What is a workable Joomla Backup Strategy?
You've asked a good question, and an important one, too.
The contents of your Joomla site are actually kept in two locations.
One location, as you have mentioned, is all of the files in your website's folders. Those folders will contain the Joomla program (and any extensions that you have added), plus your templates, graphics, photos, mp3s, videos, etc. It is very important to back up those files.
However, the text in your articles and most of the other components is not contained in the files in your www (or public_html) folders. That information is actually in a mySQL database located elsewhere on your file server.
And unless you run your own server, you don't have access to those files through the file system. They must be backed up in some other way.
How to be sure you have a full backup
So, to have a full backup of your site, you must do 2 backups. One of the files in your server file system (that you can access via FTP). But, you must also backup the database files, and that is often done through phpMyAdmin (or some other similar program) that gives you access to the mySQL database that is serving your Joomla site.
That is where these other backup programs come in! They make it easier to do all or part of your backup.
And the easier it is to do your backup, the more likely you will do it regularly!
So, for example, there is JoomlaPack and JoomlaCloner. These two programs are similar in that they will make a total backup of your site into one single file (or two) that makes it very easy to restore your site if something goes wrong. One click, and they do the work for you. And, they can be configured to do their work automatically on a schedule so you can set them and forget them.
Or, there is jombackup. This program backs up just your mySQL database, zips the backup, and then emails it to you every day.
So, what should you do?
First of all, they don't do anything that you can't do yourself. But, they make it much faster and easier, and sometimes automatic.
And that is the beauty of them! If it takes 1 click to do your backup, that is better than 20 clicks.
As far as which program should you use, let me tell you what I do.
First of all, I install jombackup on every site that I do (and I've done about 50 Joomla sites). Every one. The MySQL database backs up every day and sends the zipped backup to my email address (I have one set up just for this - to receive these backups).
Set it and forget it.
Now, I have also used JoomPack and liked it. It works well.
JoomlaCloner looks very tempting to me, I must say. And, for what I do, it may well be worth the $ 50 (or whatever they charge), especially when it comes to moving sites from one server to another (and I do that a lot!). And it comes with a money back guarantee.
And there are no doubt other backup apps that I just haven't gotten around to trying yet.
But, whichever way you go, you need to have a solid backup strategy in place. Someday, something will go wrong. You might make a mistake. Your server might crash. Someone might hack your site.
And having those backups in place will protect your hard work!