5 Simple Steps to Backup Your WordPress Site

My original title for this post was: The Most Important Thing You Can Do for a Successful Blog (But Probably Won’t).

Backups are ridiculously important and absurdly overlooked.

Admit it. You either:

  • Don’t know what backups are and why they’re important
  • Assume your web hosting company does backups for you
  • Know backups are important but haven’t ever backed up your WordPress site
  • Had configured backups long ago, but don’t know if they’re still running

I’d like to tell you “it’s OK, everyone forgets about backups”but it’s not OK.

Here’s the one-question test to determine if you need backups:

Would you be devastated to lose all the work you’ve put into your WordPress site or blog over the years?

If the answer to that question is yes, you need to take backups seriously.

You might think a disaster won’t y en to you, but it easily could. Servers crash, sites get hacked (even big ones), and developers make mistakes.

Don’t risk everything. Take 30 minutes today to setup some decent backups. I’ll show you how in this post.

What about the backups my hosting company makes? Aren’t those good enough?

Are you really sure that your hosting company makes regular backups of your site(s)? How often do they make them? How can they be restored? How long does a restoration take? Can you restore one site without restoring all sites in your account?

More importantly: do you want to leave the safety of your site solely in the hands of your hosting company?

Your hosting may or may not provide regular backups for your site. Even if they do, here’s why you shouldn’t rely on them:

  1. Hosting company backups aren’t specifically designed for WordPress. This means they may not actually help when you need them.
  2. The backups may not be regularly scheduled, and they may not be often enough to be useful in case of a disaster.
  3. You may not be able to restore a single site from hosting company backups without restoring all sites in your account.
  4. You won’t be notified if the backups fail, so you’ll never know if they’ll actually be there if/when you need them.
  5. You’ll be at the mercy of your hosting company if you ever need to restore from backup. They probably won’t be as responsive as you think they should be.

Bottom line: you should maintain your own set of backups using software specifically designed for WordPress. This will ensure you’re in control of when and how frequently backups occur, where they’re stored and how they can be backed up.

By maintaining your own backups, you’ll also gain the ability to migrate your site to a new host, or to load a version of it on another server for testing or development.

5 Simple Steps to Backup Your WordPress Site

I’ve tried half a dozen methods for backing up WordPress sites over the years. I’ve used manual scripts, free plugins, hosting company backups and more.

Everything I tried was either a pain to setup, a hassle to maintain, unreliable or difficult to restore from. None of the options I tried before allowed for easy migration for development/testing.

One plugin finally fixed all these problems. It’s called BackupBuddy, and it’s the simplest, most reliable and most cost-effective backup plugin for WordPress on the market.

I say “cost-effective” instead of cheapest because BackupBuddy isn’t free. There are tons of free backup plugins on the market, but free is meaningless if your backups are unreliable or un-restorable.

Your hard work and business are on the line here. Don’t cheap out and risk everything over trying to save $75. The link to BackupBuddy is an affiliate link because we’ve used BackupBuddy religiously for the past 18 months and we believe in it. BackupBuddy works, and we trust it with one of the most important functions of our business.

Now, here’s how to backup your site with BackupBuddy in 5 simple steps:

  1. Download and install BackupBuddy (install like any other WordPress plugin). You’ll also need to activate BackupBuddy (visit your plugins dashboard and follow the instructions).

  2. Configure BackupBuddy. Visit the settings page for BackupBuddy (in your WordPress dashboard), and do two things: first, choose a password for ImportBuddy (under “General Options,” this protects your backup files). Second, enter an email address where error notifications should be sent:

    BackupBuddy Settings 

  3. Set up offsite backups. You should send a copy of your backup files offsite, in case your server crashes or is otherwise inaccessible. BackupBuddy works with DropBox, Amazon S3, other services and something new called BackupBuddy Stash.

    BackupBuddy Stash is essentially free built-in secure offsite storage included with your BackupBuddy purchase.

    So choose Stash or whichever remote destination you like best. Click on “Remote Destinations” from the BackupBuddy menu and choose “add new destination.”

  4. Complete your first backup. Now you’re ready to run your first backup. Click “Backup” from the BackupBuddy menu and choose “Complete Backup.” Watch in the window as BackupBuddy backs everything up.

    Once BackupBuddy finishes, you could download the backup file (for safe keeping or to migrate your site somewhere else), send it to your remote destination, or you can just leave it on the server. I recommend sending it to your previously configured remote destination to verify that process works.

    Complete first backup 

  5. Schedule regular backups. Now comes the last and most important step. You should schedule regular backups. BackupBuddy recommends starting with “daily database-only and weekly full backups.” I prefer to schedule daily full backups. Weekly might be fine for you if you don’t change files on your server very often, or if you’re OK with potentially losing some changes during a restore.

