–why we’re stuck living with fragmentation in our lives.  Without getting into too many technical details, let me explain what fragmentation is. Read more

How Long do you Try Repairing Before Reformatting?

As a small-time computer consultant I’ve dealt with dozens of customers who bring me computers loaded with viruses and spyware.  I’m of the school of thought that a reformat is never neccessary, that–given enough work–any infestation can be overcome.  But there is a point of diminishing returns, and I’d like to know where others think that point lies.

I’ve arbitrarily decided that at my current rates it’s no longer worth my customer’s hard-earned money to try and root out an infestation beyond two hours of labor. After that I suggest a reformat.  Where do you draw the line?

A Word About Total Protection Software

My friend Dan over at Outsmart Technology wrote a fantastic article about choosing the right antivirus package. As a followup to Dan’s article and my own article yesterday explaining what a virus is and how your computer actually becomes infected, I wanted to voice my opinion about so-called “total protection” packages being sold by the top names in personal computer security. That opinion is, stated bluntly, that their software is bloated, junky, and not worth your money.

Read more