How To Backup a WordPress Site - An Ultimate Guide

How To Backup a WordPress Site

Last updated on September 21th, 2017

A WordPress backup is every website owner’s best defense against a malicious hacker.

This can be a life saver when unexpected things happen.

When your website broke after installing a faulty plugin or poorly coded theme.

Or, when your WordPress hosting failed or gets corrupted. And all this sort of disaster.

It happened already to many users and this could happen to you, too.

This is why you should not just sit there and do nothing to keep WordPress site secure.

You should learn how to backup your WordPress site so that whatever or whenever this may happen to you, a readily available backup is in place.

What You’ll Learn From This WordPress Backup Guide

What & Why WordPress Backup Matters?

So, what really is WordPress backup and why it’s ridiculously important?

Let’s face it, most website owners(if not all) put most of our time developing or maintaining them.

It’s normal and worthy of our time. And for some, starting a website or blog becomes their source of income.

I know, a lot of bloggers and website owners make use of their blog or website to generate enough income.

Like Harsh Agrawal from ShoutMeLoud as an example. Harsh earned $30K+ per month on his popular blogging site. That’s a huge amount of money and surely deserved it.

But, what do you think will happen if suddenly he loses control over his website?

You might guess it! A sudden downtime could lose a big amount of money.

That is why in order to run website smoothly and confidently, a constant backup is necessary.

And according to a report by Small Business Trends, backing up your WordPress site regularly may save you from update problems, attacks and hacks, and accidental file deletion.

That’s why make sure that you always have a fresh and latest copy of your website. That you have a working backup of your “WordPress database and files“.

So whenever a disaster occurs, you can easily and quickly restore things back to normal.

How To Backup a WordPress Site: Overview

Backing up WordPress site comes in different ways but most importantly backup your entire website (WordPress Database and Files).

As you would probably know, WordPress website is composed of your theme, plugin, wp core files, media files, scripts, static files and pages.

On the other hand, your posts, pages, comments, theme settings, plugin settings, wp user, and links are what included in your database.

Some of the best WordPress hosting company will provide you automatic backups. So this might be useful if you want to take advantage of your web host resources.

While this method will work for some, others will do the manual backup sort of thing. Or by using some WordPress backup plugin to automatically do a backup and ensure when and how frequently backups occur.

All of these methods of backing up WordPress site works and totally up to you to choose.

  • Download automatic backup from your web host
  • Backup WordPress database using phpMyAdmin
  • Backup WordPress files via FTP
  • Backup your WordPress site using a plugin

And whatever method it is, bear in mind that your goal is to have a working backup of the databases and files.

How to Backup WordPress Database using phpMyAdmin?

Your database is the most valuable part of your website. This contains all the information and usually change most often depending on how busy your site is.

Thus, it is highly recommended that you should create database backup 2-3 times per week if you constantly change a lot of things on your site.

Luckily, backing up your WordPress database is super easy and simple, and can be done using an admin tool called phpMyAdmin, which is usually available through your web host’s cPanel.

In my case, I am using Bluehost which support Cpanel. And creating a database backup is pretty simple.

Here’s a detailed instructions on how to create a database backup using phpMyAdmin.

This process will not take much time to complete. Once done, you have to save the exported SQL file to a safer storage.

This can be saved to an online storage like – Dropbox, One Drive, Google Drive or Mediafire. You could even save it to your flash drive or to an external hard drive.

In my case, and in client projects, I usually organized backup by naming it something like domain_dbbackup_date and save it to Dropbox.

Dropbox is really the best option and my go to online storage for keeping things. I can have the files readily available anywhere and everywhere as long as I am connected in the web.

You can try it as well to one of your back-ups soon.

Try also to explore other alternatives, there’s a lot of them.

How to Manually Backup WordPress Files?

Now that you have your database backup. Next up, is your WordPress files.

These files are located in your web root directory.

Usually, it can be accessed either through an FTP client or via Cpanel file manager.

We’re going to do both in this guide. But before doing so, here is what included in this directory:

  • wp-admin folder
  • wp-content folder
  • wp-includes folder
  • .htaccess file
  • wp core files

Basically, these are the files and folders you need to backup.

But doing so can be time-consuming and needs a lot of space if you have to do at least 2-3 copies of it in the next week or so.

