If you have owned a website for a few years you will know why people say that you should “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst”.
Things can go wrong at any time when you run a WordPress website. It is not a case of if things will go wrong, but when. Your website is always at risk of being attacked by malicious parties, however things can also go wrong with day to day tasks such as updates to core WordPress files, themes, and plugins.
When your website goes down your immediate priority is to restore your website and get it back online. This is why backups are so important. By backing up your WordPress database and files regularly, you can restore your website if something bad does happen.
In this article, I would like to show you 13 ways of backing up WordPress.
Why You Should Not Rely on Your Hosting Company's Backups
The vast majority of online hosting companies offer customers daily backups. Whilst these can be useful, do not rely on them as your only backup solution.
Hosting companies usually store backups at the same location as your website, which means if there is a problem at their data centre your original files and backup files could be lost too.
It can also take hours for a hosting company to restore your website if backups are available. This is a long time for your website to be offline. Additionally, those of you who are on a shared hosting plan might not be able to get a website rolled back because it affects other customers on the same server.
By taking full control of backups, you can guarantee that your website can always be restored in minutes, not hours.
1. Backing Up Manually
In order to fully restore a WordPress website, you need to back up two things: your WordPress database and your website files.
Your website files will include core WordPress files, themes, plugins, and media. If you have not already done so, it is worth backing up important files that are located outside WordPress folders too.
Backing up your website manually is not a practical long-term backup solution for established websites due to the time it takes to back up a large number of files. I do believe, however, that it is important for every WordPress user to know how to back up their WordPress database and files manually.
Additionally, for smaller websites, sometimes a manual backup of the website is sufficient. For example, I have some small content websites that are rarely updated. Since I am not adding new content every week, daily backups are not as important as they are for my other websites.
Your WordPress database can be exported via your database management application. In most hosting control panels, such as cPanel and Plesk, the database application that is available is phpMyAdmin. Do not be concerned if your hosting control panel uses a different database application as the process of backing up the database is the same.
There are WordPress plugins available that allow you to access phpMyAdmin directly from the WordPress admin area, however this can be a security risk so I would advise accessing phpMyAdmin from your hosting control panel.
Once you are in phpMyAdmin you need to select the correct database for your website. You can then either select all database tables and select export from the dropdown menu or you can backup your whole database from the export tab.
Once your WordPress database has been backed up, you need to backup your website files. You can do this using an FTP client such as FileZilla. The application is free to download and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Once you have connected to your website using the FTP login information your hosting company provided you when you signed up, you can select all of your website files and click to download them to your computer.
With so many great WordPress backup services and plugins, it can be easy to disregard the importance of knowing how to back up WordPress manually. The reality of running WordPress websites is that from time to time you will encounter problems backing up and restoring your website using automated backup solutions. When that happens, you need to know how to backup and restore your website manually.
Be sure to read the official documentation about WordPress backups for more information on this process.
BlogVault is a premium hosted backup solution for WordPress users that offers automated encrypted backups, one-click website restores, website staging, and malware scanning.
I switched from VaultPress to BlogVault in 2018 and migrated to a new hosting company with the help of their Migrate Guru migration WordPress plugin. I have been delighted with the service since I switched so it was no surprise when aThemes founder Charlie Livingston advised he started backing up websites with BlogVault too.
Once you have activated their BlogVault connection plugin, your WordPress database and website files will be backed up to their Amazon S3 servers.
The main dashboard area of BlogVault gives you an overview of your website. It displays the number of backups you have for your website and the total number of installed themes, plugins, and active users. Uptime monitoring is also shown and you can see the status of your website performance.
Security is an important element of the BlogVault service. BlogVault will scan your database and website files for malware and other suspicious activity to help you mitigate problems as soon as they occur. Their firewall also shows traffic requests and login requests.
A basic backup plan for BlogVault retails at an equivalent rate of $7.40 per month (billed at $89 per year). This gives you daily backups that are stored for 90 days in addition to other features such as website staging.
You need to jump up to their $12.40 per month plan to gain security scanning and real-time hourly website backups are available from $20.75 per month.
BlogVault allow you to test their service free of charge. I recommend signing up to get a better idea of what they offer.
If you would like to back up your website to a cloud storage service, check out WP Time Capsule. It offers automatic backups, one-click restores, website staging, restoration of specific files, and updates of important security fixes.
Backups and restores can be made to Google Drive, Dropbox or Amazon S3, in increments. This means that files that have not been changed do not need to be backed up again. It is a more efficient system as it uses less space and restores websites quicker.
WP Time Capsule is a premium solution, however you can download their WordPress plugin and test the service free of charge for 30 days.
In the plugin you can configure backups to be made daily, every 6 hours, every 12 hours, or in real-time. The restore window can also be defined and you can state which files and database tables are included or excluded from backups. Large files can be excluded too and there is an option to encrypt your database.
The business plan for WP Time Capsule costs $49 per year or a one-off fee of $149. This grants usage to two websites. Their higher-priced plans give support for more websites and increase the website restore window from 30 days.
Take advantage of their 30 free trial to see what WP Time Capsule can do.
