How to Backup Your WordPress Blog or Website

obr2By Lavanya Rathnam — Last Updated: 06 Jun'17 2013-03-14T21:15:41+00:00

WordPress is a household name in the blogging world and there are few people in web publishing not familiar with it. However, very few people seem to understand that it’s necessary to backup your WordPress site, just in case the worst happens.

As a refresher, WordPress is a free content management system, or CMS, that makes it easy to create blogs and manage them. In fact, it’s so user-friendly, that millions of people around the world use it to pen their thoughts, promote their products and businesses, pour out their emotions and even just to connect with like-minded individuals. It’s little wonder that WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world.

Many prominent news sites, like The New York Times’ blogs and popular blogging sites like Mashable and TechCrunch, are based on WordPress. Small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and even celebrities use this web tool to reach to the world.

While all that is great, WordPress is subject to the same problems that other websites face. You can become a victim of malicious hackers; your website can break after installing a faulty plug-in or add-on or, even worse, the hosting server can fail due to a system error.

Any of these unfortunate events can wipe out all the content you’ve painstakingly built over the years. Though technically you can rebuild a site again, it’s going to require a ton of effort and time to write all that content again. If you’ve multiple blogs, then you’ll probably lose all of them and the valuable comments they had.

Why go through so much pain when you can pro-actively protect your data instead?

A good way to protect WordPress data, themes, comments, images and videos is to back them up frequently.  At Cloudwards.net, we strongly believe that a diligent and a thorough backup process is important, and that’s why we’ve come up with different ways to backup a WordPress blog.

Before that, it’s good to know the different elements of a WordPress site so that you can back them up accordingly. Broadly speaking, WordPress gets divided into two parts — database and files. The database contains posts and other user-generated content like comments, while the files include themes, images, videos, static pages and more.

While planning to backup a WordPress site, here are the components you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • WordPress core installation
  • WordPress plugins
  • WordPress themes
  • User-generated images and files
  • JavaScript, .php and other code files
  • Static web pages

Besides the items  listed above, you also have  to backup the database separately. Now, let’s walk through how to backup these elements. There are two ways to backup content, manual and automatic.

The Manual Approach

The manual method provides complete control over the backup process, but at the same time, it’s also the most time and effort intensive approach. If you prefer to take this approach, here’s how to manually backup files.

The first step  is to download your WordPress content.

  • Login to your WordPress account and choose “tools” > “export” from the left-hand pane
  • In the next page, you can download all your content or just the parts you want (like comments or posts)
  • Next, click on the “download export file” button and this should download the entire WordPress directory to your computer

Once the WordPress directory is downloaded, we can start the process of manually backing them up.

  • Subscribe to a FTP service such as FileZilla (for PC) or Transmit (for Mac)
  • Login to the web host and you should be automatically redirected to the cPanel
  • Locate your WordPress directory, as this is the one that’s going to get backed up
  • You can’t upload the directory directly because it has to be compressed first
  • Right-click on the folder and choose “compress” from the menu choices
  • Choose the compression type and the server will start compressing your folder
  • Right-click on the recently created archive and choose “upload” from the menu
  • Choose a secure location on your internal hard drive or on an external hard-drive
  • You can also subscribe to an online backup service and move content to the cloud

This manual process may seem laborious, but it takes only a few minutes to complete. You also have more control over the process in general, and keeping a backup in more than one location, such as the cloud and an external hard drive, provides two coats of safety and redundancy.

The Automatic Approach

The automatic approach is preferred by many people, simply because it’s convenient and continues working even if you forget to run the backup scheduler. The automated method is also easy, considering the many WordPress plug-ins that are available today.

With these CMS plug-ins, all you have to do is download and change some configuration settings; that’s it, you’re good to go. We’ll walk through the three best plug-ins available right now, to give you an idea of what’s available in the market.

