Choosing the right WordPress backup plugin is extremely crucial to your business. Losing your site to a hack or crash is a site owner’s nightmare and that’s a well-known fact. What’s worse is the realization that your backup doesn’t work, when all along you assumed that your data was safe. Ideally, a backup plugin should come with a set-it-up-and-forget-it model and work ALL the time. However, no plugin is perfect. But there are those that come close. In this article, I share my experience with two of the popular WordPress backup plugins – UpdraftPlus and blogVault.
Setting up the WordPress backup plugin
The setup process should be quick and easy to follow. It shouldn’t involve too many steps or technical details.
UpdraftPlus comes in free as well as premium versions. The free version includes a basic software using which you can schedule backups and store them in a remote destination. The premium software supports the full set of features like migration, importing backups, multiple storage destinations, etc. Each of these features can also be purchased as individual add-ons.
The plugin can be installed from the WordPress plugin repository and activated as in the case of regular plugins. All the options such as scheduling backups and configuring remote destinations are available on a single page. The complexity arises because the user is expected to schedule backups before the plugin can start backing data. The schedule defaults to manual method of backup.
You also need to specify how many backups that the plugin must retain. While this provides good flexibility to an experienced WordPress user, a newbie will not have an idea on the right number of backups to archive. You also have the option to configure which files you want to include/ exclude while backing up your data. But this is an optional step and the plugin will backup everything by default.
The entire setup takes just a few minutes to fill but requires prior understanding of backups.
Although UpdraftPlus takes just a few minutes to setup, it requires a thorough understanding of your backup needs such as schedule, offsite location, archive limit, etc which can be overwhelming for regular users
blogVault too is available in the WordPress plugin repository and can be directly installed on your site. Additionally, you need to register with blogVault in order to get your unique activation code. Once your registration is completed, the first backup is started immediately.
blogVault handles everything from schedule to storage. blogVault’s setup is simple, quick, and easy to follow
Scheduling your WordPress Backup
Schedules are an integral part of your backup strategy. Different plugin supports different types of schedules – daily, weekly, monthly and a combination of these types. You can also have backups that only work on your database, or certain files, or your complete site.
UpdraftPlus offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to backup schedules. You can choose from daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly backups. If you have a site that undergoes multiple updates in a day, the plugin will work well for you as it also supports backup every 4, 8, and 12 hours.
You can specify separate schedules for files and database. For example, if may want to backup your database every day but files just once a week, UpdraftPlus lets you do this very easily. You can also specify an exclude list for the backups. For example, if you want to omit uploads or cache directories, you can do so. However, the free version doesn’t allow you to configure the time at which your backup should start and you need an add-on for it.
blogVault schedules daily automated backup of your complete site. It backs up everything, including your files and database. You have the option of initiating on-demand backup at any point of time and even fix a time for your scheduled backups.
blogVault clearly follows a different philosophy in comparison to UpdraftPlus when it comes to flexibility. It shifts the onus of configuration and management from the users to the plugin making it easy for anyone, even those who are new to WordPress, to use blogVault. Backups don’t impact the day to day working of a business and hence should take up as little time of the users as possible. With blogVault, there is nothing for the user to do after the initial registration process. It manages everything in the background, oblivious to its users.
blogVault manages all the aspects of your WordPress backup, thus providing a hassle-free experience to the user.
Offsite Storage for your WordPress backup
Offsite storage plays a critical role in ensuring that your backups are safe even if your site goes down. Both blogVault and UpdraftPlus support offsite storage.
UpdraftPlus relies entirely on third party offsite storage such as DropBox and Amazon S3 and doesn’t offer any storage of its own. In the free version of the software, you can just add one remote destination an offsite storage location. In order to add multiple destinations, you must either purchase an add-on or upgrade to the premium version.
UpdraftPlus supports various storage destinations like Google Drive, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Rackspace etc. However, these avenues offer just plain storage space and managing your backups can be a challenge over time. If you go with daily backups, we are talking 30 backups a month and 360 in a year. It definitely won’t be easy to rummage through 100s of backups to locate the right one when the need for a restore arises. Additionally, using your own account means that you must include the access key on your site which is considered a security threat. To know more, read our article on Why S3 WordPress Backups created by UpdraftPlus are unsafe.
blogVault provides 5GB of offsite storage for all its customers. In case you’re wondering if daily complete backups are going to hog your storage quota quickly, you needn’t worry. blogVault does a complete backup your site the very first time and from then on, only picks up the changes since the last backup. This method, known as incremental backup, ensures optimum usage of space and hence the best way of creating backups. Whenever you want to restore a specific backup to your site, blogVault intelligently recreates the entire backup using these parts.