What I normally do instead when going to backup WordPress files, I prioritize the most important one and just leave the rest. Since most of these folders and files can easily be replaced by installing a fresh copy of WordPress except the wp-content folder and wp-config.php file.

Thus, I make sure to give priority to these files instead to save memory and time.

However, it’s always safer to just backup ALL the files. Just to make sure it would work when you restore it. But then again that totally up to you.

Now that you know what files to backup.

Let’s get started.

Method 1: Backup WordPress Files Using Your Cpanel’s File Manager

The first thing you need to do is login to your web host Cpanel.

The screenshots below would be different from what you see in your Cpanel. If you’re hosted with Bluehost then this will be exactly what you’ll see.

Let’s get going.

Once logged in, go to File Manager under the Files section.

Then, click on it and a dialogue box will appear. In the pop-up, you can select the directory you wish to open.

  • Home Directory – will open exactly to your web host index
  • Web Root – will open your public_html
  • Document Root for – this will open to the root of any site you select

Select Web Root and put checked next to Show hidden files and click Submit button.

This will take you to a separate window and show the files. Make sure you are in the public_html folder.

Then, look for the wp-content folder, right-click on it and select Compress.

A pop-up will appear which asks you to select compression type.

Choose from the list of available compression type.

  • Zip Archive(.zip)
  • Tar Archive(.tar)
  • GZiped Tar Archive(.tar.gz)
  • Bzip2ed Tar Archive(.tar.bz2)

In my case, I usually select Zip Archive as compression type since it is much convenient.

After that, give it a name or you can leave as it is then clicked the Compress file(s) button.

Alternatively, you can select the wp-content folder and just click on the Compress button above. This will do exactly the same on the steps above.

Wait for the archive to finish.

When done, it will create a file called name_you_specify.zip or wp-content.zip within the root folder.

Now, refresh file manager by clicking the reload icon and look for the .zip file.

Finally, select the zip archive and click on the download icon above.

This could take a bit longer depending on your connection speed and the size of your website.

Don’t forget to delete this file in your root folder to save disk space when the download process is done.

On the other hand, for your wp-config.php file. There is no need to compress it, just hit the download icon above and it will save to your computer.

With both folder and file already downloaded, I suggest to keep it in a safer place.

That’s all there is to it. You now have an updated wp-content and wp-config.php files backup.

Next part is doing the same thing but an alternative resource called FTP.

Method 2: Backup WordPress Files Using an FTP Client

In the previous part, we’ve created a backup using the File Manager.

Now, you’ll learn how to do it using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client.

There’s a lot of them but I do recommend using Filezilla since it’s always FREE to use.

If you don’t have it already, you can download it here.

Here’s what you need to get started.

  • an FTP account – you can get this from your web host
  • a working FTP client – Filezilla, highly recommended

Alright, the first thing you need to do is open up Filezilla and connect using your web host FTP credentials.

You’ll see a notice if you are successfully connected to the network.

Now, create a new directory on your desktop (left pane).

All you need to do is right-click Desktop and then select Create directory.

A pop-up will appear. Name it something like domain_wpcotent_backup_date format then click on OK button.

Now, a new folder will be added to your desktop.

Next, copy wp-content folder from public_html directory to the newly created folder at your desktop.

You can do this by right-clicking on the wp-content folder and then select Download.

Or by simply dragging it to the domain_wpcontent_backup_date folder on the left pane.

Finally, do the same process to the wp-config.php file and you’re done!

How Often Should You Backup Your Site?

There is no wrong or right answer to this question to be exact. It really depends on how frequently you made changes to your site.

So, if you’re making frequent changes and do a lot of modifications then daily or weekly backup would be appropriate.

You may also secure at least 4 latest database and WordPress files backups. Again, that would totally be up to you!

Automate Backup Using These Best WordPress Backup Plugins

Even though it’s best to really backup WordPress regularly, doing it daily, weekly, or monthly can be a bit hassle.

But not anymore, there are several free and paid backup plugins for WordPress which can help you automate the process.

Doing an automatic WordPress backup can save you enough time in the long run.

Most of these plugins are fairly easy to use and can be setup or configure in less than 5-minutes.

Here’s a detailed instructions on how to install WordPress plugin.

1. BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is the best premium WordPress backup plugin. With just a few clicks, BackupBuddy backs up your entire WordPress website from within the WordPress dashboard. It allows you to easily schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups. It can also automatically store your backups in Amazon S3, Dropbox, FTP, Rackspace Cloud, Stash (their cloud service), and email.

