Backups are just too important to overlook, especially if you’re running a blog on a platform such as WordPress. Imagine waking up in the morning and looking at your website only to see a blank page, or even worse a defaced homepage that makes you shiver in pain. You’re not the only one who’s seeing the wrong homepage and most probably not the first one either. Your customers are all getting the same version and they’re running scared. So what can you do? You could dig through the WordPress source code and see what the problem is. But that requires coding knowledge and takes time. You could call your web guy and have him fix it. But that’s takes money and time. You could call your hosting company and demand answers. But they’ll just blame it back on you. If only you had a backup to restore from. That takes neither time nor money and requires little to no knowledge. So, do you, right now, have a recent, stable backup of your WordPress website that you can, at a moment’s notice, restore and have the website running correctly again?
How do you backup a WordPress website?
It’s ok. Everyone forgets about backups. No one really does them. So why should you care? The tough answer is this. It’s not ok. You need to take backups seriously if you want to avoid the pains of losing all the work you’ve put into your website and, even worse, turning your customers away. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a WordPress wizard or a “web guy” to implement a sound backup strategy. Below, I outline several options, both free and paid, that you can either do yourself or opt for a manage solution that’s set and forget.The most expensive backup is the one you didn’t do! Click To Tweet
Backup your WordPress website manually
Although not recommended because of a higher than average difficulty level, you can opt for a manual backup strategy that you can do yourself. This involves backing up your WordPress database and your WordPress files separately.
1. Backing up your database.
Generally, if you have a shared-hosting, then you won’t have access to the command line so you need to rely on tools such as phpMyAdmin to access your database and export it to a file. It’s as easy as locating phpMyAdmin in your hosting panel, selecting your database and exporting it. WordPress.org goes into a very good and detailed explanation for the various hosting panels such as Plesk, cPanel or vDeck.
If you are using a VPS (Virtual Private Server) and/or have access to the command line, then you can use mysql on the command line to backup your database.
2. Backing up your WordPress files
This again varies for the shared vs. VPS hosting. A share hosting will let you use a browser or File Manager to manually copy paste files and folders from the server to your computer. You can also use a FTP program such as Filezilla to connect via FTP to your server and copy the files that way. On a VPS, you can still use a FTP to do it, or you can connect to your server via ssh and copy your files that way.
So what files should you backup? It’s generally a good idea to backup your entire WordPress installation. This includes the WordPress core, your installed themes and plugins, plus your uploads folder. If you backed up your entire installation, then restoring it is just a matter of copying the files over to the server again. You can opt out of backing up the core files, since you can just reinstall the WordPress platform anew, but that will require extra manual work when restoring the other files you have backed up.
If manually backing up your WordPress website seems like a lot of work, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through all that process. WordPress has a bunch of free and premium plugins to help you along the way.
Backup your WordPress website with a free plugin
WordPress has a few free plugins that will backup your site for you.
This free plugin will create complete backups of your content files and database and push them to external storage services such as Dropbox, Amazon S3, another server via FTP, RackSpace Cloud or Microsoft Azure. You can schedule automatic backups so that you always have a backup timetable according to how often you publish new content on your website running behind the scenes. A clear win in my book.
Similarly to BackWPup, BackUpWordPress is free and lets you set a schedule that will run a complete backup of your website files and database. Out of the box, BackUpWordPress supports storing your backup on your server and allows you to limit the number of backups to keep. However, storing the backup files on your server is not as efficient as storing them off-site, to a service like Dropbox, Google Drive or Amazon S3, all of which BackUpWordPress supports.
One of my all time favourites, however, is Duplicator. The free plugin is used primarily to migrate a WordPress installation from one location to another, but it can successfully be used as a complete backup solution. The advantage of Duplicator is being able to simply copy a file and an archive to a location and re-launching your website in seconds. The disadvantages are that the plugin will not let you create automated backups on a schedule and there is no possibility to automatically upload the backup files to another location. Still, Duplicator is a plugin that’s worth considering.
Backup your WordPress website with a premium plugin
WordPress also has a few premium plugins that will let you backup your site.
The most notable of the premium plugins is BackupBuddy. I should note this used to be a free plugin. The plugin is simple to use and, just like its free counterparts, lets you set a backup schedule and upload to different storage services for off-site backup. Additionally, BackupBuddy lets you create backup profiles that will launch backup tasks using the settings you provide. You can exclude specific files and tables from your backup and also make use of their BackupBuddy Stash Storage – a central location to manage all your backups.
2. BackWPup Pro
Choose a managed solution to backup your WordPress website
So far, we’ve looked at manually doing everything, then manually doing something. Let’s now look at manually doing nothing. That’s right, a fully automated, fully managed complete WordPress backup solution. Does such a thing exist? Yes indeed. Let’s look at three options at your disposal.
Vaultpress is the big daddy when it comes to WordPress backup solutions. It’s a fully managed solution that has a dedicated team of experts behind it. They offer automated backups with easy restores and different levels of backup archives. Their Lite plan starts at $5/month/website and offers daily backups and 30-day backup archive. Their Basic plan offers realtime backups and full backup archives, and starts at $15/month/website.
Another automated solution is Blogvault. Similar to Vaultpress in many ways, Blogvault will backup your WordPress website and offer easy restores on a number of price tiers. Starting at $9/month, you can backup a single site, while $39/month will let you back up 7 sites.
Backups are not and should not be looked at as a disaster solution. You don’t pay for health insurance in case you get struck by lightning. You pay to be able to sleep safe and sound knowing that whatever happens, you are protected. Having a serious WordPress backup strategy working for you provides the same peace of mind. You won’t realise how much you need it until it’s too late, so start now and stick with it. Whether you choose to go with manually backing up or a full-fledged automated solution, please remember that the most expensive backup is the one you didn’t do.