How To Backup WordPress Website

08-12-2023 | 17 MIN READ


In the dynamic world of website development, your WordPress site is not just a set of pages; it’s a vibrant digital asset, evolving constantly with your creative input. Imagine one day, your site encounters a glitch – perhaps due to a faulty update, a malicious hack, or even a simple human error – and your hard work vanishes in a blink. This scenario, though distressing, is not uncommon. That’s where the role of a robust WordPress backup strategy comes into play.

For new WordPress developers, losing meticulously crafted content, personalized themes, and carefully curated plugins is nothing short of a nightmare. The concerns are valid and numerous: “What if I make a mistake while editing?” “What happens if my site gets hacked?” “How do I protect my site during updates?” These are not just hypothetical questions but real challenges that developers face regularly.

Backing up your WordPress site is akin to having a safety net, ensuring that no matter what happens, the essence of your site – your digital footprint – remains intact and retrievable. It’s about peace of mind, knowing that your online presence, a reflection of your personal or business brand, is secure against the unpredictable nature of the digital realm.

In this guide, we’ll navigate the various methods to back up your WordPress site, each tailored to fit different needs and technical proficiencies. Whether you’re a budding developer or an experienced coder, understanding and implementing these backup solutions will be a pivotal step in your WordPress journey. 

Understanding the Need for Backups

In WordPress, where every click can bring about change, the importance of backups cannot be overstated. It’s like having an insurance policy for your website – you hope you’ll never need it, but it’s essential for those just-in-case moments.

The Risks of Not Having a Backup:

  1. Data Loss: The most obvious risk is losing your content. This could be posts, pages, comments, or any other data that forms the backbone of your site. Whether due to a server failure, hacking, or accidental deletion, the result is the same – your hard work disappears instantly.
  2. Update Issues: WordPress, like any software, needs updates for improved functionality and security. However, updates can sometimes clash with your site’s configuration, leading to malfunctions or even complete site breakdowns.
  3. Security Threats: Websites are constant targets for cyberattacks. If your site is compromised, restoring it without a backup can be nearly impossible, especially if malicious code has been injected deeply into your files.
  4. Human Error: We’re all human, and mistakes happen. Accidentally deleting crucial files or making irreversible changes is more common than you might think.

Having a backup plan is not just about protecting data; it’s about ensuring continuity, maintaining credibility, and safeguarding the trust of your users. In the following sections, we’ll explore how you can create and manage backups, keeping your WordPress site secure and functional at all times.

Backup Methods Overview

When it comes to safeguarding your WordPress site, there are several paths you can take, each with its own set of tools and techniques. Understanding these options is the first step in choosing your site’s backup strategy. Here’s a rundown of the most common methods:

WordPress Backup Plugins

Plugins are easy to use, automate the backup process, and often come with additional features like scheduled backups and easy restoration. Some popular plugins include UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and Jetpack. These plugins typically offer options to store your backups in various locations, including remote cloud services.

Manual Backups

For those who prefer a hands-on approach, manual backups involve a bit more technical know-how but offer complete control. This process usually includes manually exporting your site’s database via tools like phpMyAdmin and using FTP programs like FileZilla to copy your website files. Though time-consuming, this method ensures you know exactly what’s backed up and where it’s stored.

Hosting Provider Solutions

Many web hosting providers offer built-in backup solutions as part of their hosting packages. These can range from automated daily backups to more advanced options that allow you to create snapshots of your site at specific points in time. Hosting backups is convenient and can be a good primary or secondary backup option.

Cloud Solutions

Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon S3 can be excellent repositories for your website backups. Some plugins support direct integration with these services, making the process seamless. Cloud backups provide off-site security, ensuring your data is safe even if your server faces issues.

Each method has strengths and caters to different needs and skill levels. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into each method, discussing how to implement them effectively and the best practices to follow. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to keep your WordPress site backed up and secure, ready to face any challenges that come your way.

Using WordPress Backup Plugins

Backup plugins are a game-changer for WordPress site management, offering a blend of simplicity and efficiency. Let’s delve into how these plugins can be your ally in ensuring your site’s safety.

