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Backing Up Plesk and Hosted Website Data (Plesk Panel 11)

This article discusses website backups in Plesk Panel 11. By backing up your hosted websites, you can help ensure that, in the event of a problem, you can restore them.

Backing up your content is important. Backups help protect your content in the event of a catastrophe by providing a known good copy of your websites and data that you may restore. While our server provider maintains backups for internal emergency disaster recovery purposes, these are overwritten on a rotating basis. You should not rely on these backups for your individual backup needs. This is why self-managed backups are important.

Plesk has a backup tool that you may use to create Plesk backup files and download them to your local computer…

Backing Up Plesk and Hosted Website Data

To back up data related to your Plesk account and all your Plesk subscriptions:
Plesk Backup

  1. Login to the Plesk Control Panel
  2. Go to the Account tab > Back Up My Account and Websites > Back Up.
  3. Specify the following:
    1. Backup file name prefix and description. [Optional] Note that the Panel automatically adds the date and time of backup file creation (in Universal Time) to backup file names.
    2. Splitting of the backup file. [Not Recommended] To create a multivolume backup, select the corresponding checkbox and specify volume size in megabytes.
    3. Location where to store the backup file. [Select Server repository]
    4. E-mail notification on backup completion. If you want to be notified of the backup completion, type your e-mail address.
    5. What data to back up. [Select configuration and content]
    6. Suspend domains until backup task is completed. [Not Recommended] Select this option to prohibit users from making changes to content or settings of websites while they are being backed up.
      Note: If you select this option, then, after restoring the data from this backup file, you will need to manually switch on every domain alias for every site that needs to have domain aliases. This can be done at Websites & Domains tab > domain alias name > Switch On.
  4. Click Back Up.
    The backup may take several minutes. After several minutes, click the Refresh button. When backing up is finished, the backup file will be saved to the Server Repository. You will still need to download this backup file to your local computer…

To download a backup file from the Plesk Panel repository:

Plesk Backup Download

  1. Make sure you are on the Backup Manager screen, located at Account tab > Back Up My Account and Websites.
  2. Click the green download icon next to the corresponding backup file name (make sure it’s the one you just created and matches the date the backup was made) then specify the location to save the file on your local computer.
  3. Before starting the download, Panel will prompt you to set a backup password. If you set a password, you must remember it, or the backup file will be useless.

Restoring Backups

We recommend contacting our Support staff for assistance with restoring a backup, prior to attempting a restoration.

Additional Items to Backup

Address Books

If you have created e-mail accounts under your hosted domain name on the Plesk Panel server, *AND* you access those e-mail accounts via Horde Webmail, you may want to backup your Webmail address books. A procedure for exporting Horde Webmail address books, to a file you can download, is discussed in the article titled, Export Address Book from Horde Webmail.

Website Data

Advanced Users and Webmasters should also consider making manual backups by (1) using FTP to download all websites files in website data directories (ie. httpdocs), and (2) using phpMyAdmin to export any website databases to SQL files saved to your local computer.

Lists of E-mail Accounts and DNS Records

Other items to consider backing up, or printing out, include a list of all e-mail accounts, and DNS records, hosted on the Plesk Panel server.

E-mail Messages

If you have created e-mail accounts, under your hosted domain name, on the Plesk Panel server, you may want to backup your e-mail messages. Your backup strategy will vary depending on the type of e-mail account you use, and which method you use to access it. First, some background information on the two most popular methods of accessing e-mail…

POP and IMAP are two methods to access email.

What is POP (POP3)? [1]

POP works by contacting your email service and downloading all of your new messages from it. Once they are downloaded onto your PC or Mac, they are deleted from the email service. This means that after the email is downloaded, it can only be accessed using the same computer. If you try to access your email from a different device, the messages that have been previously downloaded won’t be available to you. Sent mail is stored locally on your PC or Mac, not on the email server. A lot of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) give you email accounts that use POP.

What is IMAP? [1]

IMAP allows you to access your email wherever you are, from any device. When you read an email message using IMAP, you aren’t actually downloading or storing it on your computer; instead, you’re reading it from the email service. As a result, you can check your email from different devices, anywhere in the world: your phone, a computer, a friend’s computer. IMAP only downloads a message when you click on it, and attachments aren’t automatically downloaded…

POP

If your e-mail accounts are checked using the traditional method, POP, then messages are downloaded and stored on your local computer, then removed from the server, each time you check for e-mail. You can backup the messages stored on your local computer using normal backup software for desktop computers. Although you should verify that your backup software supports backing up the data folders where your e-mail software (ie. Microsoft Outlook, or Mozilla Thunderbird) stores its data.

One method to backup the e-mail messages stored on your local computer is discussed in the article titled, Backup Your E-mail (HOWTO).