The story doesn’t end there. blogVault stores multiples copies of data on its own as well as Amazon S3 servers. Since blogVault uses its own S3 account, you don’t have to undergo the hassle of setting up and managing your account. The access key is also secured, so your data is complete safe.
All in all, blogVault makes it super simple for the users by managing everything in the background. But if there is a need to stash away your backup to a remote destination, it also supports the Upload to Dropbox feature. Using this, you can directly upload any version of your backup from the dashboard to your Dropbox account.
The support team plays a key role in increasing customer satisfaction. Every user wants to feel assured that they have invested in a reliable service, and quality and support are two factors that help you get there.
UpdraftPlus offers different levels of support depending on the type of software you’re using. There is a well-documented FAQ section that answers most of the common queries. In case your question doesn’t feature there and if you’re a licensed customer, you can use the query submission form to submit your question. The only drawback here is that all the plans, including the unlimited one, comes with just 1 year of support.
Free software users have to fall back on the online forum for any support queries. In case you think you are looking for answers to a specific problem, you can also purchase support in the form of an add-on. An interesting point to note here is that if your problem is found to be a defect in UpdraftPlus plugin, you are entitled to a full refund.
UpdraftPlus includes a well-documented FAQ and online forum for handling queries. The only drawback is that all plans come with just one year of support
Support is undoubtedly blogVault’s key strengths. It supports personalized email and chat support to all its customers. What’s more, the support is extended as long as the customer uses the plugin, at no additional cost.
The support team not only responds to your queries quickly, they also go the distance to ensure that you have all the help you need to resolve the issue. Besides providing excellent support, the team is very responsive to feature requests and bug reports. Click here to read more about what customers have to say about blogVault’s support.
Managing your WordPress Backups
Backups aren’t something that directly impacts your business or day-to-day working. So any effort directed at backup management means losing precious productivity hours. A good plugin is the one that provides a simple and efficient way to manage backups.
UpdraftPlus lets you view all your backups from within the WordPress site. However, instead of storing your entire site as a single backup file, it does a four way split for database, plugins, themes, and others.
Each backup thus ends up creating four files in your storage location. If we’re going in for daily backups, it translates to 150 backup files in a month. This can easily become unmanageable over time.
Also, if you have multiple sites being backed up using the same plugin, you have to manage each of them separately from the respective sites.
blogVault’s dashboard makes for a clean and simple interface that enables complete backup management. Irrespective of how many sites you’re backing up or what action you want to initiate, everything can be achieved from a single place.
With blogVault’s dashboard, you can view and restore backups, migrate your site, download backups, and initiate on demand backups. This easy to use interface makes it possible for you to manage everything from a single place without having to dig.
blogVault’s History page is another important factor when it comes to managing your backups. This includes a list of all the 30 versions of backup that blogVault maintains for you. Apart from details such as number of posts and pages, WordPress version, etc, the History page also highlights the changes in each backup. This is not all. blogVault includes a screenshot of the site corresponding to each backup which can be very handy in determining the right backup at a glance.
blogVault’s dashboard is a one-stop solution when it comes to managing your backups. Its clean and simple interface helps you find everything in a single place without having to dig.
Restoring your WordPress Backup
From database corruption to human error, there can be many causes for service disruption. Or an evil hacker may have crashed your site causing a complete wipeout of your data. In all these cases, having a plugin with a good restore feature helps you get back to serving your customers quickly.
UpdraftPlus supports the restore feature to help you revert back to older versions of your site. However, their support page emphasizes on the manual method being a better option. The plugin also allows you to restore a backup in parts – themes, plugins, database, etc. This can be useful when you’re only looking to restore your database but this needs a good depth of understanding. So don’t try it unless you know you’re doing.
The basic software doesn’t rewrite URLs while restoring to a new URL which can leave a trail of broken links/ images that still refer to the old location. You must either upgrade to the premium version or buy an add-on to achieve this. Overall, the restore is complex and unintuitive for most users unless you are an experienced WordPress user. But this is contradictory to their claim that experienced users rely on manual backup instead of an automated process.
blogVault’s Auto-Restore is a simple and easy to follow process. After you click the Auto-Restore link, all you’ve to do is to enter the FTP credentials and blogVault does the rest of the job for you. The entire process takes up to a few minutes depending on the size of your backup. Once the restore is completed, you also received an email notifying the same.
Unlike UpdraftPlus, blogVault only supports a complete site restore and you don’t have the option of picking just the files or database. However, blogVault adopts the incremental approach to restore as in the case of backup and saves time by only restoring the portion that has changed. It makes this decision intelligently based on the version of the backup instead of relying on the user’s judgment.
Migrating your WordPress Backup
WordPress users are often faced with the challenge of moving their site to a different host or URL. Downtime is one of the biggest concerns during this movement. It is undoubtedly a blessing to have an automated way to achieving this task.
