Post updated: 22nd August 2023
Welcome to our step-by-step guide on backing up your WordPress site. In this article, we will explore three different ways to backup your WordPress site, including using a WordPress backup plugin like UpdraftPlus, manual backups, and backups through your web host. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of the importance of regular backups and how to implement them effectively.
No matter the size of your WordPress site, finding a way to keep it safe from issues like updates going wrong, hacking, user error, and server crashes should be of the utmost importance. If you’ve not yet set up regular backups of your website, now’s the time to do it.
You can jump ahead to the different sections of this article by clicking the links below:
3 ways to backup your WordPress site
1. Use a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus
One of the easiest and most reliable ways to backup your WordPress site is by using a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus. With UpdraftPlus, you can automate the backup process and schedule regular backups so you can set and forget.
UpdraftPlus enables you to create WordPress Backups and restore your site in just a few clicks. It allows you to:
- Backup your WordPress databases, files, plugins, and themes
- Set backup schedules every 2, 4, 8, or 12 hours, daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly
- Receive an emailed report after each backup
- Restore backups directly from your WordPress dashboard
- Store your backups remotely on Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and more
2. Manually backup your website
Manually backing up your WordPress site involves downloading and storing the site’s files and database on your local computer or cloud storage. While this method gives you more control over the backup process, it can be time-consuming and prone to human error. However, if you prefer a hands-on approach or have a small website with minimal data, this method might be suitable for you.
3. Backup your site with your web host
Some web hosts offer built-in backup solutions that allow you to backup your WordPress website directly through their control panel or dashboard. While this method can be convenient, it’s important to note that web host backups may not always be reliable or easily accessible. Additionally, relying solely on your web host for backups can limit your options if you decide to switch hosting providers in the future.
Before we show you how to backup your WordPress site, let’s learn a bit more about what backups are and why it’s important to backup your WordPress website in the first place.
What is a WordPress backup?
A WordPress ‘backup’ is a point-in-time copy of your WordPress website that can be restored if issues arise.
It serves as a safety net in case of accidental data loss, website hacking, server failures, or other unforeseen events. If you backup your WordPress database, files, themes and plugins you are protecting your site from potential loss or damage.
Why WordPress backups are essential
Regularly backing up your WordPress website is not only best practice, it’s also a critical aspect of effective website management.
Without a reliable backup system in place, you risk losing all your hard work, which can have devastating consequences for your online presence, brand reputation, user experience, and search engine rankings.
WordPress backups provide peace of mind, allowing you to update and make changes confidently, knowing that you can easily revert to a backup if needed.
Without performing backups, your WordPress site could be at risk from the following problems:
Updates or installation errors
WordPress websites are sometimes automatically updated as new versions of plugins, themes and WordPress core are released.
When performing these updates, there’s a slight chance your site could be negatively affected. You could lose functionality, your site’s look and feel could change, or the new update could be incompatible with an existing function.
To protect your site, you should carry out regular backups. If you choose to backup your site using a WordPress plugin, look out for one that performs automatic backups before updates, like UpdraftPlus Premium.
Your site is vulnerable to hacking
WordPress is popular, with 43% of all websites using the platform, making it a target for hackers and spammers.
You may feel your site is safe, perhaps because you’re a small business or your site doesn’t hold sensitive information. Still, hacks can and do happen for any of the following reasons:
- To spread malware
- Using your site to attack another site
- To spam the Internet with inappropriate links
- Just for fun
Hackers look for system flaws and exploit them. If you have weak passwords, don’t update plugins regularly, or have poor security, your site could be at risk.
By backing up your WordPress site regularly, you can restore your website to its former, pre-broken state before the hack.
Your website host may have server outages
No hosting company is perfect, and occasional website downtime or server outages can occur due to various reasons like viruses, cyber-hacking, traffic overload, or hardware failure.
In the event of a server outage, your hosting company can usually restore your website, but the recovered version might be several days old, potentially causing the loss of critical updates like sales records and new member registrations.
With UpdraftPlus, you can choose how often to backup and recover your site to a specific point in time that you choose.
The UpdraftPlus WordPress backup plugin allows you to backup to a wide array of remote storage locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive, ensuring the safety and accessibility of your backups. With UpdraftPlus you can regain control and recover your site to the desired state, minimizing any potential data loss or setbacks caused by server outages.
