If you have a WordPress website or blog, your WordPress backup is just as important as backing up your ordinary files. The difference is that the task seems, and actually is, much more complicated.
However, as you know you can find tools for just about every imaginable online task and website backup is no different.
Actually you have so many options that the choice of a solution may even be more difficult and timeconsuming than learning what you need to know about WordPress backup.
This article is by no means an exhaustive manual on how to back up your personal or business website, but the suggestions will hopefully de-mystify the topic and motivate you to take action towards securing your online property.
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We all have a lot of things to deal with at home or in the office on a daily basis, so taking time out of our busy schedule to learn about seemingly trivial matters can be difficult.
However, if your personal or business website website gets hacked or the server crashes, the procrastination of your website backup can be costly and frustrating.
Your website may have been running smoothly for a long time and odds are that it will keep doing so. But the day that it doesn´t you will quickly learn to appreciate a backup if you depend on your site for income or other important matters.
Taking control is easy and the following 5 steps will help you create a more secure website.
5 steps to set up a WordPress backup
1: Decision and follow through
The first step is to realize that you need to be on top of this if your website is important to your business or to you personally.
This may sound obvious, but because website backup is not a one off task you need to be dedicated to the task if you want to turn it into an asset. The backup is a cheap insurance against having to do the work all over again.
2: When and how often
The next step is to determine how often you need to back up you site. Your decision could be based on two things:
- The value of your content
- How often you edit your site or put up new content
Or you can determine your tolerance for how much work you are willing to re-create in case of a website breakdown and let that determine the backup frequency for your site.
3: Manual or automatic
Your choice on backup frequency will help you decide whether you can choose a manual approach or if you are better of with an automatic arrangement.
If you decide to back up your website on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, you could choose to do it manually. It doesn´t take that much time with a smaller site and at the same time you know exactly what happens.
If you decide on a daily or even more frequent backup, the manual way is no longer a good option. It will quickly become an annoyance and is a sliding slope back to the days of no or rare backups.
If your site warrants a daily or even hourly backup, you will need a WordPress backup tool that offers scheduled backups.
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4: Choosing a backup solution
As mentioned earlier there is no shortage of available tools and services to help you with the backup task.
Many WordPress hosting companies offer a daily WordPress backup, which sounds great. The problem is that more often than not it is just that, a daily backup which most likely deletes the previous backup. This means that if the issue that ends up crashing your website is not new, your backup may also be broken.
With a step up in price to managed WordPress hosting solutions you can get a better backup service with some hosting companies.
Some webhosts have refined website backup to a fine art. This site, for example, is hosted by WP-Engine who has the most incredible backup/staging system, and I rarely give site backup a second thought.
But no matter how great the backup service is with a given host, you should always secure a local copy at intervals. No company is guaratied to survive forever and if your host shuts down for some reason, so does your site.
An additional reason to run your own backup scheme is that the backup created by a webhost may only contain what that particular company needs to restore your site. It does not nescesarily contain all parts of your website.
Backup with plugins or third party services
There are many backup plugins available for WordPress, free as well as paid. This is a small selection of popular plugins which I also use in my own work.
UpdraftPlus is a very popular backup plugin that I have been testing recently. It is very user friendly and WordPress backup does not get much simpler.
The UpdraftPlus plugin comes in a free and a paid Premium version with noticeable differences of course. The free version offers a painless, yet manual backup solution. If you want an automated WordPress backup setup you need to choose the premium version.
The price of the premium version starts at 70 $ for two licenses.
Duplicator is a free plugin with a Duplicator Pro version which is a paid version with more features.
I have used Duplicator for almost as long as I have used WordPress. The plugin was originally only a site migration tool. Now, however, the Duplicator Pro edition offers a more rounded backup experience, such as:
- Scheduled backup
- Cloud backup
- Site migration
The free version of Duplicator is extremely easy to use when you create your backup. But when the time comes to recovery things get more technical. It has some limitations compared to the PRO version, but if you are comfortable with FTP and have an elevated understanding of your WordPress site, the free Duplicator plugin is a strong partner for a manual and free backup scenario.
If you are looking for at more userfriendly and automated WordPress backup setup, I recommend taking a look at Duplicator Pro.
5: Where to keep the backup
These days you have many storage options to choose from which can be devided into the following three categories:
Local backup is when you store the backup on your personal computer, server or any kind of external storage in your house, office or elsewhere.
Cloud storage is an online storage service where your data is stored out there in the cloud somewhere. Whether you like cloud storage is a personal matter, but it sure is practical.
Many backup solutions enable you to create your website backup directly to your chosen cloud storage service.
With most plugins you will be able to create your backup and leave it on your webserver.
This may seem practical and even logical, but relying on this is not advisable. Since the backup will most likely reside on the same physical server as your site, this is the equivalent of keeping all your eggs in one basket.
There are other things than hacking that can break your site. Unless your web host relies on cloud storage, a physical server can break just as any other computer, which would effectively kill your website and all your hard work.
Good habits for your website backup routine
- Do not rely on one solution. Assuming that you are comfortable with cloud storage, you could let the automatic backup happen to the cloud and then download some or all to your local storage periodically.
- Keep more than one backup. An error may take some time to show, so keep enough backups to cover at least a couple of months back in time.
- Create and save the content outside of WordPress.
- Back up before theme updates
- Backup before wp updates
- Check your backup from time to time
Running a secure website is a never ending and time consuming task. However, if you settle into a routine with the right tools you can minimize the time you need to spend on maintenance.
If you depend on your business website or your personal blog for income, then you may be able to imagine the cold sense of dread when you get the white screen of horror when you visit your site.
Your efforts in setting up a WordPress backup may pay off tenfold the day you are able to get your site back on line in a few minutes after a crash.