How to backup wordpress is a common request I hear from photographers, and to be honest I wish they would ask the question more often as most WordPress users are either relying on their website hosting company doing it for them or worst of all doing it themselves and doing it incorrectly!
Backups are basically the first layer of security for your WordPress site. A lot of things can happen to your website, it can get hacked, servers go down, or worse, your web host could accidentally delete your website.
Without a good back up, your website may go down the drain, and you may have to start from scratch even if it wasn’t your fault. So, if you have a website that is a core part of your photography business, then you need to have a plan in place for backing it up.
So Let’s Learn How to Backup WordPress by Starting at the Beginning – What is a Website Backup?
In simple terms, a website backup is a duplicate version of all your work. When backing up a WordPress website that backup will include all the WordPress files, themes, plugins, widgets, and also the underlying WordPress database, which includes all the posts, comments, and users. It will also include all the file-based media content such as your photographs in your website portfolio and images you may have used to illustrate a blog post.
Backing up a website is similar to how you can save a duplicate version of an important document on a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive. It’s always a good idea to save an important item more than once, and in separate places or “mediums” like the cloud, an external drive, on your PC, etc. As photographers this should be second-nature to us as we should already have processes in place for multiple backups of our clients’ photographs.
Why You Must Back up Your Site Yourself and Not Leave to Your Hosting Company
Many web hosts don’t back up sites regularly enough, and the few who do often do it for their own protection, and believe it or not many hosts don’t make the backup files available for the users unless you’ve paid an additional fee within your monthly hosting plan.
You may also think that you website hasn’t changed since your developer did it, so they’ll have a copy.
But websites are constantly tweaked over time, and these changes won’t be reflected on the original version. Plus, if you run a blog all those blogs posts and images you added won’t be available on the original copy of your site.
Keeping a proper backup is one of the easiest and most effective protection against viruses and hack attacks. While they won’t prevent attacks, a backup will cure them when needed by restoring your site to a pre-hacked state.
Think about the potential loss of income or damage to your business reputation if your site was offline for a period of time.
What Kinds of Backup Solutions are Available?
1. Haw to Backup WordPress using WordPress Plugins
For those unfamiliar with WordPress, plugins add on to the functionality that exists on WordPress sites. There are many backup plugins out there, some good, some way better; others free, and others cost money. Some of the most popular plugins include:
• Jetpack: this provides a range of security, SEO, and website management features including real-time backups and an unlimited storage space with the professional paid plan/
• BackUpWordPress: this is a simple plugin that backs up your files and database on a schedule that fits your requirements. It has a commercial edition which enables you to back up your site to an offsite cloud storage.
• UdraftPlus: this is among the highest-ranking backup plugins for WordPress, with more than 1 million active installations. The plugin schedules and stores your backups on a remote service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, OneDrive, or even your own server.
• Duplicator: often used for cloning and migration, Duplicator offers manual backup and restore features. It comes with a commercial edition that supports cloud backups and scheduling.
• BackWPup: BackWPup’s free edition lets you back up your database and files on a variety of third party and personal storage spaces. Its commercial edition offers scheduling, automatic updates, and differential backup.
• XCloner: this is an open source plugin that offers a wide range of cloud storage and scheduling options.
However, plugins are not always the recommended option. Think about it, performing an automatic backup of a large website adds more weight to your server. This means that every time the plugin does a backup, it could slow down your site considerably, among other things. And, when it comes to WordPress, the fewer the plugins, the better.
Plugins are also PHP based, which is an unreliable and inefficient way to perform a backup. They attempt to communicate with the server via PHP, in a way that most of the more secure Linux servers either make very difficult or won’t allow altogether. Due to this, backup plugins usually rely on fallback methods that have high failure rate. In addition, they generally use WordPress’ own Scheduler vs. Linux scheduler, leading to reliability issues.
2. How to Backup WordPress – Managed Web Hosts
Most of the managed WordPress webhosts provide regular backups as part of their services. Some of them actually do not let you run additional backup plugins. But, they do offer daily backups for all your core WordPress themes, files, and plugins, as well as your database. They also let you initiate your own backup as needed, like before installing a major WordPress update or while you are changing themes. Some of the benefits of using a managed WordPress host include:
• The backup and restore schedules and points are taken care of automatically. It’s however, important to go through your host’s policy about these backups to find out if they guarantee their backups, and how frequently they perform the backups.
• The caching of your website is enable automatically, which translates into your webpages loading much faster.
• They come with the basic security protocols enable, such as limiting the number of login attempts, and having a firewall in place. Most of the managed WordPress hosts usually control for cleanups and malware scanning.
Ensure that your host keeps the automatic backups on a separate server than the one where your website is placed. That’s because if your site’s server is hacked, and they had your backups stored there, then they will not survive. Be sure to contact the tech support or customer care if you aren’t sure or to find out more.
3. How to Backup WordPress – Manual Backup
This is the one of the most effective ways to back up your site. It entails manually storing a backup of your site to your local computer via FTP. You can manually backup an entire website through cPanel. Based on your host, the cPanel dashboard will look different, but have similar functionality.
Here’s how to backup WordPress Manually:
• Log into the control panel of your cPanel
• Go to the ‘Backup’ icon and click on it
• Select the ‘Download/Generate a Full Backup’
• In the ‘Backup Destination’ menu, choose ‘Home Directory’ and enter your details as needed. Click on the ‘Generate Backup’ button.
• Check for an Email to confirm that the Backup is ready
The most important thing here is to download the backup to your local computer and keep it safely stored. You also need to keep backing up as frequently as possible and store the backup files is a safe place. Don’t forget that if you stored your backups on your server and it goes down, you will be left without a backup.
The downside to manual backups is that you have to remember to back up your site regularly. If you have a large website, it may take a long time to download it, and there’s no way to download only the files that have changed since the last time. You must also manually monitor the download to make sure it has completed, and you need to develop a logical way to store and manage the backup files.
Nonetheless, if you do opt for manual backups, be sure to set up reminders to perform a backup, and try to never skip the task. Have a logical folder structure ideally with a date as the directory name. Always remember to back up your databases too, and make sure you have multiple hard drives for added protection.
WordPress Website Backup Best Practices
Have at least 1 to 2 copies of the most recent full-site backups in separate locationsBy now, you truly understand how important backing up your website on a regular basis is. You also need to find a reliable way to be in control of your backups.
Make sure that you have a working copy of your site in your own hard drive, so that you always have the ultimate fail-safe with you.
Check your Backups Regularly
Make sure you check your website backup at least once a month, especially if you are using a plugin. Sometimes the plugins lose connection to the cloud services, or your backups might have grown too much in size to be transferred timely and reliably via the internet. Checking your backups can also give you an insight on potential issues with your site, such as unoptimized images, huge log files in your database, or other files that should be there being included.
Restoration Should be a Last Resort
One common mistake people do is jumping right into what should be a last resort. When you do a full website restore, you will lose everything generated since the last backup was recorded. This include any media, comments, posts, edits, etc. In most cases, there’s usually no need to go to such lengths as most issues can be corrected by replacing a single file.
Choose a Backup Schedule Wisely
If your site has a database or other dynamic elements, make sure you back it up at least daily. Otherwise, you can back up your site as often as it changes. If possible, schedule the backups to occur at the quietest of times of your website, to avoid any disruptions.
So there you have it – you should now have an idea how to backup wordpress effectively and safely.
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