Beginner’s Guide: How to Manually Backup WordPress Files Using FTP

Backing up your WordPress site means to backup both WordPress files as well as WordPress database. All WordPress sites contain both these parts. They store different sets of information and missing out on one or the other may mean that you’ll have a tough time restoring your site. While database stores posts, pages and users, among other things, WordPress files store all the plugins and themes, WP core installation, images and other files. In short, WordPress files are responsible for the look and feel of your site. Here, we show you how to manually backup WordPress files via FTP.

 

WordPress files affect the look and feel of your WordPress site

 

Clarification:

This article only deals with manually backing up your WordPress files using FTP. Backing up the WordPress database is a separate process; to know more about this process, refer to our guide How to Manually Backup WordPress Database Using phpMyAdmin.

Neither of these articles will help you restore your actual site.

Setup to Make WordPress Backups Using FTP

Let’s dive straight into it. To make WordPress backups using FTP, first you must have access to your site files. You can achieve this by setting up an FTP account. To setup an account, typically, you have to use ‘FTP Accounts’ via your cPanel dashboard. cPanel access is usually given by your web hosting provider when you sign up for the service.

Tip: If finding FTP Accounts in cPanel is proving difficult due to a cluttered dashboard then simply use  CTRL+F to make it easier.

To set up an FTP account you will need to input a login ID and password. Along with this, a directory will be created in your site files. Once you hit the ‘create FTP account’ button you must have access to your website files. (If you have trouble doing this then contact your web host service provider for assistance.)

 

Step 1: Install an FTP Client

In order to manipulate or act on the files you now have access to via your FTP account, you will need a tool. That tool is an FTP Client. FTP clients provide the interface for you to access your WordPress files. You can do so by entering your FTP account credentials.

For the purposes of demonstration, this article uses FileZilla. Download and install FileZilla.

 

Step 2: Manual Setup

In the case of FileZilla you’ll see a form at the top of the page to fill in your site IP address, your FTP account username, and password. Inputting these details and clicking on ‘Connect’ must allow the FTP client (in this case FileZilla) to connect to the server on which your site is hosted.

 

You can connect to your WordPress files via FTP

 

Once the FTP client establishes a connection you should be able to see your site directory on the right hand column- “Remote Site”. The left hand side shows the local folders and files (in this case, the files on your computer).

 

Creating a destination folder

 

Tip:

If you are not sure of which files you have to download then a useful guideline is to search for a directory containing folders such as “wp-admin” and “wp-content”. There will also be a bunch of files in that directory, such as “index.php” and “wp-config.php”.

 

Step 3: Create a Destination Folder for making WordPress Backup

Ensure that you have a destination folder on your computer to which you want to download the files. Usually it is best to create a new folder for each backup. It allows you to be organised and be more efficient when you want to restore from one of these backups.

You can create a new folder in the dashboard of the FTP client itself. Right click on the folder in which you wish to create the new folder and choose create new directory. Input a name for the folder and hit “Enter” and you’re done.

 

Step 4: Drag and Drop

From here on simply choose the WordPress files you want to backup by clicking on them. Holding the down the CTRL key when clicking will allow you to choose multiple files at once. Drag the chosen files from the ‘Remote Site section and drop them in the directory you just created in the ‘Local Site’ section. The download process must begin as soon as you do this.

 

The download will take a while

 

Fair warning… Downloading all the files may take a while. Grab a quick bite to eat or take walk. Before that ensure that your system has power and that your internet connection is stable.

If making manual backups it not feasible for you because of the time and effort it entails, then you can choose and WordPress backups services which automate the process for you.

You can not only track if all the files in your site and the tables in your database are getting backed up, but add/remove them to/from backups; and even download them whenever you desire. All by just clicking a couple of buttons- backup with ease and stay safe.