How to Back Up a WordPress Website: The Ultimate Guide

Backing up your WordPress website should be at the top of your list as a website owner, and that’s because hardware and system failure, theft, malware, and human error can happen to anyone, no matter what kind of website you own.

If your website crashes and you don’t own a recent backup, it will cost you more than a headache to recover, not to mention the traffic you will lose while getting your website back up. However, with a proper backup of your WordPress website, you can restore things back to normal quickly.

We recently shared the ultimate guide to backing up your website, including:

  • cPanel backups
  • FTP backups
  • Cloud backups

Today we want to go into more detail on how to back up a WordPress website. WordPress is more popular than ever and that’s because it’s free and easy to use. What more could you want in a Content Management System? Today we’re going to talk about the two ways to back up your WordPress website: the manual way and the automatic way.

 

How to Back Up a WordPress Website: Manual Solution

Note: Backing up your WordPress website manually will take some technical expertise. If you’re not comfortable working with files in the backend of your website, skip to the “Automated Solution” below.

There are two parts to a WordPress website backup: your files and your databases. You need to back up both in order to restore your full website.

 

WordPress Files

Your WordPress files consist of:

  • WordPress installation
  • WordPress plugins
  • WordPress themes
  • Images and files
  • JavaScript and PHP scripts
  • Additional files and static web pages

These elements combined create the look of your website and they need to be saved. Here’s what you can use to back up your site’s WordPress files:

  1. Using FTP (File Transfer Protocol): Using an FTP client like FileZilla or Cyberduck, copy and compress your website files to a folder on your desktop.
  2. Your Control Panel: log in to your control panel and access your files to download them onto your desktop.

Access your WordPress files through your control panel.

 

Here’s what you need to download to back up your site’s WordPress files:

  1. The entire “wp-content” folder off your server. This folder will contain all of the critical files mentioned above that make up your website (themes, plugins, media files, etc.)
  2. The .htaccess file, robots.txt, and wp-config.php files which you can find in your root directory (which is usually called public_html). These files make up the configuration settings for your website.

 

WordPress Database

Your WordPress database is comprised of blog posts and a lot of the data generated on your site. Make sure to back up your database regularly, especially before an upgrade or after any updates or additions to your site.

Your database can be backed up using phpMyAdmin in your website control panel, such as cPanel or Plesk

 

cPanel/Plesk

  1. Log in to cPanel.
  2. Look for the section called “Databases.”
  3. Click on “phpMyAdmin” in this section.

 

How to Back Up Using phpMyAdmin

Once you’ve followed the above instructions to access your website’s phpMyAdmin using the control panel, follow the instructions below to back up your databases.

  1. In phpMyAdmin click on “Databases.”
  2. Select your WordPress database called “wp.”  It will contain all of the tables that comprise your WordPress database and these files will start with “wp_”
  3. Click the “Export” tab located in the set of tabs at the top.
  4. Make sure the “Quick” option is selected and click “Go.” You will be prompted with a file to download.
  5. Save the file to your desktop.

With both your WordPress files and databases now downloaded, you have successfully backed up your WordPress website!

 

How to Back Up a WordPress Website: Automated Solution

Backing up a WordPress site manually takes time and technical expertise. It’s beneficial to have a manual backup and to understand the structure of your website, but there’s no shame if you prefer to perform regular, automated backups instead!

There are many WordPress plugins that exist to make backing up your WordPress files and databases easier. Check out our favourite backup plugins below.

 

1. UpdraftPlus

  • Free WordPress backup plugin
  • Scheduled and manual backups
  • Automatically upload backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, FTP, email, etc.
  • UpdraftPlus Premium offers additional back up options, as well as support and storage for a year

 

 2. Backup Buddy

  • The most popular premium WordPress plugin
  • One time purchase, not a monthly subscription-based model
  • Schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups
  • Automatically store backups in email, FTP, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, etc.
  • Duplicate, migrate, and restore websites
  • 1 year of ticketed support

 

3. BackWPUp

  • Free WordPress plugin
  • Scheduled and manual backups
  • Automatically upload backups to Dropbox, Amazon S3, FTP, email, etc.
  • Restore website backups
  • BackWPup comes with priority support and the ability to back up onto Google Drive

 

4. VaultPress (by JetPack)

  • Part of the JetPack subscription plan
  • Created by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg
  • Different pricing plans and features
  • Daily automated backups and 30-day archive of most recent backups
  • If you want an unlimited backup archive, you will have to upgrade your plan
  • Purchasing the mandatory JetPack subscription plan also comes with themes, security scans, marketing, stats, and support

 

5. BackUpWordPress

  • Free WordPress backup plugin
  • Provides free support and occassional updates to BackUpWordPress users
  • Automatic scheduling to back up your databases and files
  • No longer supports or sells paid add-ons (ex. cloud storage backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)

There are many more backup plugins for WordPress, but we’re just sharing the most favourable ones. Every WordPress plugin has its own pros and cons. Do your research, read reviews, and pick the best plugin for your needs, budget and expertise.

 

Key Tips to Back Up a WordPress Website

No matter which way you go with backing up, keep these important tips in mind.

  1. Back up your WordPress website regularly (weekly or biweekly is a good idea).
  2. Always back up your website before an upgrade or after recent changes or additions to your website.
  3. Keep 3 backups of your website in 3 different places (for example: on the cloud, on a hard drive or USB, in your email account, on your desktop, etc.).
  4. Never rely on your web hosting company to keep backups for you.
  5. Manually back up your website every once in awhile, even if you’re using automated backups.

For more information on backups and WordPress support, visit the WordPress support page.

As always, let us know if you have any comments or questions in the comments below.

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