WordPress 101: Back that shit up

wordpress101

When was the last time you backed up your WordPress database? Or files?

Mm-hmm.

We’re all guilty of it.

As much as I love WordPress, it can be dodgy. Plugins can be corrupt, causing all manner of problems to arise within your database. There are security holes that can allow hackers to cause irreversible damage to your files and database. And then, of course, there’s good old fashioned human error.

One way or another you need to backup. Here are my top tips for making sure you’ve got the safety net of a backup for your WordPress website or blog.

What is a backup?

A backup is a carbon copy of your WordPress website. Your WordPress website consists of files (that you can see via your FTP, these are your themes, images, and WordPress itself) and your database (this is where all the information is stored). A backup can consist of just files, just the database, or both.

Here’s what WordPress has to say about backups.

NB: I don’t usually backup plugins unless they’re premium/have been adjusted in any way. They’re generally easy enough to re-download, and it saves some time/space by leaving them out of your backup.

Regularity

The regularity of your backups depending on how often you update your website. I tend to go for a weekly backup of the database, and a monthly backup of files. It might sound tempting to do a daily backup, but this can cause a lot of server load and is generally unnecessary (but if your hosts offer it, then awesome!).

Most backup plugins offer you control over when and what you backup, and offer their advice on regularity.

I’d also suggest manually backing up at least once a month, and checking that your automated backup solution is still working correctly!

Before and After

Along with a regular schedule of backups, you should take time to backup before and after any updates. That includes WordPress core updates, plugin updates and theme updates. Better safe than sorry!

Check if your hosts offer a free backup

There are some really great dedicated/managed WordPress hosts out there, and many of them offer backups as standard. WP Engine, for instance, offer a free daily backup of both your database and files.

It’s not just the dedicated WordPress hosts, either. My host of choice here in the UK, Krystal, offer daily backups with all of their plans.

Where to store your Backup

Depending on your backup method, you can store your WordPress backup in a variety of places. The most usual place is on your server, where your actual WordPress install lives. This isn’t ideal, and I really wouldn’t recommend relying on just this version of your backup.

To be safe, you should have your backup stored in a variety of places, here are a few options.

  • Your server
  • Your computer
  • Dropbox
  • An external drive
  • Google Drive
  • A different server

The more backups, the safer your ass.

The Best Plugins

Don’t worry if your host doesn’t offer backups, there’re a variety of other ways that you can backup your site using some free and premium WordPress plugins. And even if your host does offer backups, I’d always suggest going ahead and generating a backup of your own elsewhere… just in case.

Here are a few of my favourites to get you started, but there are plenty of other options available (give “best wordpress backup plugins” a google, and check out recent round-ups).

Updraft Plus is an awesome – possibly the best – free plugin that makes backing up your WordPress site super easy. There are LOADS of options with this plugin, including backing up to Amazon S3, Dropbox, and your email.

Another of my favourite free backup plugins is WordPress Backup to Dropbox. This is a free plugin, and connects your WordPress site with your Dropbox account, creating automated backups on a regular schedule.

A premium plugin that’s definitely worth a look at is BackupBuddy, offering some great features alongside automated backups, BackupBuddy makes automated backups easy as pie, and does all the fun stuff of storing your backups on external storage areas! In fact, this is the plugin that I use.

VaultPress is another premium (paid for) service, but it’s one of the best Wordpress automated backup plugins.

For instructions on manually backing up your WordPress website, check out the information over on WordPress itself.

What to do with your backup if your site dies

Your backup will let you restore your WordPress website without much stress. The plugins above offer instructions on restoring your site (and most of the time the restoration process depends on the plugin you’ve used), and your hosts will also provide instructions (or do it for you).

It can get quite technical, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a developer if you’re struggling.

 TL;DR

  • Backup with regularity
  • Don’t rely on automated backup plugins, take the occasional manual backup through that plugin too
  • Store your backups in a variety of places
  • Always backup before any updates to your WordPress site

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