How to backup your WordPress site

Setting up and managing a WordPress site can be quite complicated. But the last thing you want to do is stop there and never back up your WordPress site.

Over time, as you develop content for your site and build traffic, there is always a risk that a server problem or hack attack will disable your website and possibly disable your site.

Backing up your WordPress site is an essential part of insuring against the loss of all your content and all the work you put into it. In this article, you will learn how to manually create a full backup of your WordPress site and how to use the best WordPress plugins for automatic backups.

Parts of a WordPress website backup

In order to understand how a WordPress backup works, it is important to understand the components of a WordPress site that must be backed up in order to restore.

  • MySQL database: This backend database contains message content and configuration data for your site. This is the bulk of your website’s content.
  • Core WordPress installation: These consist of most of the files and folders in the root directory where your website is stored on the web server.
  • Content of the website: The wp-content folder contains all your theme and plugin files that you have used to customize your WordPress site.
  • WordPress configuration: To properly connect to your database, WordPress needs the database credentials stored in the wp-config.php file stored in your root directory.

As long as you have a copy of the version of the WordPress core installation that matches the version of WordPress you are currently using on your site, you don’t need to back up the WordPress core files.

In this scenario, all you need to do is backup your MySQL database, the wp-content directory, and the wp-config.php File.

Manually backing up your WordPress site

If you already have your Core WordPress installation ZIP file, you can run the fastest type of backup for your WordPress site.

  • To backup your WordPress MySQL database, login to cPanel and under the Files section, select Backups
  • Scroll down to Partial backupsand under Download a MySQL database backupselect the link for the WordPress database you want to back up.
  • You can save the *.gz file anywhere on your computer. If you ever need to restore this database later, you can return to the same page on cPanel. below Restore a MySQL databasejust select the upload and select the *.gz file you downloaded earlier.
  • For only the . to download wp-content folder and the wp-config.php file, connect to your web hosting account using your favorite FTP tool. Use the FTP login ID and password provided by your web host to connect.
  • Use the FTP client to download the full wp-content folder and the wp-config.php File.

Remark: If you want to make a full backup of everything in your home directory, on the same cPanel Backups page under Partial backupscan you use the . Selecting To download button below Download a Home Directory backup and this will download all directories and files in your site’s home directory.

Perform automatic WordPress backups with plugins

Manual backups are fast and convenient, but remember to do them regularly. If you forget to back up and created a lot of new content before your website crashes or gets infected with a virus, you may lose all that new content when you restore your last backup.

A smarter solution is to install one of the many excellent WordPress plugins available to automate the backup process.

There are many great WordPress backup plugins to choose from (see the list at the bottom of this section). The example below uses the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

UpdraftPlus allows you to backup your WordPress site to popular cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud or even FTP or email.

  • To install UpdraftPlus, just download the plugin files and copy them (using the FTP client) to the plugins folder in you wp-content folder.
  • After copying the folder there, log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Pluginsand activate the UpdraftPlus plugin.
  • Once activated, you will see UpdraftPlus Backups listed in the Settings menu. Select it to visit the UpdraftPlus dashboard.
  • To set the frequency of your backups, select the Settings menu. Here you can select how often you want to back up the WordPress files (wp-content) and how often you want to back up the WordPress database.
  • Here you also select the cloud service you want to use to store your backups. After you select the cloud service you want to back up to, the authentication information you need to enter will appear below on the same page.
  • To see the last three most recent backups, simply select the Existing backups menu.

On this page, you can select the blue Restore button to restore your site from the backup created on that day.

Remark: Every time you back up your WordPress site, UpdraftPlus saves the three backup files in your Google Drive account with the date of the backup in the name. This means that three new files will be added to your account as often as you make backups.

So keep an eye on your Google Drive backup folder and make sure to delete very old backups to save account space.

In addition to UpdraftPlus, there are a number of excellent WordPress automatic backup plugins to choose from.

  • vault press: This plug is not free, but it is affordable. In addition to running automatic backups of your site (storing up to 30 days’ worth of backups), it also offers security scans to protect against hackers or malware.
  • BackupBuddy: Get BackupBuddy with a one-time purchase and use it on your site (or sites) forever. It can create automatic backups and store them in any major cloud storage account. It also backs up the main WordPress files, so there is no need to reinstall WordPress after a complete loss of the website.
  • BoldGrid Backup: This WordPress backup plugin is similar to others, except it also has a very handy feature that automatically reverts your site to its previous working backup if a WordPress update fails.
  • BackWPup: If you’re all about free plugins, this one is a good alternative to UpdraftPlus. This plugin performs automated backups using scheduled WordPress tasks to one of your favorite cloud accounts. It will also check, optimize or repair your WordPress database.

Practice your WordPress backup solution

The worst time to discover that your chosen WordPress backup solution isn’t quite working as you expected is after your site has been crashed or hacked.

So, once you have chosen one of the above solutions, practice doing a full backup of your WordPress site with that solution. Then do a full restore and make sure your site is still working as required.

Before testing any of the automated WordPress plugin solutions, you should always create a full manual WordPress backup using the manual procedure described above. This way, if the plugin doesn’t work or somehow corrupts your site, you have an alternative backup that you can use to manually restore your site.

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