One of the most basic things that every blogger that is self hosting should be doing is creating a backup of their database on a regular basis. Why? Because you are not running your own service (i.e. running your blog on wordpress.org or the equivalent place in blog platform of your choice) and having them backup your data, you need to have some protection in case their server crashes, your site gets hacked, etc.– if only for the fact that you will probably have a better grasp of what is truly going on at your site compared to those that are hosting it.
Truth be told, you should both have a copy of your current working files (the files you uploaded or FTP-ed to the site) and the database, but since the most important things for your blog (your posts, comments, settings, and options) are all saved in your database, it is crucial that this data is readily accessible should the unforseen happen. Like Stephen when he put his site back together and told us it is possible to gain a lot of your post content material back from Google’s cache, but he lost some comments. If you had a database backup you’d use less.
Ok, you say, you’ve convinced me. What do I do now?
Go and get the WordPress Database Backup Plugin. This plugin, once installed, will give you the ability to not only select what you want backed up, but, best of all, it will let you pick a scheduled frequency (hourly, daily, weekly, …) and then let you specify an e-mail address to have your backup e-mailed to. I have mine set up to send me an e-mail with my database backed up every day!
You may need to grant write permissions to a specific directory after installing the plugin, but other than that, installation is straightforward. You get a new menu under your Manage tab that says “Backup” and you can test it there as well as configure the daily backup.
So, what are you waiting for. Go get the WordPress Database Backup Plugin today!