VaultPress is a premium backup and restore solution from Automattic that offers automated backups, restores, website migration, file scanning, and spam protection.
The VaultPress WordPress plugin acts as a bridge that allows VaultPress to connect to your website and back up your website database and files to their servers.
I started using VaultPress to back up my websites when it was launched in 2010 until 2018 so I know the service well.
The way that VaultPress backs up database tables and files is fantastic and you can download and/or restore individual files and database tables at any time. This can be useful in many situations. For example, if you need to revert to a previous version of your WordPress .htaccess or wp-config.php file.
Unfortunately, I had multiple problems with restores during my last two years with VaultPress and their support team were not responding to tickets in weeks to help me so I had to stop using the service. Hopefully your experience will be better.
The lowest available plan is the Jetpack personal plan that retails at $39 for year. This grants you daily backups which are stored for 30 days. Other features, such as spam filtering, are also included in this plan. Their most expensive plan retails at $299 per year and provides hourly backups and automated security scanning.
If you use Jetpack and have been thinking about upgrading to a premium plan, it makes sense to give their backup service a try as it is included in your membership.
BoldGrid is an interesting WordPress backup solution that allows you to define the days and times that backups are made.
The BoldGrid WordPress plugin is free to download. In the free version you can back up directly to your website server or to a remote location using FTP. All previous backups are displayed and can be restored at any time.
Interestingly, BoldGrid has support for automatic updates to your website. You can choose to automatically update WordPress, themes, and plugins. I love how this whole feature has been implemented as it allows you to select which themes and plugins are updated and which are not.
The premium version of BoldGrid retails at $60 per year.
Upgrading adds the ability to back up your website to Amazon S3 and Google Drive. It will also show recently modified files and a historic list of files. This can prove to be very useful when reverting back to older template files.
There is a lot to like about BoldGrid. It lets you select exactly when backups are made and the built-in update features are a welcome inclusion.
Additionally, for an effective rate of only $5 per month, you can upgrade in order to back up to Amazon S3 and Google Drive and gain more control over your files.
The plugin allows you to back up your WordPress database and files to a number of locations. This includes email, FTP and sFTP, Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, andRackspace Cloud, and their own off-site backup service BackupBuddy Stash.
Files and database tables can be excluded from backups. For example, you could exclude media folders from backups to keep backup files small. You can also limit the number of backups and size of backups that are stored. Malware scanning is available too.
The BackupBuddy plugin has many useful features for migrating websites, such as URL replacement and the ability to change the domain URL when you migrate to a new server.
Developers will also find their website staging and website cloning options a time saver when moving client websites.
At the time of writing the entry level blogger plan for BackupBuddy is available at $49 per year instead of $80 per year. This grants use and support for one website. Their gold plan, which allows unlimited use, is currently available at $129 per year instead of $199. All BackupBuddy licenses also give you 1GB of BackupBuddy Stash storage space.
BackupBuddy is well regarded within the WordPress world so is one you should consider. Be aware, however, that there is no online demo or free trial available and the developers have disappointingly adopted a no-refund policy because they are selling a digital item.
With over 2 million active installations, UpdraftPlus is undoubtedly one of the most popular backup WordPress solutions on the market. It is a user-friendly solution that lets you easily upload backup files, delete stored backup files, and restore a website backup with one click.
Some of the plugin's best features are only available in UpdraftPlus Pro. This includes features such as website cloning and migration, incremental backups, backup scheduling, and an option to backup non-WordPress files from your server.
Whilst the free version of UpdraftPlus does not offer advanced features, it does give full control over where your backups are stored.
You can back up your website via email, FTP and sFTP, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, Google Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Backblaze, and more. It is pretty amazing that all of these services are supported, especially when you consider that most WordPress backup plugins charge for this functionality.
A personal license for UpdraftPlus Pro retails at $84 in the first year and $50.40 in subsequent years and allows use of the plugin on two websites. Higher tier plans increase the number of websites that are supported, however 1GB of storage to Updraft Vault is included with all licenses.
If you do not need advanced features such as incremental backups and website cloning, the free version of UpdraftPlus may do everything you need.
8. Backup Guard
Backup Guard is another useful WordPress backup plugin that you should check out.
In the free version of the plugin you can select whether you back up your whole website or whether certain database tables or website files are excluded. Backups can be downloaded to your computer directly or saved to Dropbox and be scheduled to be processed every hour, day, week, or month.
You can restore stored backups at any time.
If you upgrade to one of the premium versions of Backup Guard, you can unlock additional features.
The silver plan at $19.95 per year adds an option to migrate websites and adds support for FTP and sFTP backups.
The gold plan at $35.95 increases usage from two websites to five and adds support for backing up to Amazon S3, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Backup retention options are also added.
Backup Guard is one of the simplest backup plugins I have used with WordPress. Those of you who are looking to store backups on Dropbox will be happy with the free version, however Backup Guard premium plans are sensibly priced for those that want to upgrade.
All-in-One WP Migration is a website migration solution for WordPress that is installed on over 2 million websites. It was designed to simplify the process of making website backups and migrating WordPress websites to a new location
One reason the plugin is so popular is because it helps tackle the maximum upload file size that most hosting companies enforce. This limit frequently stops WordPress website owners from successfully uploading their backup file.
