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I have seen many times that if we build a website for a client then there is a possibility that this site gets changed over a period of time.

I was thinking that from now onwards whichever site I make I will host a copy of the site on a personal server. Like so that even if they change it I have the copy of it. So that if I need to show someone or I need to refer myself few things I have the proof there.

I will not make them public but will password protect it.

I want to know whether this is legal and a good idea or not.

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Public websites get hacked. In the US, if you expose Personally Identifiable Information, you get slapped with a 5k fine per person leaked. The problem will be all on your side of the table. – Job Jul 16 '11 at 14:38
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think that's a bad idea.

I am not a lawyer, but to me this must be explicitly expressed in a legal document. You might do yourself more harm than gain benefits. If you develop software you are not responsible for the back up. If you want to keep the copy, that's another responsibility, which actually include far more than you might think now. Password protection is a weak argument. To start with, make it storage redundant, encrypt the data, secure access to it - that's hard work.

Given malicious user gains access to your storage, he subsequently can hack into the sites you have developed, as he sees the code.

Weight all the benefits and risks, check the license agreement, be extremely cautious and consult with an IP lawyer if you are to make a backup of the source code (or binaries).

For your portfolio, you can make a few GUI screenshots and then ask your employers to provide a reference for your work upon request from prospective employers. You are usually not allowed to tell many details about which specific work you have carried out by Non-Disclosure Agreement.

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Can i mention which technology i used in webiste like php joomla java etc – mario Jul 16 '11 at 17:52
@mario absolutely, you can also talk which parts you have done. Like I wrote data access layer with php v. N and MySQL v. M, I used this pattern, that framework or other techs, but you shouldn't tell which IP and password you used or how a unique feature was implemented. You can still draw diagrams to show your understanding of the wide spread concepts. – oleksii Jul 16 '11 at 19:05

I wouldn't think it's a good idea, or even necessary at all. It's possibly not even legal, if you're working for a company and talking about sites your company has built for clients.

Why do you want to have a copy of them, anyway? For portfolio purposes? Usually screenshots and description will suffice.

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It's legal if you have the site owner's permission. I wouldn't do it without their permission.

Having a backup of customer sites is always a good idea; having them available in their original form on a public server may be a benefit, assuming you can afford to maintain the server and you can properly secure the copies.

But if someone else has taken over responsibility for the website, there isn't much point in keeping a live copy on a server.

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If i work for company and there i build it. can i do that – mario Jul 16 '11 at 13:48
Not sure what you mean. Just get permission, in writing. Ask them if it's OK. – Robert Harvey Jul 16 '11 at 13:49

This is legal as long as it's in your contract with any given client. If you word it well, they will actually think its an added value.

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If not in the contract, almost certainly not legal: it would likely be viewed as IP theft. – quickly_now Jul 17 '11 at 6:41

Of course the data are going to change and I doubt you could keep a very recent version. Your build of the database itself should be under some sort of source control. This would allow you to idenfity schema changes.

I've worked with 3rd party developers that kept a copy of our data on their internal network for trouble-shooting purposes, but never on an exposed server.

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keep a copy of the code, on a local machine, so that if you get an emergency call to restore it you can. anything that will have customer/user's personal data i would try to keep at arms length. not worth the hassle or liability.

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Only do this if the contract you have permits it. In countries where the legal system is descended from UK common law, it is almost certainly going to be the case that all IP belongs to the customer, this includes all source code. You have no rights to keep it unless you have specific permission to do so. – quickly_now Jul 17 '11 at 6:43

Depends what contract states and who the customer is. If its a closed project and the customer has their own IT shop and you SOLD them a project then its not your responsibility. Just give them recomendations before you close the project.

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