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True, many hosts maintain backups, but some will charge a fee to restore your web site. And it's not unknown for a web host to "lose" their backup....
What if they said that they do, but when you ask for a backup of the database they'll offer you the 3 months old backup?
A few ways to be more certain:
- take your own backups as well
- go with a quality host (ideally one that has had its internal processes inspected by some kind of independent auditing body)
- get them to provide a written description of their backup system (i.e. don't just discuss it on the phone) and get it incorporated by reference into the contract.
Make sure you have an agreement about daily/weekly backups. If they give you one three months old and you have no agreement then you can't be upset. I wouldn't settle for anything less then a nightly backup. It does depend on your data and how much new data is inserted daily but three months can't be very good, better then all gone but losing three months of data sounds scary.
one time a client managed to delete their database (don't ask) - i was on the phone to the hosts (who i had strongly recommended to client) database was restored within 20 minutes and the database was 2 hours old (eg. full backup 2 hours before)
... this isn't a $5 a month host!
ensure you have your own back up plan though