    Schedule Backups

Restoring from backup with BackupBuddy is simple. You simply upload the backup file along with a special file called importbuddy.php to your server and verify some basic information.

As I said, there are other backup options out there including free plugins and server scripts. I don’t recommend trusting something so important to an unreliable plugin.

The folks from WordPress do have a service called VaultPress which may be worth trying. Plans start at $15. I don’t have any experience with VaultPress. If you’ve used it, please share your experience in the comments below.

Questions? Horror stories?

In the comments below, I’d love to hear any horror stories you’ve had with botched server backups. I’d also love to hear about any times where backups have saved your bacon.

We’re also happy to answer any questions you have.

Above all, don’t put this off. Set aside time to implement a backup safety net today. It only takes a few minutes, and could literally save your business one day.

Happy backing up!

If you decide to give BackupBuddy a try, tell us below how well it worked out for you. If you use some other solution, we’d love to hear about that as well.

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  • http://itarsenal.com Rob

    Glad to see this quick hit post. I wish I wrote it for you Corbett! I’ve been using this plugin since the early days, it’s well supported, matured, and works very well, even for large sites.

    I have both save the bacon and horror stories as I work with backups weekly with several different people, I love making sure this stuff is all in order.

    Most recently, the site http://griefcoachingcertification.com/ went down and I needed to pull some content out of the .zip file that our backups create to resolve it.

    As a quick word of warning, check in on BackupBuddy from time to time, if you’re using shared hosting, there are times when BackupBuddy doesn’t have enough memory to do it’s thing, and fails!

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Thanks for the tips and perspective Rob! If anyone appreciates backups, it’s someone like yourself who is called in to pick up the pieces after a site crashes. Glad to hear you approve of BackupBuddy as well.

    • http://corymiller.com Cory Miller

      Rob, thanks for the honest feedback on BackupBuddy.

      Re: the memory warning … the tough terrain of shared hosting is one of the toughest challenges we have … an impossible number of shared hosts, with infinitely different setups and requirements and conditions but we work hard to fix problems on our end and with those hosts who will work with us (not always the case).

  • http://linkinguplocal.com Charles

    Just in time, I’m currently doing a site for a company with Woo commerce installed. Their a 1.9 million a year company, so I want to have as many backups as possible.

    I’m going to use both the sites you mention.

    Does backup buddy have a way to
    Store the backup in two places?

    Thanks for the post.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Using the remote destinations feature, you can have backup files sent to multiple offsite locations, just to be safe :)

    • http://corymiller.com Cory Miller

      Charles, like Corbett said, you can put in many different offsite locations from Amazon S3 to our own remote storage BackupBuddy Stash that offers 1GB of free space now to Rackspace Cloud etc.

  • http://www.Supplement-Geek.com Joe

    Corbett, I’ve heard that Backup Buddy wont back up very large sites/databases. is this true? Is there a limit? Can you shed some light on this?

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Backup files for Think Traffic currently weigh in around 200mb. BackupBuddy runs smoothly almost every day here. We have 457 published posts and 19k comments. We don’t use a lot of images though, so I imagine some sites are much, much bigger.

      I’ll see if one of the guys from BackupBuddy can chime in on larger site issues. I’m guessing it depends on your server resources. Shared hosting environments might be a problem with especially large sites (although you probably should move away from shared hosting if your site is that large anyway).

    • http://corymiller.com Cory Miller

      It’s not so much the size of the backup that’s an issue, but the server itself as Corbett mentioned.  

      BackupBuddy doesn’t have limits in it to prevent that, but it does have to run under the constraints of the host’s server. If the host’s server is slow or overloaded (which can happen with shared hosting a LOT) then it may not be able to create the backup fast enough before the server’s max PHP runtime, which if host has this set too low can also make it harder to create a backup in time because it is having to create a backup of the entire site and thus cuts off the process.

      The bigger the site and the “less than good” the server is the harder time it can with creating a backup but there tweaks and tricks that can be done to help it still complete. Especially if just wanting to migrate off of the current host (presumably to a better one).

      And the state of shared hosting is pretty pathetic and cutthroat.

      But from our side … we have 3+ full-time support personnel ready to help you given enough time and details with all of this and work hard to remedy situations on our support forum.

      We weren’t the first to offer a backup plugin for WP …. BUT we were the first we believe to offer the COMPLETE solution … allowing you to backup AND restore AND move WordPress 3 years ago this month in fact.

