You are backing up your self-hosted WordPress blog, aren’t you?
Well, if not, you’re not alone. Most people I’ve surveyed are not backing up their WordPress site. That’s because up until recently, there haven’t been many good solutions for it.
But it is super important to have these backups. And you can’t rely on your hosting provider to do it for you. Even if they say they have complete backups, I’ve heard too many stories of this not turning out well.
The last person I talked to, his hosting provider had a server failure, and he lost EVERYTHING. What do you really expect from your $7/month budget hosting provider?
Or what if your site gets hacked? You’ll want to make sure you can recover quickly, and without backups that is nearly impossible.
WordPress Back Up – The Whole Picture
So what does a complete WordPress website backup include? Here are the elements you’ll want to make sure you back up:
- Your WordPress Database: Your content – blog posts, pages and comments are stored in the WordPress DB. This is absolutely essential to back up or you risk losing all of your hard work, and the contributions of the people who comment on your blog as well.
- Your Images: Any images or other files you upload are stored in the wp-content directory under your WordPress install directory. This includes the images in your blog posts and pages. Location:
- Theme customizations: If you have customized your WordPress Theme, you may have changed some of the .css or theme files. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got backup copies of these or you could lose many hours of work, or expensive web design customizations. Ideally you should back up your entire theme folder. Location:
- Plugins: This one is debatable, but if you are using more than a few plugins, it can be easy to ‘forget’ which ones you had installed and activated. Some parts of your blog might depend on these plugins for proper functionality, and for the easiest and fastest restore you should have your plugins directory backed up as well. Location:
- System Files: There are several system files that you will need to back up as well, including your .htaccess file (which gets updates by WordPress if you change things like your URL structure) and your wp-config file. Location:
Note: In all the examples above, I’m using
/wordpress/ to indicate the directory on the server you installed WordPress in. This may be called something else, or it may be the root of your domain.
WordPress Back Up Options:
I’ve experimented with a lot of ways to back up WordPress for my sites and for my clients. Here are the tools that I’ve found the most value in.
Your hosting provider
Many hosting providers offer the ability to back up your website and download it to your computer. One of the reasons I recommend BlueHost as a WordPress hosting provider to my friends and clients, is that they have a nice backup capability that you can run. It is a manual process, but it backs up all of your WordPress sites and databases. Ideally though, we want an automated process.
One plugin that I’ve been using for a while and really like, is WP-DB-Backup. It’s a nice tool because you can schedule it to backup your WordPress database automatically, and email a copy to you. For example, if you update your blog every week, just schedule this plugin to do a backup for you.
But this plugin does not back up everything you need. It only backs up your WordPress database files, and as I mentioned above, you’re going to want to back up your files as well.
VaultPress looks very promising. This is the only truly complete solution available that I know of. But it is only in a limited beta right now, and it will cost $$ if you can get in.
VaultPress will back up everything mentioned above: your database, your theme files, plugins and your uploaded content. And it performs the backups continuously. There is even a premium version that will perform security scans on your blog.
I’m testing it now on my primary site. The only problem is the pricing: they’ve set it to be $15 per month per blog that you want to back up. And the security scan is an upgrade to that, weighing in at $40 per month per site. This pricing is out of range for many people if you have multiple blogs that you want to back up.
Anyway, this is a good solution to watch. I’ll keep you posted on how it works out for me, and hopefully they will do something to make the pricing more attractive if you have multiple blogs you want to back up.
wp Time Machine Plugin
I just discovered this plugin, and it looks very good. wp Time Machine will help you back up your WordPress database, your entire wp-content directory (including themes and plugins), and your .htaccess file.
The only challenge is that it can be a little technical to set up, especially if you want to schedule the backups to happen automatically. The plugin provides a script for this, but it is up to you to set up a CRON job to kick off the backups.
Still this is an impressive plugin, and I’m using it on one of my sites now. I look forward to seeing how this plugin develops over time. I’ll keep you posted on how it works out for me.
Conclusion – Start Your Backups!
So after reading this, I hope you will take action and start backing up your WordPress website or blog right away. The options are growing in number and sophistication, so I’m optimistic that it will get easier to keep your content safe and secure as time goes on.
If nothing else, just set up the WP-DB-Backup plugin on a schedule so you have a backup of your content at the very least.
If you have a good backup solution that I’ve missed here, please share it in the comments below!
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