Migrating a site using UpdraftPlus can only be done either using its premium software or the Migrator add-on. The free version of the plugin doesn’t support this feature.
blogVault simply follows a restore like process to migrate sites. You only need to enter the new URL (if you want to change the URL) and the FTP credentials. blogVault moves all your data including files and database and also rewrites the URLs. Here is a video that demonstrates this process.
No redirects are added by blogVault. You are required to do this manually at the end of the migration process.
Test Restore your WordPress Backup
Test Restore is an extremely handy feature that lets you verify a specific version of backup before going live with it. It can be quite a life saver when you’ve to choose the right candidate from a list of backups.
With UpdraftPlus, there is no way of knowing if the chosen backup is the right one unless you restore it completely. This might not pose an issue in case your site crashes and you want to revert back to the latest version of backup. However, in cases of botched upgrades or issues during development, you may have to go back to specific older version of your backup. Multiple restores may be needed to narrow down on the right one.
In some cases, the plugin displays a warning at the end of a restore that a file may be corrupted. While it is good to be notified of such issues, there isn’t much you can do if it is at the end of a restore. What would have been ideal is if the plugin ran some integrity checks at the start of the restore and reported such issues right away.
With UpdraftPlus, there is no way of knowing if a chosen backup version is the correct one unless you restore it completely.
blogVault supports the Test Restore feature using which you can verify any backup version before deploying it. blogVault restores the complete backup temporarily on its test servers so that you can sure of it before proceeding with live deployment.
Backup for Local Sites
Local sites are commonly used as a development setup by designers while creating or modifying sites for their clients. This activity can span over many weeks and involves considerable effort. Hence it is crucial to take regular backups as a single crash could translate to days/ weeks of wasted effort.
Using UpdraftPlus to backup your local site doesn’t require any specific steps. On setting the remote destination to none, the plugin starts storing backups on the local server. Once your local development is completed, you can go live with it using the migration feature. As I pointed out earlier, you’ll need either the premium software or migratory add-on to do that.
blogVault only supports publicly accessible sites. In order to backup a local site, you need to first use a tool that makes your site available outside of your local network. From then on, you can use blogVault to backup your site just like any other. Ngrok is one such free service that helps you achieve this. It provides a URL to your site making it publicly accessible. You can then proceed with using blogVault like any regular site using this URL.
Support for Large Sites
Most backup plugins work fine for regular sites. But if you have site that spans many GBs in size, the plugin choice becomes far more crucial. Many plugins are known to slow down your site and even fail when it comes to working with such large sites.
UpdraftPlus works fairly well with large sites. A large site of over 1GB in size took just over 20 minutes for a complete backup. The only hitch here is that the plugin makes a complete copy of your site every time a backup is scheduled and thus use a lot of storage space.
blogVault works flawlessly with large sites owing it its incremental method of backup. Although the first backup of a site of size 1GB took over 30 minutes to complete, subsequent backups were completed in a few minutes as the plugin only picks up the changes since the last backup. This approach also saves precious storage space for you.
blogVault works perfectly well for large sites spanning many GBs where most plugins are known to fail.
The cost factor is the last on my list. This is because I strongly believe that the cost of losing your data is far higher than the price of a backup plugin. However, it is important to be convinced that your hard earned money is being spent on a reliable service that’ll deliver what’s needed without any hassles.
UpdraftPlus’s basic plan starts with 2 sites for $60 per year. Since the plugin doesn’t include a storage space of its own, you might need to pay extra for it depending on your choice of storage. Moreover, all the plans include just 1 year of support and upgrade. This again translates to additional charges after the first year of subscription.
blogVault charges $89 per year for a single site license, including 5GB of storage. With its incremental backup method, blogVault efficiently uses this space to store maximum number of backups. All plans include features such as Auto Restore, Migration, and Test Restore that make for a complete backup service. Above all, blogVault’s customized support really makes the difference at the end of the day. As long as you stay with blogVault, you get to enjoy excellent support and free upgrades to the plugin.
UpdraftPlus is a good plugin in terms of functionality. However, features like restore require you a have a certain level of experience and can be complicated for new users. Apart from being unintuitive, the restore feature acted up on me a couple of times before successful completion. Restore being the core backup feature, I couldn’t help being uneasy of the reliability of the plugin. The free version of its software doesn’t include migration and email support and you’ll need to upgrade to the premium software to enjoy all the benefits.
blogVault goes beyond being a mere plugin and provides a complete backup service. It is suited for small bloggers, new users, or even large organizations who want to stay at ease with the knowledge that everything is being managed by a group of experts. Above all, it is extremely reliable with a near zero failure rate.
I choose blogVault. What about you?