      We’re not a fly by night company … or someone without the resources to keep making a great product and support it along the way. Our company is 5 years old this year … with 20+ professionals working to “make people’s lives awesome” while doing work we love on a platform that’s near to our heart. :)

      Hope this helps!

  • http://allbloggingtips.com Ammar Ali

    Excellent Work, You wrote a great post indeed.

    Backupbuddy is really a good plugin to backup WP blog.. Not only this if we want to move to new host backupbuddy can do good job.

    Thanks for the coupon. I might buy this plugin in upcoming days.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Cheers Ammar.

  • http://www.wpstuffs.com Vivek R

    Backupbuddy is one of the best WordPress plugin which I think every bloggers who is serious about his blog should use it.I use it in all of my blog and doing good job till now.

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Glad you agree, thanks for sharing Vivek.

  • http://marketingbeforefunding.com Mike Abasov

    Lots of promotions in my inbox in the last few days. Fizzle, Backup pluggins…

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Sorry if you were bothered by them Mike! These two were spaced a little closer than we like. But yes, we do send promotions once in a while. It’s how we earn a living (and hopefully deliver value at the same time) :)

    • http://marketingbeforefunding.com Mike Abasov

      Oh, I’m fine with you promoting products. I’m a fizzler myself.
      Just the last two were a little jammed together.

    • admin

      Cool, thanks for the feedback, always appreciated.

  • http://www.bikeGPSreview.com Andrew Montgomery


    You are a very clever man indeed. I already thought it but now I know it.

    Thousands of SPI readers looking for a solution for exactly this problem and you provide it.

    The timing and selection of the post topic is a stronger learning point than the explicit ones you mention in the post (though obviously I’ll be acting on the backing up recommendations as well).

    Nicely done sir. Keep up the good work.

    All the best,

    • http://fizzle.co Corbett Barr

      Purely coincidental Andrew, we had been planning this post for quite some time. Pat is a good friend and we were very bummed to hear about his server issues. It is an important lesson for people to hear though.

  • http://youronline.biz Darnell Jackson

    Yeah i spent like 10 hours trying to get my wp to back up automatically to drop box using some bull crap code I found.

    If a plugin can do that for me I’m interested.

    The developer option would be the best choice in my opinion based on the price.

    Backup all your sites plus customers? come on man.

    When I’m ready to buy I’m using your link.


    • http://corymiller.com Cory Miller

      Darnell, although we offer Dropbox as a remote storage option, it’s not the most stable site backup solution. Amazon S3 or our own BackupBuddy Stash (which offers 1GB of free storage now) are way better and more stable solutions. They are also extremely affordable.

  • http://outtathebox.tv/ John Whiting

    Thanks for the advice Corbett. I know I have a backup plugin but I don’t take it seriously. However, If I lost all of my work I’d be devastated. I think it’s time to get more serious on the backups!

  • http://getbusylivingblog.com Benny

    Thanks Corbett for the tip on scheduling. I’ve had this plugin for over a year now. Thankfully haven’t had to restore, but it’s good to have a backup. Was doing it manually but just now set it up on a schedule.

  • http://www.Supplement-Geek.com Joe

    Cory, thanks I appreciate you giving me all that great information! :)

  • http://www.likoma.com Bradley Charbonneau

    I’ll chime in on BackupBuddy as it’s all I use (on hundreds of sites). It’s really all you need: backup locally and remotely both for best results. Looking for horror stories, here’s one that will make you get your site backed up: Sorry, your website is gone.”

    But one not-so-talked-about feature of BackupBuddy is the migrate function. It uses the backup and restore functions to move a site. I moved a complete site from one host to another in about 10 minutes the other day. No SQL downloading and uploading, no time outs (with WP import/export), no FTP (other than filling in the FTP login info at the new host). It’s almost point and click. Just the migrate function makes it worth it.

  • http://richmiraclefiles.blogspot.in/ MONA

    Hi Corbett,
    You have certainly shed some light on cresting backup;something that most folks like me overlook initailly.But tell me,is Backup Buddy the only tool available for creating safe back up?Or is it because we’re talking about WordPress alone thet we’re restricting ourselves to this brand?.Im sure there are many other backup techs available as well.
    Any light on them?

    • admin

      Hi Mona, as I mentioned above:

      “…there are other backup options out there including free plugins and server scripts. I don’t recommend trusting something so important to an unreliable plugin.”

      To find other potential plugins, search the WordPress plugins directory using the word “backup.”

  • Tom Ross

    Been putting off buying this plugin for ages, finally grabbed it yesterday (through your link). Cheers for the much needed reminder Corbett!

  • bertG

    cPanel is used in, I dare estimate, 9 out of 10 hosts out there. It’s never failed me even when switching hosts.

