Backup WordPress site: As a site owner, creating a well-functioning website is a commendable job of course, but it is a job half-done. The other half of the job and a critical one at that is in managing it. What does that involve? Here are a few routine aspects of website management:
- Regularly backing up your website
- Securing your site against malicious attacks
- Updating WordPress plugins, WordPress themes, and WordPress core
- Optimizing site’s performance and speed
- Search engine optimization
- Maintaining your site’s content
While there are all these above mentioned critical elements when it comes to website management, we are going to talk about one particular aspect of this – having a reliable backup or copy of your WordPress blogs.[toc]
Why? Simply because backups have your back when things go wrong. Website threats could come from anywhere – be it a theme/plugin update causing a website to crash, a malicious attack on the website, your website getting suspended, or even a user accidentally deleting some critical files.
These situations are not even a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’. And it is always better to be prepared for these emergencies. So we firmly believe every site owner, big or small should have multiple copies of their website handy.
No, not those backups…
And by handy, we don’t mean the site backups that your hosting provider supposedly keeps for you. Because those are pretty worthless as backups. Why? Multiple reasons.
Firstly, where and how do you think your WordPress hosting provider is storing your backups? Most web hosting companies store these backups on the same server as your website. We cannot even begin to tell you why this is a really really bad idea. It would this put more load on your website server resources. And if anything goes wrong with your server, what would happen to these backups?
Secondly, how often you need to back up your website is something that needs to be customized depending on the type of website you own. For instance, if you own an online store or a WooCommerce site, then the frequency of backup would need to be real-time (most WooCommerce owners know better than to rely on their web hosting provider for backups, thankfully!). And in case your website is one where the content is updated constantly, the frequency of back would have to be daily or more. But these kinds of customizations are not often supported by your hosting provider.
Thirdly, most hosting providers offer free backup options with their advanced hosting plans only if your website size is within a certain limit. If you have a large website that exceeds their arbitrary limit, then you would need to look for other options.
Fourthly, most hosting providers maintain backups of all the websites hosted with them. However, these are for their technical experts and are generally not accessible to the users. Of course, in case of emergencies, you could always check with your hosting provider for a copy of the backup. But without any knowledge on how old this backup might be, is it safe to rely on such a copy of your site in times of emergencies? We think not.
Backups are your safety net
Opting for a trusted and reliable backup service provider will ensure you have backups that suit your requirements, and not your hosting providers’. That way you can focus on your business, without having to worry about all the scenarios where you lose all your carefully crafted data.
Many of you must have been in situations where you accidentally delete critical data on your website, or a bad update breaks your site, or even worse, your website falls prey to evil hackers! In all these situations, the one aspect of your website management that could have really saved you a lot of trouble and effort is maintaining regular backups.
How? Well, worse comes to worst, all you need to do is restore your site’s latest copy and you are good to go. It feels good to know that somebody has your back, doesn’t it?
Backups – the easier option
As many of you would know, there are three ways to backup WordPress website –
- Using a premium WordPress backup plugin
- Hosting provider’s backups (not dependable, as we discussed)
- Manual backups (highly risky and inefficient)
Before we get to the manual backups, let us first introduce you to the easier and most reliable way to back up your website – using a backup plugin.
With a trusted backup plugin for WordPress, you can backup your website irrespective of its size and even schedule the frequency of your backups. For instance, a WooCommerce site would need real-time backups or backups that happen in real time, whereas a regular site could do with a daily backup schedule.
Another advantage of a backup plugin is that most backup service providers store multiple copies of your website in various storage locations, so you always have multiple options to rely on.
Manual backups – inviting trouble
Now, coming to the manual backups, let us warn you. Manually creating a complete website backup is not an easy task. This is an extremely time-consuming process, not to mention very frustrating – the kind where you no longer need to worry about bad hair days (because you have none left)!
You need to be well aware of the WordPress structure – files and database. That is because manually backing up your website involves creating separate backups for both your site files and database and saving them safely. This is a task that has even brought some of the most mighty to their knees. So, consider this a fair warning.
The step-by-step guide to backup WordPress site manually
As we mentioned earlier, manually backing up a WordPress website involves backing up the files and database separately. So let us back up the files first, shall we?