All-in-One WP Migration bypasses this restriction by saving backups using their own .wpress extension and restoring websites in chunks.
Apart from an option to find and replace text in your website database, there are few options within the plugin.
The truth is that as a backup solution for an established website, it is hard to recommend All-in-One WP Migration. In the free version you can only backup websites manually directly to your computer.
In order to back up your website to the many cloud storage services that are supported, you have to buy a premium extension. Unfortunately, these extensions are very expensive, retailing at $99 each. They even charge $99 for adding support for FTP backups and imports.
All-in-One WP Migration is a useful WordPress plugin if need to transfer your website. It is also a great alternative to backing up a website manually using phpMyAdmin and FTP as the whole process is straight-forward.
If, however, you are looking for a way to back up your WordPress website on a daily basis, there are better solutions on the market.
Duplicator is a WordPress migration and backup plugin that is actively used on over one million WordPress websites.
In the free version of the plugin you can create backups and store them on your website server. When you create a “Backup Package” you can exclude specific folders and database tables from the back up.
You can also password protect your backups for additional security. This is something I would advise doing if you are storing backups directly on your website server.
Upgrading to Duplicator Pro adds email notifications and the ability to schedule backups. It also expands your backup options so that you can back up to custom directories, via FTP and sFTP, and to cloud services such as Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.
Multi-threading is also added to help ensure larger websites and databases transfer smoothly.
A personal license for Duplicator Pro retails at $59 per year and grants support and updates for three websites. Higher priced plans increase website usage and unlock “power Tools”; which adds hourly schedules, installer branding, installer salt & key replacement, priority support and other features.
The free version of Duplicator is a simple backup solution, however it does have some useful options such as password protection and file and database table exclusion.
Duplicator Pro expands the plugin considerably and is worth checking out.
BackWPup is a popular backup WordPress plugin that lets you back your full website up to your server, via FTP, via email, and to cloud storage services such as Amazon S3, Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, RackSpaceCloud, and SugarSync.
Exporting via a WordPress XML export file is also possible and you can schedule backups and define which website folders and database tables to back up.
BackWPup Pro adds support for Google Drive and Amazon Glacier. It also adds the option to encrypt backup archives.
More importantly, the pro version of the plugin allows you to restore your backups; functionality that is sorely missed from the free version.
You can purchase a one website license for BackWPup Pro for $39 per year. Additional plans are available that allow use on multiple websites.
BackWPup has got fantastic support for backing up to cloud storage services and gives you full control over which files and tables are saved.
You do, however, need to upgrade to BackWPup Pro if you want the ability to restore backups easily.
XCloner is a versatile backup solution that allows you to easily schedule backups as often as you want. You can back up your website hourly, every 12 hours, every day, every week, or every month. Backups can be restored at any time.
You can exclude selected files and folders and database tables from backups. Interestingly, XCloner also gave me the option of backing up other databases I had created in phpMyAdmin that were not being used with WordPress.
Backups can be encrypted and stored via FTP and sFTP, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, Backblaze, and WebDAV. A plugin extension is available that adds support for Google Drive.
A log can be enabled that shows a history of your backups, however my favourite feature is the option to automatically generate a backup before any automatic WordPress upgrades are performed. My website recently crashed during a recent WordPress upgrade so I know firsthand how useful this is.
XCloner has many great backup options not found in other backup solutions and it has support for most major cloud storage services.
Perhaps the biggest selling feature of the plugin is the fact that it is 100% free. No premium version or premium extensions are available. Everything is provided free of charge.
The last backup solution in our list is WP Database Backup. The plugin features backup scheduling, one-click backup restores, and the option to store backups by direct download, via FTP and sFTP, or to Google Drive, Amazon S3, and Dropbox.
Backups can be processed every hour, 12 hours, daily, weekly, or monthly. You can exclude database tables too, however you have to upgrade to the pro version of the plugin in order to exclude website files.
WP Database Backup Pro retails at only $22 for a single website license.
The pro version adds cloning and migration options, file exclusion, improved cloud storage integration, WordPress multisite support, and downloadable log files.
WP Database Backup is a simple WordPress backup solution, however it works well and has good support for cloud storage services.
One to check out.
I hope you now have a better understanding of the backup solutions that are available for WordPress and why backups are so important.
If you are new to WordPress, deciding which backup method to use can be daunting as there are many backup solutions available to WordPress users.
Do not be fooled into thinking that there is a “Perfect Backup Solution” that is right for everyone. That is simply not true. It all depends on what your budget is and what your needs are.
I use a variety of backup solutions for my websites. For my most important websites I use hosted backup services such as BlogVault as I can restore my website even if WordPress is not working correctly (e.g. white screen of death). In contrast, most WordPress backup plugins need WordPress to be working correctly in order to perform a website restore.
For less important projects I use solutions such as UpdraftPlus and XCloner to back up websites to the cloud. I also manually back up my small content websites using phpMyAdmin and FTP as they are rarely updated.
My advice is to try out many different WordPress backup services and plugins to get a better understanding of what works for you and your websites.