I’m constantly trying to find better backup solutions for my website. While I lucked out and got grandfathered into a cheap DropMySite plan for 10 GB, DropMySite has since changed its pricing, and it’s no longer suitable for ordinary website hosting. I’ve been looking into Amazon’s AWS S3 for backups, and since Cloudflare introduced R2 storage with free egress fees, I thought it was time to explain why I don’t use AWS S3 or Cloudflare’s R2 to store my backups.
Cheap Storage Sounds Tempting
The best use case for S3 and R2 is, of course, the cost. Ordinary backup services for websites like Jetpack Backup and NameHero’s own backup solution cost at least several dollars per month for a few GB. Compared to that, AWS’s storage is an order of magnitude cheaper, and Cloudflare’s R2 gives you 10 GB/m for free!
Of course, egress costs are high on AWS, but even so, given that backup restorations are much rarer, it’s much cheaper than ordinary backup solutions. In many cases, as with Cloudflare’s R2, it will be entirely free.
So why don’t I use S3 and R2 to back up my VPS and website files and folders?
Reason 1: Complicated to Set Up
Running a website shouldn’t be technically challenging unless it’s your full-time job. Ordinary shared hosting is for regular folk who just want to focus on their website, and even a managed VPS requires skills over and above shared hosting. So when deciding whether to use AWS to store your backups, you have to ask – how easy is it?
The answer is not very. AWS is pretty complicated to set up, and the same goes for Cloudflare’s R2. Even if you manage to send your files to one of these services, how do you plan on getting them out? You must set up complex two-way interactions between your server and the remote storage. This means installing software on your VPS and complex configurations.
For anyone running a website on a VPS, I would not recommend AWS unless you know exactly what you’re doing, and you’ve done it before.
Reason 2: You Need Easy, Granular Restoration
One of the use cases of a backup solution is to restore individual files, folders, and databases in case something goes wrong. Say you wake up one day and find that some files have been corrupted by malware, and you need to restore them to their state three days ago. Will having a VPS backup on AWS help you to restore them quickly? No!
Instead, you’ll probably have to restore your entire server after downloading the backup. And who knows what can go wrong in the process? One big problem is that even testing these things can be dangerous, so you prefer not even try.
What you want is a solution that lets you restore specific files with the click of a button, preferably with a nice GUI. And a backup of your VPS sitting on Amazon’s AWS doesn’t give you that.
Choose a Managed Backup Solution like on NameHero
To be safe, I suggest using a specific backup solution created for this purpose rather than attempting to do this on your own. There’s no point saving money with AWS if you can’t easily restore your site in an emergency. NameHero already has free nightly and weekly backups, but you can purchase more space and get 30-days of backups. And while I don’t use Jetpack Backup either, even that is better than setting up AWS on your own.
So keep it simple, avoid complicated solutions, and know your limits. Trust me – AWS and Cloudflare’s R2 are more trouble than they’re worth when it comes to using them for backup storage.
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!
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