AllanGardyne wrote: His web host told him the hard drive on the server was destroyed and so were the backups.
Backups on the same machine as the site aren't really backups, as we see here.
We could take it a step further, and say backups at the same host as the site aren't really backups either.
Here's a solution.
100 gigs of backup space (not hosting space), for $20/month.
Or 10 gigs, for $5/mo.
The sales site isn't much, but the owner is cooperative and helpful, in my limited experience.
The key to backups is to automate them, because nobody ever faithfully remembers to do them manually.
A technology called Rsync can be triggered every day by cron, commonly available on all servers.
Rsync will check your server for new files, or new edits to existing files, and transfer this new data to a another server somewhere on the Net.
This is a very efficient way of doing backups, as compared to simply copying all your files every day. It's easy to run up big bandwidth charges doing that.
Rsync is nerd stuff, not something the typical webmaster will want to bother learning. But it's not that big a job for a tech to set it up, thus it shouldn't be expensive to hire someone once to do it. A site on shared hosting may not be able to access Rsync.
An alternative could be to write a perl script that will auto transfer your entire site to a remote server.
Grabbing the data from a forum database would be more complicated, but I'm sure there are existing utilities for this.
To summarize, suggestions:
1) don't count on backups done by your host
2) hire someone to automate your backups to a server somewhere other than your host.
For maximum simplicity, and no programmers, see if you can find a host that offers one click backups to your local machine, and a reminder service. :-)