Popular Backup Plugins

  1. UpdraftPlus: This plugin stands out for its user-friendly interface and robust functionality. It allows you to back up and restore your site with ease. You can schedule backups, choose which files to include, and even store your backups on various cloud platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.
  2. BackupBuddy: BackupBuddy offers comprehensive backup options. It’s not just about backing up your site; it also helps you migrate it to a new host or domain effortlessly. Its features include scheduled backups, off-site storage options, and a reliable restore function.
  3. Jetpack: Known for its multifaceted approach to site management, Jetpack’s backup feature is part of its suite of tools. It offers real-time backups, which means every change you make is immediately saved. Plus, it provides easy restoration options, making it a favorite for those who want peace of mind without constant monitoring.

How to Use a Backup Plugin

Setting up a backup plugin typically involves a few common steps:

  1. Install and Activate: Choose your preferred backup plugin from the WordPress plugin repository, install it, and activate it on your site.
  2. Configuration: Go to the plugin’s settings in your WordPress dashboard. Here, you’ll set up backup schedules (daily, weekly, etc.), what parts of your site to backup (database, files, or both), and where to store these backups.
  3. Performing Your First Backup: Run your first backup to ensure everything works. This can usually be done with a simple click within the plugin’s interface.
  4. Check and Confirm: After the backup, verify that your files and database are safely stored in your chosen location.

Scheduling and Managing Backups

Setting a regular schedule ensures that you always have a recent version of your site saved. Most plugins allow you to set this up automatically. Consider factors like how often your site is updated when deciding on backup frequency.

Managing your backups means keeping an eye on them. Ensure they’re completed successfully; you can access and restore them if needed. It’s also wise to periodically review your backup settings to adjust for changes in your site’s structure or size.

Incorporating these practices will make your website management smoother and more secure. In the next sections, we’ll explore other backup methods, offering a comprehensive understanding of how to best protect your WordPress site.

Manual Backup Methods

While plugins offer convenience, manual backups give you control and a deeper understanding of your WordPress site’s inner workings. Let’s explore how you can manually backup your site.

Content Backup via WordPress

Exporting your site’s content directly through WordPress is a straightforward process. This method primarily backs up your posts, pages, comments, and other content elements. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Access the Tools: Log in to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the ‘Tools’ section, and select ‘Export’.
  2. Choose What to Export: You can export all content or select specific sections like posts, pages, or media. Choose according to your needs.
  3. Download the Export File: After selecting, click ‘Download Export File’. This will create an XML file that you can save to your computer. This file now contains the content you chose to export.

Remember, this method does not back up your themes, plugins, or database. It’s focused solely on the content you’ve created within WordPress.

Full Site Backup

A full site backup includes content, themes, plugins, and the all-important database. Here’s how to manually do it:

  1. Backing Up the Database:
    • Access phpMyAdmin: In your hosting control panel, find and open phpMyAdmin.
    • Select Your Database: Choose your WordPress site’s database from the list.
    • Export the Database: Go to the ‘Export’ tab, select the ‘Quick’ method, and click ‘Go’. This downloads a .sql file containing your database.
  2. Backing Up Files:
    • Connect via FTP: Use an FTP client like FileZilla to connect to your web server.
    • Locate the Root Directory: Find the directory where your WordPress site is installed (often named ‘public_html’ or ‘www’).
    • Download the Files: Select the WordPress files (wp-content, wp-includes, and wp-admin folders, and all the files in the root directory like wp-config.php) and download them to your computer.

This method ensures you have a complete site snapshot during the backup. It’s more technical and time-consuming but gives you a thorough backup.

Manual backups, whether partial or full, are invaluable for any WordPress site owner, offering an additional layer of security and a deeper connection with your website’s structure and content.

Utilizing Hosting Provider Solutions

Leveraging your hosting provider’s backup solutions can be a convenient and efficient way to ensure your WordPress site’s safety. Many hosting services offer a range of backup options, from automated processes to manual backup capabilities. Let’s break down how you can make the most of these services.

