One of the most important aspects of maintaining your WordPress site is keeping regular backups, so if something goes wrong or you introduce a change which breaks your site, you can easily restore and quickly return to the point immediately before where the break was introduced.
Most decent WordPress hosting providers will offer services which look after automatic backups of your site for you. Sometimes however, you might need or want to keep your own backup as well.
In the event that your WordPress site becomes hacked or goes down, or simply doesn’t look the way it should, you know that you can easily call back an earlier version that you know worked.
UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular free WordPress backup plugins available with over 2 million active installs currently running.
UpdraftPlus allows you to create a backup of your WordPress site, and then download a copy of for local storage or to keep on your web server.
Scheduled backups as well as on-demand backups are available, and you also have the option to choose specific files you would like to backed up.
UpdraftPlus is available for free in the WordPress plugin repo. There is also a premium version which includes add-ons to migrate or clone websites, database search and replace, and premium support from the developer.
As the name suggests, the All in One Migration plugin is designed to take a snapshot of an existing site for the purpose of migrating it over to another. However, many WordPress users chose to use the plugin to snapshot their site and simply use that as backup restore point if required.
The plugin is simple to use and works by automatically scanning all the files your server, then copying your database and storing all of the data into one single backup file. This file can then be downloaded, or stored on your hosting server. From within the plugin screen of your WordPress, there is the option to restore from an earlier snapshot.
All in One Migration doesn’t support scheduled backups, but is a handy option if you need to take a manual backup, of if indeed you are moving your site from one host to another. There is also a premium version available which provides support for storing your backups externally, such as Google Drive, Dropbox or an SFTP server.
All in One Migration can be found in the WordPress repo for free, and has over 2 million active installs.
The third option we are going to cover here isn’t a plugin, rather its a series of manual steps which you can follow to take a full backup of your site. I’m not going to cover the detailed steps in this article – We can save that for a technical series. – But I will provide the basic details and overview of the things you need to consider when doing a manual backup.
This option is for those who are more technically comfortable, want more control or don’t want to rely on a 3rd party plugin. One major advantage to learning this method of backup and restore is that you will be able to restore your site, even if your WordPress site is offline, becomes unresponsive, crashes or becomes hacked and you are prevented or blocked from logging in to the Dashboard.
To better understand this method, its worth learning about the structure of a WordPress site. But as a starting point, all you need to know is that your WordPress site is made up of two things. A bunch of files, and a database.
You will need to connect to your sites file system, either by SFTP or using a hosting control panel (such as cPanel or Plesk). Most hosting providers will give you the details for you to connect to the backend of your site so you can login and see the file system.
The critical files you will want to make a copy of are all contained within the ‘wp-content’ directory. WordPress has a very specific directory structure, and all of your plugins, themes and media are included under the wp-content directory. So simply take a copy of the wp-content directory, and if you ever need to restore your files (plugins, themes, media) you can always refer to this directory.
The second (and equally important) thing for you take a copy of is the WordPress database. All of your WordPress content (pages, blog posts) are stored in the database, as well as all of your site settings, preferences, user details and all other critical elements which make up your site.
In order for you to backup your database, you will need to login to the WordPress database and take an export of all the tables. Some web hosting providers will give you access to the database using tools such as phpMyAdmin or Adminer.
Once you have successfully exported your database and the tables, you will have a file which can be used to import your database content back in in the case of having to restore.
Accessing the WordPress database is a potentially risky activity, as any changes which are made directly to the database can break your site and lock you out from logging into your WordPress Database. This is certainly a step which should only be performed by advanced users, but is a very good skill to learn.
Rope Digital offers Managed WordPress Hosting plans which include automated daily backup, as well as WordPress core, plugin and theme updates. If you would like to learn more, please get in touch with us.
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