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How to Backup Your WordPress Site & Protect Yourself From Disaster

Why you should back up, how you should back up and what backing up your site can do for you.

If you have a blog or a WordPress website that is part of your business, then it’s likely that your website will be important to you, especially if you generate income from it.

But some issues can cause your website to fail, and when it does, it can often mean the end of a website. All of the hard work you’ve put into building and growing your site can be gone in an instant.

From day to day managing of your website, you may accidentally do something that can break your website, such as:

  • Configure something incorrectly
  • Delete an important file
  • Install or update a plugin which is buggy or causes errors

Even worse, your site might experience one of the following

  • A hacker attack 
  • Malware infection

Although these events are rare, they do happen. These issues can result in the loss of files or damage to the database, which runs the website or just simply lock you out from the site.

Backing Up Your WordPress Website

These are the reasons why you need to make sure you backup your WordPress website.

By backing up your website, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your website will never be lost, no matter what happens. A good hosting provider can provide you with some limited form of backup, but this may be just simple file backups.

Your WordPress site runs primarily from a database, so it is important to not rely solely on your host and to run your own backups.

After all, it is your responsibility to protect your website, and backing up your site is the best thing you can do when it comes to securing your website.

When you have recent backups of your website, you can quickly and easily restore your website in the event of any kind of failure, bringing your website back to as it was at the time of the last backup.

It is also important to take regular backups, as even a recent backup may not be recent enough if your website gets updated daily. 

If your website is part of your business and handles things like customer orders, then it is especially important to backup so that these orders are not lost.

If you’re not already backing up your website, then some great WordPress backup solutions are worth exploring.

Backup types

There are different types of backups that you can do. Knowing the differences can help you be more efficient in how you handle your backups.

Manual backups

Manual backups are backups that you perform manually as and when you choose. You’ll normally do these backups when you visit your WordPress dashboard.

Simply click on the backup button within your backup plugins options.

This is handy if you ever need to perform one-off backups, but also, if you have a small website that doesn’t get updated very often, then you can quite simply backup at any time of your choosing.

Automatic scheduled backups

Automatic backups are backups that you schedule within the settings of your backup plugin. You can schedule these to run every hour, every day, every week or even every month. When the schedule runs, the backup will start automatically. Once finished, the backup file will be stored wherever you configured it to be saved to.

Full backups

Full backups typically backup your full website. This comprises of all of the files that make up your site, including the WordPress files, all of your images, pdf files – everything. It also backs up your WordPress database. 

The WordPress database is the engine that runs your WordPress website. This is where your text is stored, menu items, configuration settings for your site, plugins, and more.

Database backups

The option of carrying out a database only backup means that only your database will be backed up and none of the files from your website.

The advantage of this type of backup is when your files rarely change. There isn’t any significant benefit from backing up your website files each time you do a backup if the files that make up your website don’t change very often.

This will only use up your site resources. It can slow your site down temporarily when you are running a backup and use up more storage space. Database only backups are quick to run and use little resources and storage space.

It is also quicker and easier to restore a database than it is to restore a whole website.

File backups

File backups are simply backups of all of the files of your website without the database. This is the opposite of database only backups. So if you rarely add new content to your website but you are more frequently adding or changing files on your website, then this may be a more efficient version of backups.

You can choose to backup all of the files on your webspace, or individual directories, or even just individual files.

Incremental backups

Rather than taking full backups, Incremental backups only backup the things that have changed since the last backup. Meaning your site will always be backed up as you go, without backing up the same files that have already been backed up.

This reduces the storage needs and also uses fewer resources to run, meaning your website won’t slow down for your readers while it is performing backups.

Where are backup files stored?

There are several options for where to store your backups, and sometimes it is best to store them in more than one location for the best form of safety.

On your website space

This is the simplest form of backups but the least safe. We do not recommend this option, but it is an option that needs mentioning. Running a backup on your website with the finished backup file being stored somewhere within your webspace is fine for having a backup file that can be used in the event of a general issue.

If your website is hacked or suffers from a malware infection, or if the whole server is inaccessible for some reason then you will not be able to access a safe backup to use.

Therefore it is best to store backups elsewhere.

In the Cloud

Storing your backups in the cloud is the ideal choice, as they are stored on secure servers provided by companies such as Dropbox, Amazon, and others.

You don’t need to interact with the backup process, your website will simply carry out the backup. Once it is completed, it will securely send the backup file to your choice of cloud provider, which will store these backup files within your account.

There is no need to download the backup and upload it to the cloud, as it is automatically done for you.

Should you ever need to restore the backup you can either do this directly from the cloud or download it to your computer first.

On your computer

Downloading backup files to your computer means that you don’t have to pay for a cloud storage provider, which is good for when you need to keep costs down.

But if your website suffers a failure, you need to be able to quickly access the backup files, which means you need to have access to your computer. You also need to make sure that the backup files you are saving to your computer are safe.

The best backup plugins for WordPress

If you’re looking to backup your WordPress site, then some plugins can make the job very easy.

There are several free and paid plugins and most are easy to use.


Updraftplus is one of the most popular WordPress backup plugins and is used by over 2 million websites. This plugin ranks a review score of 4.9 out of 5 and lets you take full manual and automatic scheduled backups.

You can download the backups to your computer or save and store them in the cloud with dropbox, google drive or Amazon S3. You can even have the backup files sent to your email.

There is the option to either backup your whole website, just the database, or just the files. You can even simply just backup certain files only.

You can restore any backup at any time with just a couple of clicks, right from within your WordPress dashboard.

UpdraftPlus is available in free and premium versions.

