An ideal WordPress backup solution offers a number of features. However, there are two questions you can ask that will help you choose the best WordPress backup plugin for you. They are , what features does the plugin have, and how do they work?

What Makes an Ideal WordPress Backup Plugin?

There is a long list of features which make an ideal WordPress backup plugin.

  • Multiple versions
  • Multiple copies of each version
  • Encrypted backups
  • Independent storage and access
  • Test Restore
  • One-click restore
  • One-click migration
  • Secure site settings

A combination of all of the above sounds like a good deal; doesn’t it?

Most of these features are covered between the popular backup options available on the market. Also, most premium options have most of the above mentioned features. However, it is not useful to say this. It is like saying that every car has an engine, seats, wheels and steering. Just like cars, when it comes to backup solutions, it is all about how they perform; and you really need to do your homework first.

 

Choosing the Best WordPress Backup Plugin

 

There are two points of entry to the debate on the best WordPress backup plugin. One is the differences in features between all the different plugins; despite the uniform titles. The other point of debate is the user experience. What does a good WordPress backup solution do, and how does it do it? Both these questions should be equally relevant.

In this article we explore how following best practices as well as being efficient can answer both: the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ questions.

 

1. WordPress Incremental Backup Plugin

Increased load times or frequent timeouts is highly undesirable in today’s competitive environment. This is is particularly a problem for WordPress sites on shared hosting. Incremental backups is perfect for such circumstances.

For example, let us say that you have photography focused website with high resolution images uploaded everyday. If your entire site had to be backed up daily, then chances are that the backups ruin the user experience of you site’s visitors or your backups may cut off for taking up too much server resources.

On the other hand, consider that automatic incremental backups of your WordPress site are done daily. After the first initial full backup, each day only the latest updates are backed up. This ensures that you don’t lose any data while the backup solution does not unnecessarily load your server resources. The plugin can scan the site for changes, recognize that the high resolution images are backed up, and only add the changes to the latest version of the backups. This means that, media – images and videos which are generally the the most heavy files on a site do not become an extra burden with incremental backups.

 

2. Control over entire WordPress database & all WordPress files

A WordPress sites contain files and tables. You must be able to know that all the tables, and files on your site have been backed up. If not you must be able to add them. This is possible when you have access to a list which gives you this kind of information; a good WordPress backup solution must offer such access. From such a list, you may also be able to download specific files from WordPress backup. The same applies to specific tables in your WordPress database as well. This depends on your requirements but you need to have the option.

Such a feature along with versioned backups allows for restoration of specific files instead of the entire site. This is important if you know the exact pain point on your site. It can be fixed with ease and minimize down-times. This type of granular control is essential when choosing a WordPress backup solution.

The dread of having to sift through thousands of files; when you’re running against the clock to get your site back up and get around to doing business, is unacceptable.

 

3. One-click Restore/Migrate

When you pay for a solution to do the work for you, then you shouldn’t have to manually restore or migrate your site. Otherwise, there is little point to lightening your wallet, is there? A plugin must allow for one-click WordPress restore and one-click migrate options. Managing your site’s functionality in the most critical hours must not be your headache. Usually in such instances inputting your SFTP credentials, destination URL and email id should be enough to easily migrate your WordPress site.

 

4. Test restore option

Apart from restores and migrations, it is equally important for you to be able to ensure that your backups or migrations work as desired. Allowing for a test environment to verify the functionality of different backup versions of your WordPress is just a good practice but unfortunately, most plugins don’t offer this. It boosts your confidence in your backups and ensures that the reputation of your blog/business is intact.

 

5. Great customer support

A service or product which does not allow you to track all the activities from the dashboard, notify you by email will only worry you about routine processes. If the time comes when you have to get your hands dirty, then you should not do the work yourself when you are paying for a service. This is reason you need great customer support.

 

6. Completely independent dashboard

With a completely independent dashboard you have access to and control over your backups always. This means that, unlike other plugins which store backups in your site’s files, you don’t have to restore your site to get your hands on your safety net a.k.a. your backups. Besides, the whole point of backups is to restore your site. If that is not supported well enough then backups are not good enough by themselves. You need to know that you have access to secure backups. Multiple copies of encrypted off-site backups is a must.

All the above mentioned best practices will ensure that you’ll find the right value for your money when you need the best WordPress backup plugin.

