You need to backup your site. You heard this before, time and again, so many times that it sounds like a mindless motto. And yet, do you have a recent backup of your site right now ?
If so, then congratulations. Make sure you keep making new ones on a regular basis and keep at least two or three copies stored in different places and on different media.
If not, make one.
I know I should make a backup, I’ll do it someday when I find the time.
Making a backup of your site doesn’t have to take longer than reading this. You could setup automated scheduled backups in a couple of minutes.
Stop even thinking about it and take these two minutes right now.
If anything happens to your site and you have no backup, it will take a lot more than two minutes to rebuilt it.
This is just a not-so-important personal blog, it is not worth the hassle.
No matter how unimportant your micro-side-project blog is, you did spend time working on it, and you will be upset if it just goes away.
Even if all you put in it was just a couple of hours to kill time on a rainy sunday, it is still worth spending a few clicks to back it up and prevent this work from going into oblivion when something hits it.
I don’t have enough storage to spare for back ups.
This one can’t even be serious. A typical WordPress website is usually less than 100Mb.
A complete backup of iceablethemes.com (a 3 year old WordPress based e-commerce store + blog + forums, with all the files and data this involves) is just around 300Mb once zipped.
I could list a dozen cloud-based storage services that give you anywhere from 1Gb (that’s 1’000Mb) to 50Gb (50’000Mb) with a free plan.
If you like keeping things in your hands, you can get a 2Tb (that’s 2’000Gb or 2’000’000Mb) USB3 hard drive from a reputable brand that fits in your pocket for less than $100 on amazon.
I don’t have money to spend on this.
You already pay for hosting, domain name, maybe a premium theme and a few premium plugins, I hear that.
This would be a fair point if all backup solutions were paid, even though some premium backup services are really affordable.
However there are free options. They are not necessarily more complicated or time consuming and they do the job already.
My hosting provider has several layers of redundancy, my data is safe!
Any solid hosting provider does have several layers of redundancy to prevent data loss, making your data safe in case the server hard drive fails or catches fire.
This isn’t an excuse for not making your own backup though.
Just because your host has some form of backup to prevent data loss in case of hardware failure on their end doesn’t mean they can or will help recover your site if it gets broken for another reason.
Why you need to backup your WordPress site
You could need a backup to restore your site today. Many bad things can hit your site and you can lose everything there is on it in a heartbeat.
It will happen to you, it is not a matter of “if”, but “when”.
File or database corruption happens all the time
It can be caused by an unexpected glitch during a file transfer when you install an update or a new theme or plugin, or even just overnight for no apparent reason.
When your site is broken as a result, it is too late.
By the way, you should always update everything on your site to the latest versions, but always back up your site before any update.
What if you inadvertently break something yourself ?
Everyone makes mistakes. One day you might just delete a post by mistake. Or you fiddle with some settings and when you realize it wasn’t such a good idea you just can’t get them back to what they used to be. Or you try a new plugin and it goes crazy and wreak havoc on your entire site.
Your site will get hacked
You can – and should – take some precautions to secure your site and protect it against hackers. However there is no such thing as 100% bullet-proof security and WordPress – by far the most used CMS in the world – is a prime target for a very broad range of attacks.
Think no one would waste time hacking your modest little website ? Think again: a brute-force bot is probably trying to login to your site right now. They do so for each and every WordPress site they find while crawling the web, they never get tired, and one day or another they’ll succeed.
If you think I’m just exaggerating this part to make it sound more dramatic, then go ahead and install a security monitoring plugin like Sucuri or Wordfence (back up your site before installing a new plugin!) and get ready to be amazed at the “failed login attempts” log you’ll find tomorrow.
These are just a few of many bad things that can, and will happen to your site someday.
In some other cases you could salvage some of your data and repair your site within a few hours or days.
And in other cases all that remains of your website is a metaphoric digital pile of dust.
If you have a recent backup of your site available however, it doesn’t matter.
You can just restore your site from the backup and within minutes your site is up and running all fine again, as it was before everything went wrong, just as if nothing happened.
How to backup a WordPress site
Hopefully you are now convinced that you absolutely need to backup your site today.
So where do you start ?
Below is a non-exhaustive selection of free and paid plugins and services to make and automate scheduled backups of your WordPress site:
VaultPress, founded by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg is a subscription based automatic backup and storage service with various plans starting at just $5/month or $55/year up to $29/month or $299/year for many more features. It takes a few clicks to setup, and just as much to restore your site from a backup.
BackupBuddy is another very popular premium backup solution. With a few clicks, you can schedule automatic backups and store them on their cloud service or on your own cloud storage space or even email them to yourself. Pricing varies from $80/year up to $297 once for unlimited use.
BackUpWordPress is a free plugin to schedule automatic full backups. The free version only creates the backups on your own server, so you should download them to store them safely somewhere else. To have it store your backups automatically on FTP, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3 or other services, you can buy an add-on. Add-ons are available for each service for $24/year, or you can get the whole bundle for $99/year.
BackWPup Free allows you to easily schedule automatic full backup of your website and store them to a choice of cloud services, and to easily restore them when you need to. The BackWPup Pro version starts at $75 for one domain with one year of pro support and updates and offers the additional support of Google Drive and Amazon Glacier, along with some more premium features.
UpdraftPlus is also free and allows to make complete backups, schedule them and store them to various locations you can choose from. It sports some excellent ranking and ratings from the community on WordPress.org. The paid, premium version comes with additional features, pro support and dedicated storage space, from $70/year.
Doing your WordPress backups yourself
Doing your own backup is also an option, which doesn’t take that much longer and will please those who prefer to see how things work and have more control over how things are done.
This is a bit more advanced, so if the terms FTP and PhpMyAdmin make you cringe, using a plugin is probably a better option!
A small custom made script can also automate the whole process and have it run on schedule – making this a DIY set-and-forget solution!
In a nutshell it boils down to downloading all of your files via FTP, and export your database from PhpMyAdmin. Restoring from such a backup is as simple as doing the same thing the other way.
More details will make for another post.
Do it now
Please don’t just bookmark this page with the well-intentioned plan of doing this later.
Pick one option, backup your WordPress site(s) right now, and spread the word if you know anyone who runs a WordPress website and might not be making backups yet!