The WP-DB-Backup plugin is well-suited for usage on all of the sites featured in this book.
Akismet certainly does a great job of dealing with spam that has already been submitted, but that function is only one part of the overall spam-preventative measures that you should have in place to protect your sites. The second plugin that you need to use in order to win your battle against spam is WP-reCAPTCHA.
This plugin, which is available at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-recaptcha/, works by displaying an image that includes distorted words that your visitors must type in correctly. Using the settings provided by this plugin, this image can be configured to display on the comment form as well as the registration page.
Because of the methods that WP-reCAPTCHA uses to generate their CAPTCHA images, it's much less likely that spammers will be able to use OCR reading spam bots to bypass the protection offered by this plugin.
WP-reCAPTCHA is used by some very well-known sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon. Its spam-prevention capabilities are even being employed by a few U.S. government websites. If these sites are confident enough in the protection offered by WP-reCAPTCHA, then there really isn't any reason why you shouldn't entrust your site to it too.
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