The premium version of UpdraftPlus has add-ons that help you migrate your website to another host and clone a site, so you have a duplicate version running elsewhere. Many other great features including priority support when you need it which can be helpful when you have a disaster.


Vaultpress is part of the Jetpack WordPress plugin suite, which we always rave about.

For just $3.50 per month, VaultPress will handle the backups of your website automatically with real-time incremental backups to the cloud, meaning they save while you edit.

Vaultpress also allows you to easily restore backups with just a few clicks and offers one-click file repair, meaning you can fix any damage quickly.

Backup Buddy

Backup Buddy is a great plugin that prides itself on being the original WordPress backup plugin. Backup Buddy backs up everything from the WordPress installation through to your full site, so you are guaranteed a full restoration when you need it.

Backup Buddy also has the option to do real-time backups using their Stash Live service. This service is included with the Backup Buddy 7.0+ plugin and comes with 1gb storage.

How to backup your WordPress site

For this guide, we will show you how to backup your website using UpdraftPlus as it is the most popular backup solution for WordPress.

The idea will be the same should you prefer to use a different backup plugin so you should still be able to follow through the steps.

Firstly, if you haven’t already, download UpdraftPlus from updraftplus website.

We recommend downloading the premium version as it keeps things as simple as possible and also includes advanced features such as integrated secure online storage.

Install the plugin via your WordPress dashboard. Click the plugins menu Plugins>Add Plugins.

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you are ready to configure the backups to your needs.

UpdraftPlus configuration

When you have UpdraftPlus installed, you need to configure it. This can be done by clicking Settings>UpdraftPlus from within the WordPress dashboard.

This will open the main UpdraftPlus settings page. Here you can configure the type of backups, how often they will run, and where they will be stored.

Manual Backups

If you simply want to create an instant backup with no configuration, you can simply click the Backup Now button. This will run a backup immediately.

When the backup completes, a copy will be stored on your webspace. We recommend that you now download a copy to your computer for additional safety by clicking the buttons below the backup data column. These are generally split into types of backup files such as database, plugins, themes others. Download them all for this backup and store them safely in a folder on your computer.

Set up a scheduled backup

To make things easier going forward, it is recommended that you configure a backup schedule so that you don’t have to manually backup and download your files regularly.

To do this, click on the settings tab of the UpdraftPlus page.

From here you can choose how often you would like the scheduled backups to run:

  • Every 4, 8 or 12 hours
  • Daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly

Choose a setting that is appropriate for how often you update your website. If you are updating your website once or twice a month then fortnightly would suffice. If you are updating daily or weekly, then opt for daily backups.

When you are happy with the backup settings schedule, click Save at the bottom.

Choose your remote storage

Now that you have set up a backup schedule, you can now also set up an online storage location for where your completed backups can be securely sent to.

UpdraftPlus can save your backups to many cloud services. Within the same Updraft settings screen, pick a cloud service, and it will open an area below where you can configure your settings for the cloud provider.

Each cloud service has its own setup process, but there are instructions to guide you.

We typically recommend Google Drive. Everyone with a Google account has a free 15gb allowance, which will be more than enough space for most WordPress websites.

So for this example, we will guide you through the process of setting Google Drive as your online cloud storage.

When you select Google Drive and press save, it will open up a popup.

Click the link in the popup and you will be asked to log in to your Google account. Next, you will be given the option to allow UpdraftPlus to view or manage files within your google drive storage. This means that you are allowing updraft to place backup files in your google drive storage.

When you click on allow, you will be taken to the final screen, which asks you to complete the setup. 

When you click the complete setup button, the integration between UpdraftPlus and your google drive account will be complete. You can now have peace of mind that your backups are now set up to run on your chosen schedule.

Backups that run from now on will be stored in your google drive account.

Restoring Backups

How to restore your WordPress site in the event of a disaster

If you have an unfortunate event that requires you to restore a backup, then the process of restoring a backup is fortunately quite easy.

Within the Backup/Restore tab of the updraft settings screen, you will see any previously run backups. Alternatively, if you have downloaded a backup to your computer, you can click the upload backup files link and upload a previously made backup.

To restore any particular backup, you need to choose the most recent date where you are confident that your website was functioning properly as you require it to.

Next, you need to choose what you want to restore. This comprises of:

  • Database
  • Plugins
  • Themes
  • Uploads
  • Others

What you choose to restore depends on your specific needs, but to restore your whole site, you will need to select and restore them all.

Clicking restore will open a window that guides you through the quick and easy process. Simply click restore when you are asked to.

When the restore process has completed, you will see a confirmation screen, which lets you know that the restore was successful.

What to do if you’ve got no backup

If you happen to be in the unfortunate position where your site is broken and you have no backup to restore your site to normal working order then don’t despair, all is not lost!

It can be very difficult for a non-technical user to be able to recover their website in the event of a disaster, but that doesn’t mean that you need to give up and start again.

There are WordPress experts who can resolve your issues if you’re in this situation. Whether your site is broken from misconfiguration, damaged due to hackers or whatever issue you are experiencing, then providers such as fixed.net can get you up and running very quickly.

It’s certainly worth considering if you ever run into trouble. A small fee to fix your site versus having to redo everything that you’ve done to get your site up and running could be very time consuming and costly.


We hope that we’ve helped you get a better understanding of what website backups are all about, from why you should backup to how to do it safely.

Having a good solid backup solution in place for your website is highly important. The small cost from using a backup plugin or cloud service gives you the peace of mind knowing that it is a solid investment that will protect your site in the case of a disaster.

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