In addition, by using their Stash service you can do real-time backups.

Unlike other premium plugins which come with a monthly subscription, BackupBuddy isn’t a subscription based service, so there is no monthly fee. And it can be used in any websites based on your plan.

BackupBuddy not only do back up your WordPress site, it can also be used to duplicate, migrate and restore websites.

Here’s how you can create an entire WordPress installation backup with the plugin.

Image by: iThemes

1. 2. UpdraftPlus

Image by: WordPress

UpdraftPlus is a free WordPress backup plugin which allows you to create a complete backup of your WordPress site and store it in the cloud or directly on your computer.

Here at WPMakeSite, I use this plugin to backup the site.

With more than 1+ million active installs and over 9.5M+ all time downloads, UpdraftPlus is undeniably one of the best and most popular WordPress backup plugins.

The plugin also supports scheduled backups. You can also choose which files to backup. It can automatically upload your backups to UpdraftPlus Vault, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, FTP and more.

Premium version is also available starting at $70 with multiple add-ons. You’ll get auto backup, migrate or clone site, database options and more.

Watch this video on how to easily and quickly install UpdraftPlus.

2. 3. BackWPup

Image by: WordPress

BackWPup is a free backup plugin which you can easily download at the plugin repository.

It has more than 500,000+ active installs and nearly 4.5M all time downloads.

This plugin makes it extremely easy to schedule automatic backups. It also allows you to create complete WordPress backup for free and store it in the cloud, FTP, email, or to your computer.

It also has a Pro version which gives, even more, features including the ability to store backups on Amazon Glacier and Google Drive.

Watch this video on how to use and install BackWPup plugin.

3. 4. BackUpWordPress

Image by: WordPress

BackupWordPress is a simple yet complete WordPress backup plugin. It allows you to create different schedules for your database and files.

Though this plugin does not allow you to store your WordPress backups to a cloud storage service it is still one of the best options for a free backup plugin.

To date, it has more than 200,000+ active install and 3.2M+ all time downloads.

If you want more features like storing backups in the cloud (Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud and more) then the Pro version starting at $29 is the best option.

Watch this video on how to use the BackUpWordPress plugin.

Alright, you made it up to this part.

Indeed, doing regular backups can save you a lot. And it’s even easier and hassle free using some best backup plugins.

Some hosting company offers automatic backups but don’t rely on it. It’s always better to create your own backups just before and after making major changes.

How often you do the backup, totally depends on your requirements and ensure your site stays safe.

Have you had difficulty backing up your WordPress site? Let me know in your comments below.

2017-09-21T16:38:18+00:00

About the Author:

Rodney Lacambra is the founder and editor of WPMakeSite Blog and is a freelance WordPress Developer by profession. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

9 Comments

  1. Fritzie August 6, 2017 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Hey there, thanks for sharing this helpful article on backing up wordpress website. I learn a lot especially doing database backup.

    Can you show us also how to restore my site using the backups?

    I’ll be glad if you could make an article for this soon.

    Thank you so much, Sir. Keep up the good work.

    • Rodney Lacambra August 6, 2017 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Hi there, Fritzie.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Glad you found this guide useful. And yes, I’ll do the same thing on restoring WordPress from backup.

      Keep you posted. You might need to subscribe to one of the newsletters to get updated on the post.

      Thank you so much.

      ~Rod

  2. Punascha August 9, 2017 at 3:56 am - Reply

    hi RODNEY,
    thanks for sharing , its definitely going to help a ot ,

    • Rodney Lacambra August 9, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Hey, Punascha,

      Thanks for dropping by and finding the guide useful.

      Cheers,

      ~Rod

  3. lokesh kumar August 10, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    Hi very good article, thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

    • Rodney Lacambra August 12, 2017 at 5:11 am - Reply

      Hello, Lokesh.

      Thank you for finding the guide helpful. Have you had any difficulty backup your WordPress site? Let me know.

      Thanks

      ~Rod

  4. tanmay August 30, 2017 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Hey Rodney
    such an informative post thanks for sharing with us
    keep it up for the good work

    • Rodney Lacambra August 30, 2017 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      Hello, Tanmay. Thanks for stopping by and finding the guide useful. It’s my pleasure to help others and share my experience. Keep coming back for more useful articles.

  5. Prady October 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Hi
    very good article, thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

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