How to Test WordPress Backups: Best Practices to  Ensure Perfect Restores

Bulletproof Backups for Your WordPress Website

Fortify your business continuity with foolproof WordPress backups. No data loss, no downtime — just secure, seamless operation.

Experiencing a catastrophic event that results in data loss or a website crash is a nightmare for any website owner. But having a backup that fails—at the exact moment when it is supposed to work—is far worse. Nightmare inception, if you will. 

That’s why having reliable backups is crucial for every WordPress website owner. 

Taking a backup of your site alone is not enough. It is equally important to regularly test these backups to ensure they can be successfully restored in an emergency.

By testing your backups, you can gain confidence in their functionality and ensure that your website can be restored to a working state flawlessly.

TL;DR: Testing WordPress backups is crucial to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of your website’s backup strategy. With BlogVault, you can easily schedule and automate backups, test them in a staging environment, and quickly restore your website in case of emergencies.

Whether you’re dusting off an old backup to check its stability without disturbing your current site, or you’ve fine-tuned your backup process and need to ensure it’s foolproof, this guide is your ultimate resource. We’ll walk you through the steps to test your WordPress backups efficiently and effectively, ensuring that when the unexpected happens, your site is protected and your efforts to backup your data haven’t been in vain.

How to test WordPress backups using a plugin? (RECOMMENDED)

One of the easiest and most reliable ways to test your WordPress backup is by using a plugin. Among the many backup plugins available, we highly recommend using BlogVault. Let’s walk through the steps to test your WordPress backup using the plugin:

1. Sign up and create an account on BlogVault

Start by signing up for an account on the BlogVault website. This shouldn’t take you more than a minute.

2. Add your website 

Upon logging in, you will find an option to add a new site. Click on Add New Site and enter your website’s URL. Once done, click on Continue.

3. Install the plugin

To automatically install the plugin to your website, provide your WordPress admin login credentials and click on Submit. The plugin will then be automatically installed on your website. Note that BlogVault does not store your login credentials anywhere; we request them solely to install the plugin on your website.

4. Initiate the backup process 

Once the plugin is successfully installed, click on the button that says Initiate Sync to begin the backup process for your website. This step may take some time, depending on the size of your website.

5. Access backup details 

After the backup is completed, navigate to the Site Overview section on the BlogVault dashboard. On the Backup card, click on Details. This will display the details of all backups that were performed and some operations you can perform on with them.

6. Test the restore using a staging site

Within the backup details, you will find a button labeled Test Restore. Click on it to test your backup. Select a specific backup version and a PHP version. Choose the appropriate options from the dropdown menus and click on Continue to proceed.

7. Access the staging site 

Once your selections are confirmed, a staging site will be set up to test your restored backup. You will be provided with login credentials to access this staging site. To do so, click on the Visit Test Restore button. You will be redirected to the staging site’s login page. Use the login credentials that previously appeared on your screen to sign in.

By following these simple steps, you can effectively test your WordPress backup using a plugin. This method provides a secure and reliable way to ensure the integrity of your backups and the ability to restore them when needed.

How to test WordPress backups manually?

If you prefer testing your WordPress backup manually without relying on a plugin or an existing backup that you want to test before restoring, you can create a local environment on your device. You can then import your backup to this environment and test it. Here’s how to do it:

1. Obtain a copy of your WordPress site backup 

To manually test your backup, you will need a backup file downloaded onto your computer. You can either use WordPress backup plugins like BlogVault to do so or get a backup of your site manually.

If you are downloading a backup of your website manually without using a plugin, ensure that you have exported all your files along with your database in the form of a compressed .zip file.

2. Set up a local WordPress environment

To create a local environment for testing your backup, you will need software like Local or DevKinsta. For this article, we will be using Local as an example.

Once you have downloaded and installed Local, launch the application. You will find a Create a site button. Click on it to begin setting up your local WordPress environment.

3. Select your backup file 

In the options presented, choose Select an existing ZIP as your preferred method for site creation as your backup has been downloaded in that format. You will be redirected to your computer’s file system. Locate the downloaded ZIP file of your WordPress backup and click on Open.

4. Choose server configuration

At this point, you can either go with the default Preferred settings (pre-selected PHP and SQL versions and web server) which we recommend if you aren’t sure of what to select or pick the Custom option to customize the server configuration according to your preferences.

5. Initiate the import

Once you have finalized the server configuration, click on the Import site button. The import process will begin and may take some time depending on the size of your backup file.

6. Access your local site

After the import is complete, your local site will be created. To view the site, click on the Open site button. This will open your restored backup in your browser allowing you to browse and test its functionality.

This method gives you full control over the testing process. It also allows you to verify the integrity and functionality of your backup before implementing it on your live website.

Why should you test your WordPress backups?

