How to Backup your WordPress Website

Making backups of your WordPress website is a tremendously good idea. If your site gets hacked or if files get deleted by accident then you will be VERY happy to have a backup (I’ve done both). In this post, I only talk about backing up your self hosted WordPress site with a plugin. The advantage of a plugin is that you can automate the process by scheduling regular backups and it’s also more streamlined than the manual approach

Before choosing the plugin that might suit you best, know this: Shared hosting providers don’t backup WordPress.  

It’s typical for shared hosting providers to backup ALL files in your account and your database once every couple of weeks but then to restore those files it’s a manual process of downloading and ftp’ing to your server – and why go through this pain when you can do push button backups with a plugin. 

Also, know this: Shared hosting providers do NOT allow you to store backup files.

Shared hosting providers (Bluehost, GoDaddy, DreamHost, etc) will limit your disk space – even if they say they don’t 🙂 They advertise “unlimited space” because they don’t set limits when you sign up but when you go outside of what they accept for a “regular website” then they will tell you to clean it up. Also, I didn’t check ALL of of the TOS wordings but for Bluehost they explicitly state their hosting does NOT allow you to store backup files . I’m sure it’s the same for all shared hosting providers.  

A backup or two probably won’t sound the alarm but if you want to do regular backups and ensure those backups aren’t corrupted if you get backed then store them elsewhere!

Luckily today, it’s very easy to use a 3rd party service to host your backup files. Dropbox gives you 4GB of free space and you get 15GB with Google Drive so both should be WAY more than enough! A Note About Managed WordPress Hosts: If I’ve scared you already and you don’t like the idea of figuring this out then you can also look into a “managed” WordPress host that will typically provide backups as part of their service. Managed hosts are about 4 times the price of a shared host but provide a lot of valuable services if you don’t want to be responsible for doing backups, updating plugins, updating WordPress versions,  etc. (ie: managing your WordPress install).  

Without further ado, here are some options for WordPress Backup Plugins:

1. Ready! Backup

(by Backup Plugin Ready) Currently – Downloads: 199,510 and Rating: 3.6 out of 5 Ready-Backup-WordPress-Plugin

This plugin will provide a full backup of your database plus your full file system and allows you to schedule the backup (every hour, every day, every day twice, every week or every month). The free version stores the files automatically via ftp on your host in a folder under wp-content. The Premium version sends the backup to a third-party location (dropbox, google drive, amazon s3, microsoft prime drive or email ). Once you install the plugin, it adds a “Ready Backup” menu item in your Dashboard. I thought this backup plugin worked well. The interface is basic but there’s a log to see backups, each backup has a restore link for fast easy restore. Good but again, I recommend storing your backups to a 3rd party location so premium signup would likely be the way to go here.

See this WordPress Backup Plugin  


2. BackupWordPress

(by Human Made Limited and others.. ) Currently – Downloads: 1,227,643 and Rating: 4.6 out of 5 BackUpWordPress-Plugin

When you activate this plugin, you will have a new “backup” menu item under “tools” in your dashboard. You are given several options for schedule and have the option of backing up the db, the files or both. The free version stores the backup in your wp-content folder on your host. There is an excellent option to in the plugin: “Number of backups to store on this server”. Therefore if you DO choose to keep backups on your host, you can easily keep the storage space down but now keeping so many copies (you just need to catch problems before you rewrite all your backups with bad versions). If you want to upgrade, you can get a single site license for $24 for backup to either Google Drive, Dropbox, ftp or other places. You can also buy unlimited site licensed backups for $99. When I test this out, I ended up having to upgrade my PHP version (this plugin requires PHP version 5.3.2 or later). If you ever run into this you can ask your host to update your server’s PHP or sometimes you can actually update the version yourself  (on Bluehost, there’s actually an easy “php config” button in your backend that you can click to upgrade). The only thing I didn’t really like about this plugin was the backup restore process. You’ll have to use phpMyAdmin and an ftp client to manually restore files. Apart from that, if you go to the support page, you can see that the plugin author is VERY responsive to help questions and most of the bad reviews seem to be for things out of his control.

See this WordPress Backup Plugin


3. Updraft Plus

(by Backup with UpdraftPlus and David Anderson) Currently – Downloads: 1,440,260 and Rating: 4.8 out of 5 Update-Draft-WordPress-BackupPlugin Once you activate this plugin, you can find it in your Dashboard area under the “Settings” menu. The free version of this plugin will backup your database and all your files and store them in an “updraft” folder under wp-content or a 3rd party host (tuns of options here). The free version also allows you to choose your backup schedule from a dropdown list of options and select how many backups you wish to keep. I tested out the plugin with Dropbox. To get dropbox to work you complete an authentication step but they make it VERY easy to do but just clicking on a link and signing into dropbox. This plugin worked great for me! Dropbox upload worked great and the restore function is fantastic! If you want to upgrade to a premium version, you’ll get email support and add-ons.

See this WordPress Backup Plugin  


4. BackWPup Free – WordPress Backup Plugin

(by Inpsyde GmbH and others.. ) Currently – Downloads: 1,524,303 and Rating: 4.2 out of 5

BackWPup-WordPress-Plugin Once you activate this plugin, you get a new “BackWpUp” menu item on the left hand side of your Dashboard area. To create a backup or create a new schedule for backups, you need to create a “job”. This is actually a neat idea because you can create a different schedule to backup your content and website files. Perhaps you even want to schedule different backups to different locations? Who knows. Scheduling and sending backups to dropbox are both free options with this plugin. Setting up a job and authenticating with Dropbox was VERY easy. If you want to upgrade, the Premium version offers support and allows you to send backups to other locations (google drive, S3 servers, etc). The only thing I’m not liking about this plugin is the process to restore. There appears to be no way to select the backup to restore. Again, you’ll have to grab those backup files and use phpMyAdmin and ftp for a manual restore. See this WordPress Backup Plugin


A Couple of Other Options

WordPress Backup to Dropbox Currently – Downloads: 1,227,643 and Rating: 4.6 out of 5 VaulPress Currently – Downloads 83,514 and Rating 4.4 out of 5

Two Important Notes

1. Backing up Content If you wan to backup just your content (your posts, pages, tags, etc) then you will need to backup your database AND also your upload directory. If you only backup your database and not your upload directory then you will be missing all your images!

2. Sending Backups to Dropbox Dropbox will store your backups automatically in the Apps folder (unless otherwise specified). Whenever it gives authentication to an app, that’s where it gives access. Therefore, if you are syncing dropbox on your local machine be sure to also include the “apps” folder!   Hope this helped you make an informed decisions about which WordPress backup plugin you’ll choose for your own site. For me, I’m choosing to use #3 (Updraft Plus) for all my sites. The free version actually has everything I need. Getting this setup isn’t the most fun task to do but trust me, a little assurance is worth it!  

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6 thoughts on “How to Backup your WordPress Website”

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