    One can make a complete 1-click backup that can be restored to any other host that uses cPanel. That’s called a complete backup. One can also just backup a certain directory or just a MySQL database.

  • http://capturehisheartreview.net Jennifer

    Great post Corbett,

    Backing up data is so important and underrated. I know that there have been times where my website has gone down and I lost all of the articles I created for the site. Just taking a simple action such as backing up your data will prevent that from happening.

  • http://bigideasuccess.org Andre

    Thanks Corbett!

    I have lost one of my sites once and since then I`m taking this topic very seriously. However I haven`t found very good solution for WordPress. BackupBuddy looks really good…

  • http://www.latestcrunchs.com Mizan

    Hi Corbett,
    That’s what i was searching for.I agree with you, in WordPress sites file backup facility are not that much easy like others.Other free plugins are not reliable.Your writing is so much helpful & glad to hear that we can save 33% of cost while using a best backup.

  • http://wassup2day.com Annie

    Recently my whole website was lost as someone hacked into it and deleted all my accounts. I really needed this plugin. Thanks for posting it.

  • http://viajerosvagabundos.com/ José M. Wong

    One of those situations you know it happens, but for some reason you believe it will never happen to you. I just found out a couple of friends were hacked in the last couple of weeks twice and they are struggling getting their stuff back.

    Even though our blog is not that large yet, I just can’t imagine if I loose my files, specially pictures.

    Buying BB RFN!

  • http://www.MPMacDougall.com MP MacDougall

    Thanks for the post, and the discount! This is one of those progress log items that I’ve been meaning to get to, but kept putting off for lack of clear understanding.
    Now, it’s done, and I have one less thing to worry about.
    Thanks for that!

  • http://www.ksrrider.com/ Noppon

    Thank Corbett,

    I write a blog 3 years never had backup my site, its sound terrible (I think so) now I just go to backup my site every month.

  • http://steadyrank.com Jeff Goodwin

    Thanks for posting this article! I’m getting ready to research different backup solutions and I’ll definitely look at these two you mentioned!

  • http://mytechdiet.com Rahul

    Thanks for this post . I must have read it before. Few Weeks ago my whole website was hacked by someone or it was some developer’s mistake. I don’t know but when I tried to log in it was plain. But this time I will be more careful. All Thanks to you and your tutorial :)

  • http://www.lowd.ca/ Derrick Barber

    Off topic: You want to know something cool? I was actually excited to see this article from you when I did a Google search. I’m not yet familiar with your content, but I heard of you through the SPI podcast, and I guess just hearing you on that built a level of trust with me, that I picked your article out in a Google search before trying any of the other articles.

    On topic: I totally trust your recommendation, but the price tag is too steep for me at this point in time. I bet I’ll end up back here to purchase BackupBuddy, but I gotta do some research to see if I can find something for free/cheap that will do a decent job, for the time being anyways. I’ll let you know if I find anything worth knowing about.

  • http://itarsenal.com Rob

    Hey Derrick,

    You might want to saunter over to my website, I can help you out with the plugin and support you in getting it setup correctly! I do tech support for online business builders and freakin love it, glad to chat more about any questions you have as you work on your business!

  • http://wow-facts.com Ashish

    This is a great post and must read post for every blogger. Many times, without any reason we loose a lot of data. Few days back, a fake plugin affected some of my posts. I should have read this post earlier and should have made the backup. Anyways, thanks for this great post.

  • http://Daralinewitherspoon.com Daraline

    I use blogger for my blog. Is there a way I can back that up. And I really want to know how to back a whole website. Any tips. Thanks. By the way your post was really enilightening. Thanks for sharing it.

  • EdwinJeremiah

    I use BackWPup a free WordPress backup plugin.

  • Cassandra Anderton

    Does your site work while Backupbuddy is working?

    • Corbett Barr

      Yes, your site will still be accessible while BackupBuddy is operating.

  • azrijohan

    i cannot login to my wordpress, can i do a full backup just by using FTP Account and Cpanel only? Thank you

  • Davina Choy

    Thank you so much for this! I used the coupon code hw33 and got 33% off at checkout. Of course, I used the affiliate link here at Fizzle. Corbett, this post saved me a ton of research!

    • Corbett Barr

      Glad to hear it Davina, cheers!

  • Debra Conrad

    I use BackupBuddy on several of my websites. Why? My previous hosting company didn’t have a backup of any of my websites, and the server crashed. I trusted them and they failed. Now that I use BackupBuddy AND I also have a backup saved in the cloud – I feel that my sites can be restored quickly in the event of disaster.

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