Easy WordPress backups with UpdraftPlus

Easy WordPress backups with UpdraftPlus

Are you using UpdraftPlus for scheduled and one-time backups of your WordPress site? If not, we strongly recommend you set it up today. Here’s why (and how!):

We’ve all been there. You’re rushing to make the final changes on a post before publishing, and the WordPress dashboard is desperately trying to get your attention about all the plugin updates available. Surely you have backups of your site somewhere; it’s safe to just quickly upgrade those and be on your way, right?

WordPress warning to perform backups before upgrading

Or maybe WordPress has released a new version. You go to the Updates section, where you’re hit with that nagging backup warning. You’ve never had a problem before. Taking time to figure out how to do a backup isn’t really necessary, is it?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Not only can it save you hours of heartache and frustration, but it may be the only thing keeping you from losing all of the posts, pages, and comments you’ve spent years building. Thankfully, there are quick, free, and painless ways to grab backup your site. This post shows you how to do just that!

Plugin Pick: UpdraftPlus

Here at Agathon, our plugin of choice for backups is UpdraftPlus. In our experience, it’s easy to see why this plugin claims to be “the world’s highest rated and most installed WordPress backup plugin.”

UpdraftPlus is simple to use and seamlessly integrates with more than a dozen remote storage services (think Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP, Amazon AWS, etc.). The free version of UpdraftPlus offers scheduled and one-time backups and easy restores. As with most plugins, they also offer a paid premium version with incremental backups, database encryption, advanced reporting, and expert support.

Configuring UpdraftPlus

To install UpdraftPlus, go to Plugins Add New and search for “UpdraftPlus.” Find UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore in the results and press Install Now. After it successfully installs, press Activate Plugin.

Once installed, you can perform backups and access all of its settings under SettingsUpdraftPlus Backups.

Remote storage location

While it’s optional, using a remote location to store your backup is both convenient and beneficial. Rather than storing your backup files on your web server or needing to download them to your desktop, remote backups are stored with a file storage service. (Chances are you already have an account with one of these services, e.g., Dropbox or Google Drive.) This means the backup isn’t relying on your current Internet connection and also ensures you have a full copy of your site somewhere other than on your server, which is always a good fail safe.

To set up remote storage, press the Settings tab and choose the service you’d like to use. Press Save Changes at the bottom. Next you need to give UpdraftPlus permission to store your backups by authenticating that service. If you’re not sure how to do this, refer to the instructions in the Authenticate with <Service Name> section on the same screen.

Pain-free one-time backups

Screenshot of UpdraftPlus one-time backup settings

With the configuration complete, you can now easily perform a quick one-time backup before any major changes. Here’s how:

1. Under the Backup / Restore tab, press the Backup Now button.

2. Ensure both boxes are selected for:

  • Include your database in the backup
  • Include your files in the backup (…)1

3. If you want to use remote storage, select Send this backup to remote storage

4. Press Backup Now at the bottom

The backup will start immediately, and a progress bar will appear showing the current status. Once complete, scroll down to the Existing Backups section and confirm your new backup file is listed.

That’s it! You can now have peace of mind when performing any plugin or WordPress updates, knowing you have a full copy of your website should anything ever go wrong.

Curious how UpdraftPlus looks in action? See these helpful screenshots on their site, which give you a sense for the basic features and how simple the interface is to use.

Scheduled backups with UpdraftPlus

While we’ve focused on performing one-time backups up to this point, the truth is every WordPress site, regardless of size or traffic, needs to be backed up regularly. Don’t assume you’ll never need them!

Your hosting company should be providing regular backups (and easy restores), but we strongly recommend that you run regular backups as well. This provides a layered assurance so that you can rest easy knowing that your content truly is safe.

To configure automatic backups, go the Settings tab of the plugin menu. You’ll want to schedule backups of both your files and database using the dropdown menus. Our recommendation is daily for both.

Just like with the daily backups, we recommend excluding your Uploads folder from your scheduled backups. If your host doesn’t do backups or you’re concerned about losing those files, you could do a monthly backup of the Uploads folder. However, because your Uploads folder doesn’t change often (other than the addition of new files, which you probably also have on your computer), backing it up daily could use unnecessary resources.

Performing a restore

Hopefully you never need a backup, but there are times when things go wrong and you need to restore your site. If you find yourself in such a situation, go to Settings → UpdraftPlus Backups and scroll down to the Existing Backups. Find the one you want to use and click the blue Restore button.

UpdraftPlus will walk you through choosing which portions of the site you want to restore (e.g., Plugins, Themes, Database), verify it can access the most recent backup, and then confirm you want to restore. At that point you simply wait for the Restore successful! confirmation!

How often do you backup your site?

Do you use UpdraftPlus, or do you use a different backup plugin?

Easy WordPress backups with UpdraftPlus

Brian Pikkaart

Systems Engineer and Project Manager at Agathon
Brian works with clients to capture and organize their priorities and budgets and then coordinates our development team to get the work done. In addition, he plays an important role in the system administration for our hosting environment.
Brian Pikkaart

Footnotes

  1. NOTE: We recommend excluding Uploads from the files you’re backing up. Your Uploads folder tends to be very large, and WordPress core/theme updates tend to leave those uploads untouched. To omit them, click on the (…) to open a list of items to include in your backup, and make sure to uncheck Uploads.)

2 comments on “Easy WordPress backups with UpdraftPlus

  • Danny Sherman says:

    Thanks for this post. I have also wondered about using Coda to back things up by keeping a full clone of everything on my mac. Is that reasonable?

    Danny

    Reply
    • Brian Pikkaart says:

      Hey Danny,

      Having a full clone of your server stored locally certainly won’t hurt, especially if you have the bandwidth and space! That could be helpful in any number of scenarios. AGhosted also offers an automated, full system backup service with targeted restores if you’d rather avoid the hassle of doing it yourself.

      Even with a full clone and regular system backups, using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus can still be invaluable for a few reasons. First, the plugin approach will ensure a quiescent snapshot of your data, which can be important when dealing with database data. Second, it’s likely far easier to restore using your WP dashboard rather than having to restore at the system level and figuring out which WP files or database tables you need. Third, UpdraftPlus makes it simple to run a backup on-demand so you know you have as recent a copy of your site as possible, whereas an automated backup might have been from earlier in the day or later.

      Regardless, having an extra copy of your data is rarely going to be a bad idea. 🙂 I hope that helps. Thanks for the question, Danny!

      Brian

      Reply

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