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How to backup your WordPress site

Things happen in life. Recently I tripped on the steps and sprained my ankle. Didn’t think it was that serious, and it isn’t really, but after some days of down tuning and a visit at the doctor, I realized that I will not go back to ‘normal’ as quickly as I would like.

Basically, nothing is more certain than change, right? And that’s why we need to take life one step at a time, even if it trips you up. Same thing with your website. It could start to malfunction, because of a security breach and because you never updated WordPress. Some outdated plugin might not work with an update of the other systems in place and create havoc.

The worst feeling after such an event is to have to say, oh, that could have been prevented or I should have done something to guarantee that the website can be restored.

So, here’s the big question: Do you have a backup of your website? Where is it? How do you regain your online presence if it goes down? Which is the last version that is saved somewhere?

Backing up your WordPress website

What needs to be backed up?
Both the core files of your website as well as the database need to be backed up, because one without the other is useless. The database contains all the dynamic content, such as data of all the registered users, blog posts, and comments.

How often?
Depending on the importance to you and your business, this can vary between once a day or once a month. You should ask yourself how often you publish new content, how many visitors you have daily, and if your website is a direct or indirect source of income. How long can you afford to be offline?

Where should the backups be stored?
Evidently, they should not be kept in the same place as your current website files, because if that server for some reason goes up in smoke, so does your backup. Keep backups in at least two places, such as on the server and in a second place, be that an external hard drive, a dropbox folder or some other cloud service.

How to tackle it

  • Many hosting services provide an easy way to store both a backup of your files as well as the database, any time you like. The service I used, Cyon (German only), has what they call a ‘script center’ and a software called ‘Installatron’ where you can create and download backups with a simple click. Be sure to delete the old ones as this will eat up space on the server and eventually force you to upgrade your hosting plan. You can also schedule backups and even designate other places for the backup to go.
    Call your hosting service and find out if you have a option for (automated) backups.
  • If you prefer to have automated backups work right out of the admin panel of your WordPress website, then you can use a plugin. You need to consider that such a thing can take some time to install, as you will have to double check that the whole process is working properly.
    Plugins of choice include
    … Vaultpress from the very makers of WordPress (recurring fee, lowest plan is around 5$/month per site) and
    … Backup buddy (80$/year for 2 sites including storage space).
    … WordPress Backup to Dropbox  is another one, but because dropbox usually synchronizes with your local computer if not otherwise set up, this can slow it down considerably depending on the size of your website content. If you don’t want your backups to synchronize with your computer and keep them in the dropbox cloud only, see this information on selective synchronization.

Backup your WordPress website

For DIYers – What to consider when choosing a paid service

  • How easy is the setup up?
  • Are automated restores possible?
  • Where can I get support if I need to restore?
  • How long are backups kept, how much storage space is there?
  • How many websites can I back up?

What to do if you are avoiding this topic all together
Oh no. Looks like you are in trouble. Just call up your web designer and tell her/him to set it all up for you. It’s a one-time investment and is usually done within an hour. That’s a no-brainer and just might save you from tripping up.

 

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