Using Automated and Manual Backups from Hosting Services

  1. Automated Backups:
    • Most hosting providers offer automated backup solutions, where your site is regularly backed up without any manual effort from your side.
    • To enable this, typically, you would navigate to your hosting control panel and locate the backup options.
    • Here, you can often set the frequency of the backups – daily, weekly, or monthly – and specify which parts of your site to back up.
  2. Manual Backups:
    • Some providers also offer tools to manually create backups. This can be useful if you want to create a backup before making significant changes to your site.
    • The process usually involves going to your hosting dashboard, selecting the ‘Backup’ option, and following the prompts to create and download a backup.

Tips for Choosing a Host with Reliable Backup Options

When selecting a hosting provider, considering their backup solutions is crucial. Here are some tips to help you choose a reliable host:

  1. Backup Frequency: Look for a host that offers frequent automatic backups. Daily backups are ideal, but weekly updates might suffice, depending on your site’s update frequency.
  2. Backup Accessibility: Ensure you can easily access and restore backups if needed. Some hosts offer a simple restoration process through their control panel.
  3. Off-Site Storage: Check if the backups are stored off-site. Off-site storage ensures that your backups are safe even if there’s a problem with your hosting server.
  4. Backup Scope: Confirm what the backups include. Both your site’s files and its database must be backed up.
  5. Customer Support: Good customer support can be invaluable, especially if you encounter issues with backups or restoration.
  6. Testimonials and Reviews: Look at reviews or ask for recommendations. Hearing about other users’ experiences can give you insights into the reliability and efficiency of the host’s backup solutions.

By utilizing your hosting provider’s backup solutions and keeping these tips in mind when choosing a host, you can add a layer of security and convenience to your WordPress site management. This approach and other backup methods will ensure a comprehensive safety net for your online presence.

Cloud Storage Solutions for Backups

In the digital era, cloud storage has become a popular and reliable method for backing up WordPress sites. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3 offer accessible and secure options for storing your website’s backups. Let’s explore how these services work and the benefits they offer.

Using Cloud Services for WordPress Backups

  1. Dropbox: Known for its user-friendly interface, Dropbox allows you to store backups of your site remotely. You can manually upload your backup files or use a WordPress plugin that supports automatic integration with Dropbox for seamless backups.
  2. Google Drive: Offering a generous amount of free storage and the reliability of Google’s infrastructure, Google Drive is another excellent option for storing backups. Like Dropbox, it can be integrated with various WordPress plugins for automated backup processes.
  3. Amazon S3: For those with larger websites or needing more robust storage solutions, Amazon S3 provides a highly scalable service. It’s a bit more technical to set up but offers great flexibility and reliability for WordPress backups.

Advantages of Off-Site Backups

Storing backups off-site, especially on cloud platforms, comes with several advantages:

  1. Safety from Server Issues: By storing backups in a different location from your website’s server, you protect them from server-related problems like outages or hardware failures.
  2. Accessibility: Cloud storage allows you to access your backups from anywhere, anytime, as long as you have internet access. This means you can restore your site quickly, even if you’re away from your main workstation.
  3. Scalability: Cloud services often offer scalable storage options. As your website grows, you can increase your storage space, ensuring your backup needs are always met.
  4. Security: Reputed cloud services provide strong security measures to protect your data, including encryption and access controls.
  5. Cost-Effectiveness: Many cloud services offer free tiers with ample storage for small to medium-sized websites, making it a cost-effective backup solution.

Using cloud storage solutions for your WordPress backups adds an extra layer of security. It provides flexibility and ease of access, ensuring that your website can be quickly restored in case of any unforeseen events. This approach and other backup strategies will comprehensively safeguard your online presence.

Setting Up a Staging Environment

A staging environment is like a rehearsal space for your WordPress site, where you can experiment, tweak, and test changes without fearing breaking your live site. It’s essentially a clone of your live website, operating in a secluded area where any changes you make won’t be visible to your audience. Let’s investigate why it’s crucial and how to set it up for safe updates.

