Backups

How to back up your WordPress website (3 easy methods)

Backing up your website is one of the most essential website maintenance tasks. However, there are multiple ways to create a WordPress backup, and it isn’t always easy to choose the best approach. 

That’s why we’ve created this complete guide to backing up your WordPress website. By exploring each possible approach, you’ll be able to identify the method that’s right for you. 

In this post, we’ll explore why every WordPress site needs at least one backup solution in place. We’ll then share three different ways to perform this crucial task. Let’s get started!

An introduction to WordPress backups (and why they’re important)

A WordPress backup is a copy of the database and files that make up your website. You’ll typically store this copy in a location that’s easily accessible. 

You can back up your website to your computer’s local drive, an external drive, or a location on your web server that’s separate from your live site. Increasingly, we’re seeing people back up their websites to the cloud, so their files will be accessible from any location.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of creating regular WordPress backups. WordPress is generally a secure, reliable Content Management System (CMS). However, no software is perfect, and there are plenty of scenarios where you may lose your content and data. For example, you might encounter a technical problem during an update. A plugin conflict can also render your content usable, or your database may become corrupted.

A malicious third party could even hack into your account. At that point, they could scramble or even outright delete your content. Attacks against WordPress sites are quite common. In fact, when Patchstack surveyed WordPress users, they discovered that 25 percent of respondents had dealt with a hacked site in the previous month. 

Of course, content loss isn’t always malicious or due to faulty software. Mistakes happen, and it’s easy to delete a page or post by accident. Whatever the cause, without a backup you stand no chance of recovering your website. You could potentially lose months or even years of hard work. 

In some scenarios, backups can even be a time-saving feature. For example, you might roll out a new look and feel for your website, only to realize that you preferred the original design. In this circumstance, restoring an earlier backup is often far easier than trying to undo the makeover manually.

How to back up your WordPress website (3 easy methods)

When it comes to choosing a backup solution, one size doesn’t always fit all. To help you make the right decision, here’s three ways to back up your WordPress website. 

1. Create an automatic backup schedule with a plugin

Free and premium plugins are a huge part of the WordPress experience. You’ll find a plugin to help you achieve practically any task, and backups are no exception.

Creating your WordPress backups via a plugin is often one of the easiest ways to ensure that your site is fully covered. Most of the major backup plugins boast an intuitive, user-friendly interface. This makes it easy to configure your backups, with no specialist technical knowledge or programming required. 

Depending on your choice of plugin, you may even be able to create an automated backup schedule. This is perfect for busy website owners who don’t have time to oversee the backup process manually.

However, some plugins do have limited configuration and customization settings. If you have very specific backup requirements, you may struggle to find an off-the-shelf plugin that fulfills all of those needs. 

If you do decide to use a backup plugin, UpdraftPlus is a popular solution. Using this tool, you can back up your site to multiple locations. This includes Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3. You can also use UpdraftPlus to back up your site automatically, based on a schedule set by you:

UpdraftPlus backup options

After installing and activating this plugin, navigate to Settings > UpdraftPlus Plus. Then select the Settings tab:

UpdraftPlus remote storage

After that, specify the location where UpdraftPlus should back up your site. Depending on your choice, you may need to enter some additional information, such as your username or password:

UpdraftPlus settings

Next, specify the content that UpdraftPlus should include in its backups. You can also create some exclusion rules:

UpdraftPlus directory

Once you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click on Save Changes. You can now back up your site manually, by selecting the Backup/Restore tab. Then click on Backup Now:

UpdraftPlus backup now

Since it’s such an important task, you may want these backups to occur automatically. With a schedule in place, you can be confident that you’ll always have access to a recent backup.

To achieve this, select the Settings tab. You can then configure UpdraftPlus to back up your files and database automatically:

UpdraftPlus backup schedule

The available options range from once per month to every hour. For the greatest protection, we recommend applying this schedule to both your website’s files and database.

2. Create manual WordPress backups using File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Backup plugins may be a popular method, but some third-party tools can be a potential security risk. According to the Patchstack whitepaper we mentioned earlier, plugins and themes account for 96.22 percent of detected security vulnerabilities. For this reason, you may want to minimize the number of plugins that are installed on your website.

The good news is that it is possible to back up your site without a plugin, using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client such as FileZilla. This can be a way to create regular backups without increasing the number of plugins installed on your site. You may also prefer the manual approach if your site has an unusual configuration, or you have specific backup requirements.

Before committing to manual WordPress backups, just be aware that this can become a time-consuming task. As a busy website owner, you may also be tempted to start skipping backups, which can put your site at risk.

If you do decide to create a manual backup, launch the FileZilla client. You can then navigate to File > Site Manager:

FileZilla Site Manager

If you’re connecting to your site for the first time, click on New Site. You can then enter the FTP address, port value, and FTP login details for your website. If you’re unsure about any of this information, check your cPanel account or the website administration tool supplied by your hosting provider.

After entering this information, click on Connect. After a few moments, all of your WordPress files should appear in the FTP client:

FileZilla General details

Meanwhile, FileZilla’s left-hand panel displays your local file system. In this panel, navigate to the directory where you want to store your manual backups:

FileZilla Directory

In FileZilla’s right-hand panel, select all the files that make up your WordPress website. Then, drag these files to the local directory where you want to store the backup. FileZilla will create a local copy of all your website’s files. Depending on the size of your site, this process may take several minutes. 

For added security, you might want to copy this local backup to a cloud storage system such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This ensures that you won’t lose all of your backups if you encounter any issues with your local computer. 

3. Partner with a WordPress expert

As a busy website owner, chances are that creating regular backups is just one item on a mile-long To Do list. Running a successful WordPress website requires a lot of ongoing work and maintenance. That’s why so many website owners choose to partner with a professional WordPress agency.

A team of experts can be your secret weapon, ensuring that all of those essential maintenance tasks are performed on time. By partnering with an agency such as FreshySites, you can be confident that your site is always fully backed up, no matter how busy your schedule becomes.

To ensure that you never lose any of your valuable content, we can create a full hourly backup for you. For even greater security, we also perform daily file system backups.

There’s a common saying that “anything worth doing is worth doing twice”. At FreshySites, we firmly believe this applies to WordPress backups. That’s why we back up your site to multiple sources, including Amazon S3 Cloud and a physical hard drive. In the extremely unlikely event that one backup source is unavailable, we can always restore your site from a second source.

Don’t add another task to your To Do list! Contact FreshySites today, and we’ll happily shoulder the burden of WordPress backups for you. If you want to learn more before speaking to our team of experts, you can check out our Backup Services page for more information. 

Conclusion 

If you’re not creating regular WordPress backups, you’re putting your site at risk. Without a backup, you could lose everything you’ve ever written, due to something as simple as a database error or plugin conflict.

Let’s quickly recap three ways to back up your WordPress website:

  1. Create automatic backups, using the UpdraftPlus plugin.
  2. Create manual backups via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
  3. Partner with a WordPress backups expert.

Do you have any questions about any of the backup methods mentioned in this post? Reach out to us.

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