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?
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.
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 Settings → UpdraftPlus 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
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.
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.
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?
- NOTE: If you’re updating WordPress core or our theme, you may wish to omit uploads from your backup. Your uploads folder tends to be very large, and WordPress core/theme updates tend to leave those uploads untouched. *If you want to be safe, include them in your backup.* If you want to omit them (e.g., if you don’t have enough space to include them in this temporary backup), click on the (…) to open a list of items to include in your backup, and make sure to uncheck Uploads.)