How to backup your WordPress site with UpdraftPlus
A WordPress backup plugin is the easiest and quickest way to back up your website. UpdraftPlus is the world’s most popular WordPress backup and restore plugin with more than 3 million active installs.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to backup your WordPress site using UpdraftPlus:
1. Install UpdraftPlus
To get started, install the UpdraftPlus plugin on your WordPress site. You can do this by following these simple steps:
- Log in to your WordPress account..
- Navigate to Plugins and click on Add New.
- Search for “UpdraftPlus” in the plugin search bar.
- Click on Install Now next to the UpdraftPlus plugin.
- Click Activate to enable the plugin.
2. Choose a secure storage location
Once UpdraftPlus is activated, navigate to UpdraftPlus by clicking on Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups then select the Settings tab.
From here, you can choose a secure remote storage location. This ensures that your backups are stored safely outside of your WordPress site.
The following are available in the free version:
- Google Drive
- Amazon S3 (or compatible)
- Rackspace Cloud
- OpenStack Swift
Or choose UpdraftPlus Premium and backup to one of the following or more than one location:
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud
Once selected, each storage option has its own instructions. Follow these and press the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.
3. Set up backup reports
- In the Settings tab, scroll down to the Email section. Check the box that says Check this box to have a basic report sent to your site’s admin address.
UpdraftPlus Premium adds a wealth of information to your backup reports. It lists errors, so you don’t need to search through log files, it includes cryptographic checksums so you can verify the integrity of the backed-up files and more. You can also send reports to multiple email addresses or to the syslog.
4. Create and schedule your WordPress backups
- At the top of the Settings tab, choose how often you want to back up from a minimum of every 2 hours, to a maximum of every month. You can schedule backups for exact times with our add-on.
Choose a more frequent backup frequency if you regularly update your site with new pages and posts.
You can also adjust how many backups are stored at any one time. New backups can then override the old ones.
With your storage location and how often you’d like to back up your site set up, UpdraftPlus will automatically carry out your first site backup.
It’s that simple! For more information you can watch our video tutorial showing how to backup your site using UpdraftPlus in 1 minute!
How to backup your WordPress site manually
While using a plugin like UpdraftPlus is recommended for most users, some individuals may prefer to manually backup their WordPress website.
Follow these steps to manually backup your WordPress site:
- Access your WordPress site’s files using FTP or a file manager in your hosting control panel.
- Download all the files and folders in your WordPress installation directory to your local computer or cloud storage.
- Export your WordPress database using a tool like phpMyAdmin or a database management interface provided by your hosting provider.
- Save the exported database file to a secure location along with your site’s files.
Here are some pros and cons of manually backing up your website:
- Full control: Manually backing up your WordPress site gives you complete control over the backup process.
- No reliance on plugins: Some users prefer to minimize the number of plugins on their website.
- Time-consuming: Manually backing up your website can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large site with a lot of data.
- Prone to human error: The manual backup process relies on human execution, making it more susceptible to mistakes or oversights that could result in incomplete or faulty backups.
- Lack of automation: Manual backups require you to remember to perform them regularly, increasing the risk of forgetting or skipping backups.
How to backup your WordPress site with your web host
Some web hosts offer built-in backup solutions that allow you to backup your WordPress site directly through their control panel or dashboard.
Here are the steps you can follow if you choose this backup method:
- Access your web hosting control panel: Log in to your web hosting account and navigate to the control panel provided by your host.
- Locate the backup or backup/restore option: The exact location and name of this option may vary depending on your web hosting provider. Look for a section related to backups, backup tools, or backup/restore functionality.
- Initiate a backup: Within the backup section, select the option to create a backup of your website. This action will typically generate a complete backup of your site’s files and database.
- Choose a backup destination: Some web hosts provide options to store the backup directly on their servers or offer remote storage locations like FTP or cloud storage services. Select the desired backup destination that suits your needs.
- Confirm and initiate the backup process: Review the backup settings and options, ensuring they meet your requirements. Once you’re ready, click the backup or ‘create backup’ button to initiate the process.
- Wait for the backup to complete: The backup process may take some time, depending on the size of your website and the server resources. It’s important to wait patiently until the backup process finishes.
- Verify the backup: After the backup is completed, it’s recommended to verify its integrity. Some web hosting control panels may offer a verification option or provide checksums to compare against the backup file.
Remember that the specific steps and options may vary based on your web hosting provider and the control panel they use. Consult your hosting provider’s documentation or support resources for precise instructions tailored to your hosting environment.
Here are some pros and cons to backing up your site using your web host:
- Relatively simple: Web host backups are often designed to be user-friendly, making it relatively easy for website owners to initiate backups.
