5 Simple Steps to Backup Your WordPress Site

Written by Corbett Barr

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?

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, let us know 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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