Testing your WordPress backups is an often ignored but essential step in ensuring the functionality and stability of your website. Here are several reasons why testing your backups is important:

1. Ensures data integrity and restoration capability: Testing your backups allows you to confirm that your data is properly backed up and can be restored in the event of data loss, website crashes, or security breaches. 

2. Establishes a reliable disaster recovery plan: By testing your backups, you can establish a robust disaster recovery plan. This plan helps you quickly restore your website and minimize potential downtime, should any unforeseen circumstances occur. 

3. Verifies backup processes: Testing your backups helps you verify that your backup processes are functioning correctly. It allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of your backup methods, configurations, and schedules. 

4. Identifies potential issues or errors: Through backup testing, you can proactively identify any potential issues or errors in your backup process. This may include incomplete or corrupted backups, misconfigured backup settings, or any other anomalies. 

When should you backup your site?

The frequency at which you should test your WordPress backups depends on various factors, including the frequency of content updates, website changes, and the nature of your website. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how often you should test your backups:

1. Content updates: If you frequently update your website’s content, such as publishing new blog posts or adding products, it is advisable to backup on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. This ensures that your most recent content can be accurately restored if needed.

2. Significant website changes: Before making significant changes to your website, such as upgrading themes, installing new plugins, or updating WordPress core, it is crucial to take a backup. This reduces the risk of any conflicts or issues arising from the changes and ensures a smooth restoration process if needed. 

3. Sensitivity of data: If your website deals with sensitive customer data, financial transactions, or serves as an e-commerce platform, it is advisable to take backups more frequently. 

The frequency may depend on the volume and criticality of the data being handled. Regular backups in these scenarios ensures that you can quickly recover from any data loss or security breaches.

How often should you test your WordPress backups?

Testing your backups is a critical part of a robust WordPress maintenance strategy. Here are some guidelines on how often you should test your backups:

Initial testing: Immediately after setup. When you set up a new backup system or change your backup processes, test the backup immediately to ensure it’s working as expected.

Monthly tests: At a minimum, you should test your backups on a monthly basis. This will help you identify any issues before they become critical.

After major updates: Test your backups after major updates to your WordPress core, themes, plugins, or server environment.

Before restoring an old backup: If you want to restore an old backup and want to make sure it works as it should, it is advisable to test your backups before you restore it.

Changes in site content: If your website content changes frequently (such as daily blog posts or user-generated content), you should test your backups more regularly.

If you use BlogVault for your backups, it has a unique approach to testing backups. With BlogVault, you only need to test a backup when you actually need it, rather than on a regular schedule. BlogVault allows you to test backups and ensures that the process is smooth and reliable. However, this feature is specific to BlogVault backups and cannot be used for other backups, even if they were downloaded from BlogVault.

Parting thoughts

As you consider the different methods to test your WordPress backups, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each approach. The manual method may require a few extra steps, especially if you choose to download the backup manually. However, it offers the advantage of full control over the testing process and allows you to explore the technical aspects of your backup restoration.

On the other hand, using a plugin like BlogVault provides convenience and user-friendliness. It simplifies the backup testing process by automating many of the steps and eliminating the need to dive into the backend aspects.

Regardless of the method you choose, regularly testing your backups is essential. Testing helps to validate that the backups are complete, accurate, and capable of being restored in case of emergencies or unforeseen events.

FAQs

How do I test backup files?

To test your backup files, you can follow different methods depending on the backup solution you use. If you are using a plugin like BlogVault, you can initiate a test restore process through the platform, allowing you to preview your website on a staging environment. If you are testing your backups manually, you can restore the backup on a local environment using software like Local or DevKinsta. This enables you to explore and evaluate the functionality of your restored backup.

What is backup testing?

Backup testing refers to the process of verifying the functionality and stability of your backup files. It involves restoring the backup onto a test environment or staging site and evaluating its functionality and completeness. The goal is to ensure that the backup contains all the necessary data and can be successfully restored in case of data loss or website crashes.

How often should backups be tested?

The frequency of testing your backups depends on several factors, such as the frequency of content updates, website changes, and the sensitivity of your data. As a general guideline, it is recommended to test your backups regularly, especially if you frequently update your website or make significant modifications. Monthly or bi-monthly testing can be a suitable starting point, but it’s important to assess your specific needs and adjust the frequency accordingly.

How do I download a WordPress backup?

To download a WordPress backup, you can use backup plugins like BlogVault or explore other backup solutions that provide a download option. With BlogVault, after setting up your account and connecting your website, you can easily download backups from the BlogVault dashboard. Simply locate the backup you want to download and click on the Download button. The backup file will be saved to your local device.

What steps should I take if my backup fails to restore properly?

If your backup fails to restore properly, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. First, verify that the backup file is intact and not corrupted. Check for any error messages or logs that might indicate the cause of the failure. If you are using a backup plugin, consult their documentation or support resources for troubleshooting guidance. In some cases, you may need to seek assistance from a professional or contact the support team of your backup solution for further assistance.

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