IMAP

If your e-mail accounts are checked via IMAP or Webmail, then the messages are stored on the server. If a server failure were to occur, the messages stored on the server could be lost.

One method to backup e-mail that is stored on an IMAP or Webmail server is discussed in the article titled, Backup Your E-mail (HOWTO).

Contact our office to discuss your needs regarding backing up or archiving e-mail messages.

Footnotes:
[1.] “What are IMAP and POP?” Microsoft, May 18, 2018, https://support.office.com/en-US/article/What-are-IMAP-and-POP-ca2c5799-49f9-4079-aefe-ddca85d5b1c9

Backup Your E-mail (HOWTO)

It’s a good idea to regularly make backups of your important documents and files. In addition to normal computer backups, for Windows or MacOS, you may want to also backup your e-mail messages. Not all computer backup programs have the option to include e-mail messages. Additionally, if you are not storing e-mail messages on your computer’s hard drive, because you use Webmail or IMAP (instead of POP3), typical computer backup programs would not be able to back up those e-mail messages.

Fortunately, there are some e-mail specific methods to back up e-mail messages. Including when the messages are stored locally on your computer’s hard drive, or when they are remotely stored on an e-mail server.

This article is focused, primarily, on users of Microsoft Windows, with Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. Users of Apple’s MacOS, with the included Mail app, might consider exporting important mail folders to an external storage device.

[Recommended] One of the easiest methods to back up e-mail is to use the free MailStore Home software for Windows. With MailStore Home you can back up your local e-mail folders, on your computer, as well as any mail stored in IMAP folders, on the e-mail server. There are instructions available on their website. According to their web site…

MailStore Home lets you archive your private email from almost any email source and search through them extremely quickly. You will never lose emails again.

Use MailStore Home to Backup Your E-mail

MailStoreHome

MailStore Home

Download and install MailStore Home on the computer you use to check your e-mail. Installation instructions are available on their website. Once it’s installed, open MailStore Home by double-clicking on the MailStore Home icon on your Desktop screen.

Once MailStore Home is open, it should display the Start Page. From the Quick Access menu, select Archive E-mail

MailStoreHome-Click-Archive

1. Create E-mail Client Profile

On the Archive E-mail screen, we will create two Profiles. One profile for your normal e-mail client software (Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird), and a second profile for the Widomaker e-mail server via IMAP. (If you have more than one e-mail address, you would create additional profiles.)

Select your e-mail client software from the E-mail Clients list and follow the onscreen instructions…

MailStoreHome-Select-Client

That will add your e-mail client to the list of Profiles

MailStoreHome-First-Profile

2. Create IMAP Profile

Enter your e-mail address into the Create Profile > E-mail Account field, then click Start. Provide your password, when prompted…

MailStoreHome-Create-IMAP-Profile

MailStore-Password-Prompt

3. Archive Mail

Double-click each profile, one at a time, to start the archiving process. When both archive profiles have been run, they will display “Succeeded”…

MailStoreHome-Succeeded

4. Backup Mail to External Hard Drive or USB Storage Device

Open the MailStore Home Start Page by clicking Start Page on the left-side menu…

MailStoreHome-Click-Start-Page

Click Backup to HDD or USB

MailStoreHome-Backup-to-HDD-USB

Select a device and location to save the backup. Choose an external hard drive or USB storage device…

MailStoreHome-Browse-For-Folder

5. All done!

[Advanced Users Only] Other Methods to Backup Your E-mail

There are also backup methods specific to the e-mail software you use. However, the difficulty level is more advanced. Try using MailStore Home, first, as described, above. A local computer shop may be able to provide assistance backing up your computer and/or backing up your e-mail using MailStore Home or the other options, below..

In order to proceed, you may need to know whether you are using POP3 or IMAP to access your e-mail. POP3 stores your e-mail on your computer’s hard drive. IMAP stores e-mail on the server, online, and only temporarily downloads a copy when you read a message.

Microsoft Outlook

Use the instructions found in the Backup Your Email article from Microsoft.

Mozilla Thunderbird

First, if you use IMAP instead of POP3, you need to configure Thunderbird to store and keep copies of the IMAP messages, from the server, in offline folders, then back up the Thunderbird profile using any available method…

  1. Right-click on your mail account name (in the left side column) and select “Settings”
  2. Select “Synchronization & Storage”
  3. Select “Keep messages for this account on this computer”
  4. Click on the “Advanced” button
  5. Make sure all the folders you need to back up are selected
  6. Click OK
  7. Select “Synchronize all messages locally regardless of age’
  8. Click OK
  9. Click the Menu icon ≡ (triple bar) > File > Offline > Download/Sync Now

Then, you can back up the Thunderbird profile. There are several methods you could use to back up the entire Thunderbird profile folder or just e-mail…

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