Understanding a Staging Site

Imagine you want to redecorate your store but must figure out how the new design will look. A staging site is like a model of your store where you can try out different designs before implementing them in the actual store. In the web world, you can safely test new themes, plugins, code changes, or major updates. Your live site remains unaffected if something goes wrong in the staging area.

Using a Staging Environment for Safe Updates

  1. Creating a Staging Site:
    • Many hosting providers offer a one-click option to create a staging environment. Check your hosting control panel for this feature.
    • If your host doesn’t provide this, you can manually create a staging site by setting up a subdomain and installing a fresh WordPress instance. Then, clone your live site to this subdomain.
  2. Testing Changes:
    • Once your staging site is set up, it’s time to play. Implement the changes or updates you’ve considered, be it a new theme, plugin, or custom code.
    • Test these changes thoroughly, checking for any compatibility issues, errors, or bugs.
  3. Pushing to Live:
    • After ensuring everything works perfectly on your staging site, you can confidently apply the changes to your live site.
    • Depending on your setup, this could mean manually updating your live site to reflect the changes or using a feature provided by your host to push changes from staging to live.
  4. Regular Synchronization:
    • Keep your staging site regularly synchronized with your live site. This ensures that any tests or updates you run on the staging site are based on the most current version of your live site.

Setting up and using a staging environment is a best practice for any WordPress site owner. It acts as a safety net, ensuring that any changes, big or small, are tested and polished before they affect your live site and its visitors. This approach leads to a more stable and professional website, ultimately enhancing your user’s experience and your site’s credibility.

Best Practices for WordPress Backups

Having a backup strategy for your WordPress site is not just about creating backups; it’s about doing it effectively and securely. Here are some key best practices to ensure that your backups are as reliable and useful as needed.

Regular Backups

  1. Frequency Matters: The frequency of your backups should align with how often you update your site. For a dynamic site with daily changes, daily backups are ideal. For less frequently updated sites, weekly backups might suffice.
  2. Automate the Process: Utilize tools or plugins that automate the backup process. This ensures that backups are created consistently without requiring you to remember to do them manually.

Testing Restorations

  1. Regular Checks: Periodically test your backups by restoring them on a test site or a staging environment. This confirms that your backups not only exist but are also fully functional.
  2. Validate Data Integrity: Ensure that the restored version of your site is complete and works as intended. Check for missing data, broken links, or any other issues that might have crept in during the backup process.

Secure Storage

  1. Diversify Storage Locations: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If possible, store your backups in multiple locations, such as cloud storage, external drives, or even different physical locations.
  2. Security Measures: Protect your backups with strong security measures. If you’re using cloud storage, ensure it has robust encryption and access controls.
  3. Off-site Storage: Storing backups off-site is crucial. It protects you from losing your backups in server or hardware failures.

Additional Tips

  1. Keep a Backup Log: Maintain a log of when backups were made and what they contain. This can be invaluable in a recovery situation where you must choose which backup to restore.
  2. Update Backup Strategy: As your website grows or changes, so should your backup strategy. Regularly assess and update it to suit your current needs.
  3. Training and Awareness: If you work with a team, ensure everyone understands the importance of backups and knows how to handle them.

By adhering to these best practices, you can ensure that your WordPress backups are a reliable fallback, ready to restore normalcy to your digital world whenever unforeseen circumstances strike. 

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, regular WordPress backups are not just a recommendation but a necessity. They act as a safety net, ensuring your hard work and valuable data are never lost in the whirlwind of online unpredictability. Whether you’re a solo blogger, a business owner, or a developer, having a tailored backup strategy is crucial. It’s about choosing a method that aligns with your site’s complexity, technical comfort, and the frequency of your updates. Remember, a backup plan in place is peace of mind earned. And if you’re seeking professional assistance in crafting a robust backup strategy, PSDs2WP, a white-label WordPress agency, is here to guide you every step of the way. Trust in a backup plan that fits your unique needs, and confidently secure your online presence.

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