Everyone has a data loss horror story. “I was right in the middle of finishing that report when my computer crashed—I lost everything!” Or, more relevant to the WordPress using set, “I was installing plugin/theme/update X and it broke my site. Now I can’t get my old information back no matter how hard I try!”
A real problem to be sure. But it’s one that can be easily prevented. In fact, there are countless backup plugins available that make keeping a copy of your site’s data on hand extraordinarily simple. That’s what I’m going to talk about in detail today—the more than just a handful of plugins out there that make backing up your site and all of its related information as simple as “set it and forget it.”
What About Manual Backups?
Some people prefer to do manual backups and who am I to argue? In fact, they can be very useful, too, because you have direct control over what’s backed up and what isn’t. Many plugins let you toggle on and off the backing up of specific files or directories but the manual approach gives you total control.
It’s also a good way to absolutely ensure your backup solution is working. It’s never a bad idea to do a manual backup every once in a while and compare it to your most recent automated backup. Do they match? If not, your automated solution might have skipped a scheduled backup day and that would be a real problem if you’d just written the best-blog-post-ever and suddenly suffered data loss!
The WordPress Codex offers in-depth instructions for how to backup your site manually, so if that’s the route you want to take, I highly suggest you read them and get familiar with the process.
WordPress Backup Rules to Follow
No matter what kind of backup solution you use, there are a few rules you should abide by, no ifs, ands, or buts!
- Always backup your site’s database before you install a new upgrade.
- Adjust your backup schedule based on your site update and blogging frequency.
- As with backing up any data, keep three backups in three different forms and/or places. The WordPress Codex suggests keeping a database backup in your email account, on an external hard drive, and on a DVD.
- Only backup those plugins that contain value for your site. Spam filter and stat plugins add major bloat to your database and can enlarge the size of your backup files significantly.
- Perform a manual backup on occasion to act as a failsafe for any automated backup solution you’re using.
Following these rules to the letter will help ensure your backups are successful and that you never have to worry about losing your info again.
Now, without further adieu, here’s a healthy list of backup plugins to help you prevent losing information and to always keep your site up and live.
BackupBuddy is a backup plugin made by iThemes that offers a comprehensive solution for WordPress site owners. It lets you back up to a variety of sources, not just your hard drive, including Stash, Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, Rackspace, FTP, and email. Backups are completed quickly and easily thanks to push button solutions. Just pick where you want your backups to be stored and how frequently you want them to occur and you’re good to go.
It is a premium plugin, however, so you will need to open your wallet for this one. You can expect to pay an annual fee of $80 to backup two sites, $100 to backup 10 sites, and $150 to backup an unlimited number of sites. There’s also BackupBuddy Gold, which lets you backup unlimited sites, receive a lifetime of updates, and a year of ticketed support for $297.
Another good backup option—that’s also completely free—is UpdraftPlus. This plugin is very straightforward and doesn’t overwhelm you with a bunch of unnecessary features, which I like. Like BackupBuddy, it supports backups to Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, FTP, and email, but it also works with Google Drive, OpenStack, and several other storage solutions.
Beyond these features, it also offers database encryption for an added level of security. Plus, you can split very large sites into several archives to make backups quicker. And should you ever need to restore from a backup, this split archive method makes that process go faster as well.
UpdraftPlus is also available as a premium plugin, which includes all the features I already mentioned plus several add-on features like automatic backups, a site migrator, reporting, no advertisements, support for additional backup locations, and more. You also get a year of support and a year of updates. You can expect to pay between $60 and $125 for UpdraftPlus Premium.
BackUpWordPress is another very popular plugin that lets you back up your WordPress site automatically. It includes scheduling so you can create a different schedule for your files and your database. It’s easy to set up and user-friendly.
However, if you want to store your backups any place other than your hard drive or email, you’ll need to purchase an extension. BackUpWordPress offers extensions for individual cloud storage services including Google Drive and Dropbox. Or, you can buy the bundle and feel confident in knowing you can backup your site whenever and wherever you want to.
Though technically a site migration plugin, Duplicator also works as a backup solution. It’s not as straightforward as some of the other plugins I’ve mentioned here and it requires some technical knowledge to use properly.
Duplicator offers the most basic backup options and you can’t schedule automatic backups in advance, which is a real drawback in my opinion. Still, if you want to migrate your site, this might serve as a dual-purpose solution in the interim.
We’ve covered VaultPress here at Elegant Themes quite extensively in the past, so I’m not going to get into too much detail here. However, I will say that since it’s a backup solution that was developed by the folks behind WordPress—Automattic—it carries some significant clout. And for good reason. You can set it up to perform automatic backups of your site each day. You can also restore from these backups easily and download them whenever you want.
Pricing starts at $5 per month.
A freebie plugin that’s worth taking note of is BackWPup, which makes it pretty straightforward to backup your WordPress site without having to shell out a penny. It can backup to your hard drive, FTP, or email but it also works with cloud storage like Dropbox and Rackspace.
You can schedule automatic backups, restore from backups, and you can even upgrade to BackWPup Pro if you wish to get further support, Google Drive support, and a few other bells and whistles.
If you ever find yourself only needing to backup your WordPress database, then WP-DB-Backup is the perfect plugin solution for you. For starters, it’s free. Plus, it has a pretty solid reputation, having seen over two million downloads since its initial launch.
This can be a good option for those who don’t update their sites very often or who don’t use images in their blog posts. You can schedule database backups, restore from backups, and it even offers a way to perform a manual database backup just in case you can’t get into phpMyAdmin.
Another free plugin you might want to try is WordPress Backup for Dropbox. This is obviously only a solution for those that currently or would like to use Dropbox but it performs this function pretty flawlessly. You can schedule backups to automatically upload to your Dropbox account. You can backup your database and files. A few premium extensions are available too but none offer a restore from backup feature, unfortunately.
If you want to make sure your backups are safe and secure, Online Backup for WordPress is still another free plugin option. It actually encrypts your backup data so that it is secure when being transferred during uploads and downloads. It maintains a backup of your database and files that can be sent to either your email, a folder on your site’s server, or one of Backup Technology’s data centers, which offer 100MB of free storage space.
You can set up daily or weekly backups, download these backups via zip file whenever you want, select which files you specifically want to backup, exclude spam comments from backups, and more.
The last plugin I’ll mention here today is Snapshot. Described as “Time Machine for your WordPress site,” this plugin lets you take quick snapshots of any aspect of your site to save for later and store them wherever you want.
When you decide you want to save a version of your site, just press the “Create a Snapshot” button. This will capture your site as it is at that particular moment and should you want to restore from this version you can with the press of a single button. You can schedule these backups if you want and you can save your files to Dropbox, Amazon S3, or SFTP.
This plugin costs $40 by itself or $19.60 per month as a part of a WPMU DEV membership.
Backing up your site regularly is important. Actually, backing up all of your data is important. I mean, we should all be backing up our phones, our hard drives, and our email accounts, as well. Hopefully, you’re already doing all of that. And with the right plugin to handle the job for you automatically, you can get your WordPress site squared away, too.
How do you backup your site? Do you take the manual approach? Do you use one of the plugins mentioned here? Something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Article thumbnail image by Tarchyshnik Andrei / shutterstock.com
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