BackWPUp

BackWPUp is a popular WordPress plugin that makes it easy to create complete backups of a WordPress site. It comes with a lot of options, which customize the way data gets backed up. For example, you can run several smaller backups, instead of one large file that’s 500MB  in size or bigger. BackWPUp also has the flexibility to create a separate job for databases, root, content, themes, plug-ins and uploads.

Small files make it easy to transfer them to other devices or even attach them via email, something that BackWPUp can do, and you can also schedule it work on an hourly basis. Once you setup these options, just forget about it and get on with work. The backup will happen automatically.

You can even choose the backup’s destination from the following choices:

  • Folder – this will keep a copy of your data on the same computer
  • Email – schedule backups so that each file is less than 10MB, and then send them via email
  • FTP – this is probably a common and efficient backup option.
  • Dropbox – another popular choice, providing you’re willing to pay for it
  • SugarSync – like Dropbox, you’ll also have to pay a subscription
  • Amazon S3 – many people with an Amazon S3 account prefer to backup their files here
  • Google Storage/Azure/Rackspace – you can also opt to move files to any of these cloud service providers

With so many options and a user-friendly interface, BackWPUp is undoubtedly a plug-in you’ll love.

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is one of the highest ranking WordPress plugins, which adds a dash of fun to the otherwise boring backup process. With its user-friendly interface and a simple backup process, UpdraftPlus has more than a million active installations.

So, why is this plug-in so popular? Well:

  • It comes with a “quick restore” feature to quickly restores files & databases
  • The backup is automatic and happens at a schedule you choose
  • It restores and migrates data from other plugins, though this feature is restricted to Pro users
  • Supports BackWPUp, Simple Backup, BackupWordPress & WordPress Backup to Dropbox
  • You can remotely control backups
  • You can download backup archives directly from a WordPress site
  • It’s supported on all versions of PHP
  • It’s “site duplicator” feature makes it easy to duplicate sites wherever you want
  • Supports backup options like Google Cloud, AWS, Azure, Rackspace, FTP, SFTP & more

These features make life truly easy when it comes to backing up WordPress files.

BackupWordPress

BackupWordPress is a convenient plug-in for the WordPress CMS that backs up databases and files on a schedule that works best for you.  

Some of its salient features include:

  • No setup is required, so it works well for anyone
  • No technical knowledge whatsoever is required
  • It manages multiple schedules
  • This plug-in emails all backed up files, if you choose that option
  • Works well on both Linux and Windows
  • One of the few plug-ins with good customer support
  • Works well even in low memory scenarios and in shared hosts
  • Translations available for languages like Spanish, Italian, Dutch, French, Basque and many more

Besides these three popular plug-ins, you can also choose others like BackupBuddy, Duplicator, WP-DP-Backup and more.

Conclusion

To conclude, backing up a WordPress CMS is essential to ensure you don’t lose any content, theme or file. It’s best to backup both your database and content, though you may have to do them separately in some cases. The manual backup process is slightly laborious, but gives provides complete control over the process.

The automatic process, on the other hand, is convenient and happens without any interference from you, but it’s good to check the backup process from time to time.

Like most people, if you prefer the automatic approach, we recommend certain plug-ins over others. Please share your WordPress backup experience with us in the comments section below and thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “How to Backup Your WordPress Blog or Website”

  1. This is very helpful to a small business owner like me. Thanks for the complete guide. I’m downloading now BackWPup and I won’t rely on one method. I feel better about the whole backup thing.

  2. Hi Mauricio,

    Finally found some time and read your post. Quite an elaborate post and I simply loved the detailing. There was a time when I was completely ignorant about the WordPress backup, its importance and how to achieve that.
    Now that I have a brand new entrant in this niche, I am slightly more literate now.
    Your post will surely be of immense help for each and every WordPress website and blog owners.

    Regards,
    Haimanti

  3. Great article! Much more thorough than others on this topic. It helps to understand how to backup only what is really needed.

    Thanks!

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