There’s no disagreement on the importance of backing up your WordPress site.
Whether you’re a blogger, auto repair shop owner, or selling merchandise on an ecommerce site, backing up your site is essential.
It’s one of the most important steps in keeping your site secure.
When something goes wrong on your site, perhaps the web host server crashes and your files are lost. Or your site was hacked.
Or somehow a newly installed plugin or theme broke your site, you want the insurance of knowing you can restore a full working version of your site back to the way it was before the problem happened.
There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of WordPress backup solutions available.
You’ll find free and premium plugins as well as online services that will back up your files, database, or entire WordPress installation.
Heck, my search on Google this morning for “WordPress backup solution” served over 784,000 results.
And your web host may offer to back up your site, depending on your web hosting plan.
WordPress Backup Options
When you consider which backup plugin or service to use for your website, you want to identify your requirements.
Depending on your requirements, budget, and technical skill, you’ll find a range of options.
For example: do you want to back up to a specific online cloud platform, like Amazon S3, Dropbox, or Google Drive?
Do you want the option for an automatic restore with one click? Or will you have to manually restore your site? That requires a certain amount of technical skill, and time.
Almost all backup solutions offer scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly backup options to external sites.
Many services provide the ability to download backups to store locally on a hard drive. I often recommend to my clients to keep site backups offsite for security.
WordPress Plugin and Service Backup Features
Based on my WordPress backup research this week, I found solutions that:
- Back up the database
- Back up the database and files in your themes, plugins, and uploads folder
- Back up the database and files in your themes, plugins, and uploads folder and offer services to autorestore your site
- Back up the entire WordPress site, including WordPress core files
- Back up the entire WordPress site and offer services to autorestore your site
- Back up the entire WordPress site, offer services to autorestore your site, provide migration services to a new domain name
So many choices, how do you know which one is the best solution for your site?
Read the Fine Print
When you do your research on solutions, carefully read what services are offered. Here are a few tips:
- Ask specifically whether the backup service provides a database backup, file backup, or full working version backup of your site.
- Does the plugin or service offer backup to external cloud services?
- Find out if there’s an automatic restore button, often called one-click restore.
- With some plugins, you may have to manually restore the site. Or install WordPress first before you can restore your site.
- Do you have the technical skills and time to manually restore or install WordPress?
As I mentioned earlier, each backup plugin and service offers a range of features. It can be easy to overlook critical features.
Three WordPress Backup Solutions
I’ve reviewed over a dozen different WordPress backup options this past week.
Three solutions stood for me, in terms of customer support, features, ongoing development, and pricing.
BackupWordPress is a free WordPress plugin that backs up your entire site, including your database and files. Backups are stored on your server (which can be a security and space issue).
To restore your site with BackupWordPress, you’ll need to download the zipped backup file, unzip the file, and upload the files to your WordPress directory.
If you want to store your backups on an external cloud service, you’ll need to buy their BackupWordPress Pro version.
VaultPress is an online service offering WordPress site backup plans starting at $39/year (as of April 2017), with the ability to restore your site to the existing site or to a new site.
But you’ll first need to install a fresh copy of WordPress, since VaultPress only backups the database and any files in your plugins, themes, and uploads folders.
(Note: VaultPress is in the process of being merged into Jetpack.)
ManageWP is a plugin and online service that offers a monthly full WordPress site backup online for free.
Or you can subscribe to their premium Backup add-on for $2/month (as of April 2017) and schedule hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly backups.
One nice feature I like about ManageWP: all backups are stored on ManageWP servers. No need to set up a cloud account.
In addition, the premium ManageWP Backup add-on allows you to clone or migrate your site to a new site.
After You’ve Chosen a Backup Solution
Once you’ve selected a backup solution, you’ll want to document how to access that backup. You might do that with a password manager or some other method.
I met recently with a new client who had regularly scheduled site backups going to an external service, which was great.
Except no one knew the email address, username, or password for that external service, so they couldn’t access the backups.
Thankfully, there are many WordPress backup solutions to choose from. Make sure the backup service you choose matches your requirements for features and options.
Read the fine print about backup plugins and services so you’re not caught off-guard when your site goes down and your backup solution isn’t what you expected.