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.

 

Making WordPress Backup to your Google Drive account may mean that you are choosing convenience over efficiency and security. Here’s why.
 

Uploading WordPress Backups to Google Drive

Google Drive presents a convenient option. To begin with it is accessed with your Google account. No multiple logins. Added to this 15 GB of storage space is free to users.

 

Google Drive seems like the perfect vault to store your WordPress backups in.
Google Drive seems like the perfect vault to store your WordPress backups in.

 

You can simply choose among the many plugins which allow you to upload your WordPress backups to Google Drive. UpdraftPlus, BackupGuard, and WP Database Backup are all example of plugins in the WordPress repository which allow you to do just this. However keep in mind in some cases, you may have to pay for an add-on to add Google Drive to your list of backup destinations.
 

Setting Up Google Drive with Your WordPress Backup Plugin

This process may take some steps to get through, but if you follow the documentation of the respective plugins it will be easy. However, the point to keep in mind is that setting up your Drive account with your backup plugins generally means that the plugin stores a ‘client ID’ and ‘client secret’ to your Drive account. This is how the plugin can upload backups to your Drive account. However, this can be a double-edged sword.
 

WordPress Backups to Google Drive: Pros & Cons

Google Drive gives users 15 GB of free storage space. This may prove sufficient if your site is not  large. The economic benefits from using a free plugin and having free storage space cannot be discounted without consideration. Along with this, you can gain access to your Drive account with your Google credentials; no extra logins required.

However, the very same advantages have another face when viewed from the perspective of control, efficiency, and security.
 

WordPress Restores from Google Drive

All backups are about restores. This means making restores must be easy and it must give full control. Backup files uploaded to Google Drive by plugins may not allow for this. It is true that with plugins like UpdraftPlus you can restore directly from your WordPress admin dashboard. However, this may not be enough.

Backups uploaded to Drive are usually in .zip folder; and that makes it very hard for you to find and restore individual files. This is, if your plugin allows for restoration of individual files; which is not always the case.

Restoring individual files has its benefits. Large sites take time to restore. This means more downtime. In other cases your hosting service may limit the time for each action. This is true of most cases, and in such cases your website may have to be manually restored. This is not a burden your business needs.  On the other hand, restoring individual files means that you can avoid all these complications and not suffer the cost from unnecessary downtime. With each passing day this cost continues to increase. For this reason, having more granular control over your backups and restores is important.
 

Are your Backups Secure in Your Google Drive Account?

The other point to consider is that your backups may be vulnerable because a single set of login credentials gives you access to all your accounts. If that is compromised then your backups may be compromised too. The other way is that if your WordPress site is hacked, then that may lead the hackers to your backups since your plugin stored the ‘client ID’ and ‘client secret’ to Drive account.
 

WordPress Backup to Google Drive: Storage Space Issues

In the case that your Google Drive account runs out of space, how will your plugin continue to make backups? You may want to know if you’ll get notifications from the developers of the  backup plugin you use. If this is not the case, then you may not have backups to make restore; which is when you need them the most

While convenience is one factor, uploading your WordPress backups to your Google Drive account may not allow you to practice WordPress backup best practices.
 

No Backup Descriptions

Now let us say that you are following good login practices, using smart passphrases, and following the basic security practices well. You also don’t mind making manual restores. In such a case you may be okay with a plugin which uploads your WordPress backups to your Google Drive account. While this not advisable from a security standpoint, you may still have to contend with another issue– backup descriptions.

As mentioned plugins usually upload your WordPress files in .zip files. The file names may have the date and time when the backups were made but not much else. When you want to manually restore a file you may want a description of what has changed from one backup version to the next. Without this, you may spend a considerable amount of time sifting through files, or spend time organizing backups in your Drive. Either way, you have to invest a considerable amount time and labor.

Tip:
When backing up to Google Drive, ensure that you label the downloaded backups in an organized manner, so you can categorize and differentiate backups. This will be helpful when you have to restore your site.
 

You need to safeguard your data in a more robust manner to ensure that in your hour of need you know not only know that you have access to backups but also that they are functional. Especially, if you’re running a small business or a popular blog then you might want to look at a more complete WordPress backup solution and continue making WordPress backup to Google Drive only as an additional step.

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