Post updated: 28th February 2023

No matter the size of your WordPress site, finding a way to keep it safe from issues such as 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.

In this article, we’ll show you how to back up a WordPress site with the free version of our easy-to-use backup plugin, UpdraftPlus.

UpdraftPlus enables you to back up your WordPress website and restore it within a few steps. It allows you to:

  • Backup all your WordPress files, databases, plugins, and themes
  • Set backup schedules every 2, 4, 8, or 12 hours, daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly
  • Email you a report of each backup
  • Restore backups directly from your WordPress dashboard
  • Store your backups remotely on Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and more.

What is a backup?

A ‘backup’ is a copy of the files and data on your website in case the originals are lost or damaged. Your WordPress backup can include all your pages, posts, comments, and more, everything stored in the database, as well as the plugins, your theme, and uploads (images, for instance), or you can select which parts to back up.

You can do this with a WordPress backup plugin, such as UpdraftPlus.

Why WordPress backups are essential

Taking regular backups is a crucial part of managing your WordPress website. Your site contains every piece of content you’ve ever created; if something were to go wrong, you would instantly lose it.

Without performing backups, your WordPress site could be at risk from the following problems:

Updates going wrong

WordPress websites need regular updates to the plugin files, your theme, and WordPress itself.

When performing these updates, there’s a slight chance your site could be negatively affected by the changes. You could lose functionality, your site’s look and feel could change, or the new update could be incompatible with an existing function.

However, these updates are essential and ensure your website’s security. They should ideally be done on a testing site first. To protect your site from updates going wrong, you should always carry out regular and automatic backups before each plugin update.

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
  • Spamming the internet with inappropriate links
  • Just for fun.

Hackers look for system flaws and exploit these to get around security controls. 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. You may have experienced your website ‘going down’ occasionally. This downtime (or server outage) can happen for various reasons, including viruses and cyber-hacking, traffic overload, hardware failure, and more.

While you can’t control your hosting company’s server, you can protect your site from a server outage. Your hosting company can usually recover your website. Still, the recovered version may be a few days old, and that may result in you losing important changes, such as sales records and new member registrations. One way to recover your site to a point you choose is by using your UpdraftPlus site backup.

How to back up 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 trusted WordPress backup and restore plugin and is simple and easy to set up.

How to install UpdraftPlus

There are two versions of UpdraftPlus, Free and Premium. UpdraftPlus Premium offers more backup locations, premium support, the ability to back up incrementally, and more.

To install, UpdraftPlus for free, follow these steps:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Type UpdraftPlus into the search bar.
  3. Find the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin, press Install Now, and then Activate.

How to take WordPress backups with UpdraftPlus

Once installed, UpdraftPlus makes it easy to set up your WordPress backups:

  1. Schedule your backups:
    1. Go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups in your WordPress menu; this will open your UpdraftPlus settings page.
    2. Select the Settings tab at the top.
      Then, choose whichever schedule suits you and your site. For example, a more frequent backup may be necessary 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.
  2. Select where you would like your backups to be stored.Scroll down the page to choose where UpdraftPlus will store your files. UpdraftPlus can integrate with numerous remote storage options, so pick the one that suits you best.With the free version of UpdraftPlus, you can store your backups on your server or on the following remote storage options:
    • Dropbox
    • Google Drive
    • Amazon S3 (or compatible)
    • Rackspace Cloud
    • DreamObjects
    • OpenStack Swift
    • FTP

You can also email your backup files to any email address. Be aware that mail servers tend to have size limits, typically between 10-20MB; backups larger than any limits are unlikely to arrive.

Another option is to store your WordPress backups on UpdraftVault, you get 1GB included with UpdraftPlus Premium, or you can purchase more space from $24/3 months.

UpdraftPlus Premium offers more WordPress backup options and the ability to backup to more than one location:

Once selected, each storage option has its own instructions. Follow these and press the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

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.

How to restore your WordPress site from a backup

Now that you regularly back up your site, you know you can recover and restore it if something goes wrong. So how do you restore your site with UpdraftPlus?

  1. Go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups in your WordPress menu; this will open your UpdraftPlus settings page.
  2. Scroll down the page until you reach the Existing Backups section. Find the backup you want to restore and press the blue Restore button.
  3. UpdraftPlus will show a popup asking which elements of your database you want to restore. Select those that apply and press Next.
  4. UpdraftPlus will retrieve (if necessary) and prepare the backup files. When successfully processed, press the Restore button to proceed.
  5. The restore operation will begin, showing the Activity Log. When your restore is successful, the “Return to UpdraftPlus configuration” button will appear; press this, and the process is complete.
  6. On your UpdraftPlus page, you may be greeted with a prompt that reads:
    Your backup has been restored. Your WordPress install has old directories from its state before you restored/migrated (technical information: these are suffixed with -old). You should press this button to delete them as soon as you have verified that the restoration worked.”.


Using a WordPress backup plugin is a must to keep your site safe from hacking, updates having gone wrong, and server crashes. As the world’s most trusted WordPress backup and restore plugin, UpdraftPlus allows you to do this for free.

By investing in UpdraftPlus Premium, you also get the following added features:

Get the best security for your website with UpdraftPlus Premium.