What should I understand before undertaking a restoration?

Restoring parts of WordPress from inside WordPress always carries risks. Our aim is to reduce them as much as possible. If you are in doubt about anything, then remember that we sell a hands-on “we’ll do it for you” product in our shop, in the “Support” sectionRemember: though we want UpdraftPlus to work as reliably as possible (that’s how we get customers), ultimately it is a do-it-yourself tool, that you are finally responsible for the use of. If you want to hold another person responsible, then first hire that person to do the job for you!

Anything to worry about?

Firstly, if your website and its backups are not large (measured in the tens of megabytes instead of the hundreds), and if you can directly access it (i.e. it is not walled behind a proxy service such as CloudFlare or GoDaddy’s “DNS Preview”), then it is likely that you can stop reading now (although if you are restoring a site to a different address (URL), then see the note below). Even the most resource-starved of web hosting companies will be giving you enough resources so that you have nothing to worry about. If your website is under 200 megabytes, then you should still be fine as long as you have not over-economised with under-resourced web hosting (or been conned by high-priced hosts who sell you the same product with nicer branding!). You can also stop reading. Otherwise, read on.

Experts may prefer to do it manually

The safest and quickest way to restore WordPress is often manually, from the shell (or via FTP if no shell is available). Why is it safer and quicker? Mainly because it is not subject to the time-outs that come when running inside a web browser, and also can run quicker. However, the manual way also requires the most technical skills. If you do have the skills, then there are no technical advantages to doing it inside UpdraftPlus instead of manually – only convenience. The instructions for manual restoration are here.

Mostly, there’s nothing to worry about

Don’t let the above paragraph worry you unduly. All restorations of plugins, themes, uploads and (where relevant – on WordPress Multisite) additional blogs and must-use plugins are done atomically. This means that it’s all or nothing – either the restoration will be entire/complete, or nothing will be restored. UpdraftPlus does this by unpacking the download, and then moving the entire folder into place at once. So, there’s almost no risk of anything going wrong with restoration of those entities. If you have the “more files” add-on, in order to back-up and restore WordPress core, then this restoration cannot be done completely atomically. The atomicity is per-directory within your WordPress root. i.e. Inside the directory that has WordPress in it, UpdraftPlus moves in one directory/file at a time. This is still very low risk; moving things is only done once the entire archive is unpacked (into temporary storage), and the consequent moving around is almost instantaneous.

Maximise your chances

To maximise the amount of time that WordPress is allowed to spend on any one operation, you should access your website directly if you can. If your website is on CloudFlare or another proxy service (e.g. GoDaddy’s “DNS Preview” service), then temporarily disable it. Many proxy services impose a time-out that is lower than your web hosting company’s own time-out.

The database

The main risk is when restoring a database upon under-powered cheap web hosting. The risk is larger the larger your site is. This cannot be done atomically. If it aborts mid-way (e.g. due to a time-out), then you will be left with a database which partially contains the old data and partially contains of the new. However, if you are restoring a database, then presumably either your old and new databases are very similar, or the site you are restoring to is not live (we can’t imagine how someone would be replacing a very different database on a live site). In order to maximise the amount of time you have available to complete a restoration, you can and should:

  • If any of the entities you are restoring are particularly large, then do them separately. i.e. First restore the plugins, then do a separate restoration of the themes, then of uploads, etc. If you do this, then don’t be surprised to see various errors on your site in the intermediate stages, when only some things and not others have been restored. Wait until everything is restored before looking at them – and (this is important) – restore the database last. (And when you restore your plugins, we expect that your backup also had UpdraftPlus in it – but if it did not, then don’t be surprised if UpdraftPlus disappears immediately upon restoring plugins;  just install it again after doing so).

Restoring from scratch?

If you are restoring from scratch, and do not have the “More Files” add-on, then remember to set up any extra parameters in your wp-config.php file.


Posted in: Restoration