- Direct server access: As backups are created within the web host’s infrastructure, they can potentially capture the entire website including server settings.
- Limited backup options: Web host backups may have limitations in terms of available storage space, frequency of backups, or retention periods. These limitations may not meet the specific backup needs of all website owners.
- Lack of portability: Backups created by web hosts are typically tied to their infrastructure, which can make it challenging to migrate your backups to another hosting provider or server.
- Dependency on hosting provider: Relying solely on web host backups means entrusting your backups to the hosting provider. If the hosting provider experiences any issues or server failures, it could affect the availability or quality of your backups.
How often should I do a WordPress backup?
The frequency of WordPress backups depends on many factors.The more critical your content and the more frequently your site changes, the more frequent your backups should be. It’s also beneficial to align your backup frequency with any major updates, like WordPress core updates or plugin/theme updates or look for a plugin like UpdraftPlus Premium which offers automatic backups before updates.
How to restore your WordPress site from a backup
With UpdraftPlus, restoring your WordPress site from a backup only takes a couple of clicks..
How do I backup my WordPress site for free?
You can backup your WordPress site for free using a plugin like UpdraftPlus, or by manually backing up your site. Manually backing up your WordPress site involves downloading and storing the site’s files and database on your local computer or cloud storage. This method is free, but requires more time and effort. An easier method would be to use the free version of UpdraftPlus. It allows you to perform complete backups of your website’s files and database right from your WordPress dashboard.
How to backup WordPress without FTP access?
If you don’t have FTP access, you can still backup your WordPress site using plugins.. UpdraftPlus enables you to backup your site directly from within the WordPress dashboard, eliminating the need for FTP access. By installing and configuring UpdraftPlus, you can perform backups and store them in remote storage locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or other compatible services. The backup process can be initiated and managed through the UpdraftPlus settings in your WordPress admin area.
What is the best way to backup a WordPress site?
One of the best ways to backup a WordPress site is by using a backup plugin. It’s faster, more reliable and less prone to error than other methods.
How do I backup my WordPress site to my desktop?
You can store backups locally on your server with UpdraftPlus. Once your backup is complete, you can access the backup files on your server and download them to your desktop. Alternatively, you could choose to manually backup your WordPress site by downloading the site’s files and database to your local computer. You can also use FTP or a file manager in your web hosting control panel to access and download the files to your desktop.
Can I download my WordPress site?
Yes, you can download your WordPress site using a backup plugin, or by manually backing up and downloading your website.
How to backup a large WordPress website?
Backing up a large WordPress website requires a backup solution that can handle the size and complexity of the site.
UpdraftPlus optimizes backup performance and can handle large amounts of data. You can also purchase additional storage on UpdraftVault which allows you to backup incremental changes made since the last full backup to reduce server resources and save you time.
Some web hosts provide backup solutions specifically designed for larger websites. Check with your web hosting provider for available options and recommendations tailored to the size of your site.
Where are my WordPress backups stored?
The storage location of your WordPress backups depends on the backup method you choose. Backup plugins like UpdraftPlus allow you to store backups in remote storage locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or other compatible cloud storage services.
When manually backing up, you can store them locally on your server,download them to your local computer or upload to cloud storage.
How long does it take to backup a WordPress site?
The time it takes to backup a WordPress site depends on various factors, including the size of your website, server resources, backup method, and the efficiency of the backup solution.
Smaller websites may take a few minutes to complete the backup process, while larger websites with extensive content and databases may require more time. It’s important to allocate sufficient server resources and choose a backup solution that offers optimized backup performance for efficient and timely backups.
Can backups be automated?
Yes, and we believe backups should be automated wherever possible to ensure you always have a recent backup to revert to in an emergency. Backup plugins like UpdraftPlus offer scheduling options, allowing you to automate the backup process. You can set up regular backup intervals, such as daily or weekly, to ensure your website is backed up automatically. Some web hosts also provide automated backup functionality within their control panels. You can configure backup schedules and retention periods to automate the backup process using your web host’s backup tools.
In conclusion, backing up your WordPress site is a crucial aspect of effective website management and safeguarding your online presence. In this guide we’ve explored three different methods for creating backups: using the UpdraftPlus plugin, performing manual backups, and utilizing your web host’s built-in backup solutions.
Among these options, the UpdraftPlus plugin stands out as a user-friendly and efficient tool that allows you to automate and schedule regular backups and store your data securely on various remote storage locations.