1. Backing up files
To back up your WordPress website files, you need to access the files. You can access the files via File Manager or an FTP Client.
We have installed an FTP Client named FileZilla. We recommend you use the same.
One thing to keep at hand is your FTP credentials. If you are not sure about this, we recommend you contact your web hosting company. (We have a compilation of videos on how to find your FTP credentials depending upon your web host.) Your web hosts would be able to provide you with these details. So once FileZilla is installed and your FTP credentials are handy, we are ready to backup your WordPress database.
Step 1: Open FileZilla. Enter your FTP credentials – host, username, password and click on Quick Connect.
Step 2: Once the connection has been established, then you can see the WordPress files under the remote site section on the right. In this case, the WordPress files are under the public.html folder. The WordPress files could be under other names as well.
Step 2: Under the WordPress folder, you can see WordPress files such as wp-content, wp-includes, etc as shown in the image below. Select the files you wish to backup.
Step 3: For the purpose of this article, we have backed up the wp-content folder as shown in the image below.
Step 4: Drag and drop the selected files from the remote section on the right side to the local directory on the left side as shown in the image below. In our case, we dragged and dropped the wp-content folder for the purpose of this article.
Step 5: Once the backup is complete, you can see the backed up WordPress files and folders in the local file directory on the left-hand side of the FileZilla screen.
Note: It took us forever to establish a connection to the server and then for the transfer to happen, even though ours was a small test site. So you need to have oodles of patience for this transfer to happen. And just to prepare you for the hard road ahead, this is extremely time-consuming since the connection breaks often. So be prepared to set aside the next few hours to keep checking on the progress of this download.
Tip: You can speed up the backup process if you update your FileZilla to the latest version. Also, if your connection is super slow and you are repeatedly getting a server connection aborted error, contact your hosting provider. It could be a server related issue.
Once the transfer is complete, you are the proud owner of the complete files of your WordPress website. The next step is to download the website database.
2. Backing up the database
To back up the database, you need access to your phpMyAdmin of the web host’s cpanel. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to download your MySQL database tables.
Step 1: Keep your FTP login details handy. Check out this article that explains how you can find out your FTP credentials. Alternatively, you can contact your hosting provider, who could provide you with those details. Once you have the FTP login details, log in to your hosting account.
Step 2: Once you are logged in to your hosting account, you can access the PHP account by clicking on the phpMyAdmin option as shown below.
Step 3: You will now be taken to the phpMyAdmin page. Here you can see all the databases in your account. Selecting the one that you wish to download will reveal the corresponding database tables.
Step 3: Next, click on the export option on the top panel of the screen. This will reveal two options – Quick and Custom. The Quick option is the default option to export or download the complete database tables. Choose this if you wish to backup your entire site. The other option Custom enables the user to select the specific tables he wishes to export.
Note: If you select the Custom option, you will see a list of tables. Select the specific ones that you wish to download and backup.
Step 4: The next step is to choose the format of the download. The default option is SQL (as shown in the image above), but you have a multitude of options such as PDF, XML, PHP array and several others to choose from. Pick the format of your choice and click on Go. While not as time-consuming as backing up your WordPress files, this too can take time depending on the size of your website.
You can keep both files and database backups in your local computer or external hard drive or even use cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Not for the faint-hearted
For the purpose of this article, we went through this lengthy process of manually backing up both the files and database and believe us, it isn’t meant for the faint-hearted or the short-tempered!
We have come to the conclusion that manual backups are neither time efficient, nor reliable. These rely heavily on the connection to the server, which in our experience has been rather fickle. Also, since you are fiddling with your actual site’s files and databases, you need to be extra cautious. Manual backups are not a viable solution if you need to back up your website regularly because of all these reasons.
For regular backups, we highly recommend you go with a trusted automated backup plugin service from the many available in the market. Read this article for a comparison on the top backup plugin options. If you are looking for an automated WordPress backup solution that will ensure you have safe backups to rely on in times of emergencies, look no further than BlogVault. With BlogVault scheduled backups, your website will be backed up at a scheduled time on a daily basis without you having to lift a finger!