How To Back Up Your WordPress Website

Website Design

Do you have a recent backup of your WordPress website? Are you 100% sure? I mean, really truly sure?

Yesterday, I read that a friend had lost everything overnight – there was an error with her credit card and her hosting plan wasn’t renewed. The hosting company deleted her site and now she has to pay $150 to recover it or start from scratch. A lot of clients tell me that they have a back up plan in place, but when I investigate, it often happens that the backup hasn’t been taking place at all.

Or perhaps you’ve been putting off updating WordPress or your plugins, because you’re worried that updating your site might break something and you’ve been meaning to check that your backup is working, but somehow you haven’t gotten around to it and now you have dozens of upgrade notices and you’re too too scared to push the button. Sound familiar?

Other common issues and misconceptions include:

  • Assuming your hosting company is backing up your site. Some do but many don’t.
  • Installing a backup plugin but not setting a backup destination for the files.
  • Only backing up the database or the files, but not both

But by far the most common problem occurs when trying to back up websites with lots of large image files. Frequently, a backup plugin will time out when trying to zip up a large backup and send it. Because it takes a long time to execute, often the hosting server will decide there is probably an error and halt the backup, meaning it never arrives at its destination. Equally, there might be a problem during the transfer of a large zipped file.

So, what’s the answer?

Ideally, a backup system should be set and forget and give you total peace of mind. Here are my two favourite solutions for backing up your WordPress website.

UPDRAFT PLUS 2016-07-12 08-52-51

For me, this is pick of the freebies. You can back up into the cloud (Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, email are all options) and you can restore with a single click. Backups of files and database can also have separate schedules. You can also upgrade to Updraft Vault / Premium which stores all of your backups to their own cloud service.

BLOGVAULT 2016-07-12 09-38-21

This is my favourite solution and the one I use for all of my own sites and client site backups. Once the Blogvault plugin is installed on your WordPress site, your entire site is backed up and then, from that moment on, the server automatically contacts the plugin everyday but only for new changes, so that all future backups are done in an incremental manner. This drastically reduces the chance of the backup failing and it means that you can revert back to any previous version going back 60 days. If there is any problem, you are automatically notified by email.

In addition, there is a new feature coming soon which will also scan your website for malware and any sign of hacking and alert you. You’ll then be able to login to your account and clean up infected files with one click or just revert to a previous version. In short, worrying about backups and hacking won’t be on your to-do list anymore.

So, are you backed up? Really, truly 100% sure?

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    • Melissa Love

      That’s a good one, Dick. Though as a lot of photographers have such large sites, I tend to recommend incremental backup systems, where only the changes are backed up. Less room for error.

  1. Emma Brooks

    Computers crash, disks run out of space, humans make mistakes, so take control and take your own backups and test them!

    What’s actually been written to the file?

    Can you restore your entire site from it?

    Remember, you only need to backup the things that change, not the WordPress core.

  2. Kristen B

    As some one who just created a new WordPress site this is not something i had thought of doing. Thank you so much for the information.

  3. Carolyn

    This is such a great post! I’ve been trying to figure out how to back up my website, so this is very helpful and I plan to work on it today! Thank you!!

  4. Tonya Moken

    Wow, what a great blog. I will have to look into what my backup plan is. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Christine

    I didn’t even know to think about this. Super eye-opening. I guess it’s safe to assume that everything we do on technology should be backed up. I feel like my hard drives have hard drives now. Haha. Have you heard of these issues with Squarespace?

    • Melissa Love

      Squarespace includes backups so you’re good to go.

  6. Emily

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m pretty new to blogging and didn’t even think about the fact that I need to back up my site. Thanks to your recommendation, I’m currently backing it up to Dropbox.

    Question: How often should you back up your site? Daily, weekly, multiple times per day?

    • Melissa Love

      Hi Emily

      I blog a lot, so I back up daily to make sure, that in the event of a disaster, I wouldn’t lost any content.

  7. Carmen D Rivera-Gomez

    Yeah, I’m one of those that has depended on my hosting company for back ups. Are they really done? Do I have to pay to restore them? Hmmm??? I’m not sure.

    This post has given me the tools I need to not have to wonder about this. Thanks so much for the great information. Off to install a plug-in, now!

  8. Richard

    Great post thank you Melissa. My host ( doesn’t allow automatic backups via a plugin as they sell their own backup service. Which host would you recommend?

    • Melissa Love

      Hi Richard. I’m a big fan of Siteground. All of my sites are with them.

  9. Puneet Sahalot

    Hi Melissa,

    I have been a long time blogVault user as well. It’s absolutely fantastic, easy to use and setup. I love test restore and migration features. Above all, Akshat and his team are always quick to help with any issues.

    Other than this, I like the newly launched WP Time Capsule. It’s built by the team behind InfiniteWP and offers a lot with the free version.

  10. Emilie

    Hi Melissa! Thank you for this post. I started using blogVault this after, and I’m already in love! It works so well and the bonus – the interface is nice. 😉
    Thank you for the tips! One question… do you suggest I also download a copy of the backup to my computer for triple extra security or is that going overboard? Thanks! Cheers

  11. Gail

    Important post Melissa! My host is Flywheel. They cost a little more than a service like Bluehost but have quite a few benefits, like an automatic daily backup system, and you can generate as many one-offs as necessary. Love the peace of mind.


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