Boring Backups: Backup WordPress or Else

Backup WordPress
Do you think talking about backups is a boring topic? Yeah, I kind of do as well. Do you backup your website? Why or why not? What if you got hacked? What if a plugin failed? What if you deleted something crucial (or someone else did)? What if … Do you have a website backup? Can you restore it? What would be the process? How would you do it?

In this post, we will discuss what different kinds of ways one can do backups for self-hosted WordPress. If you are on WordPress.com, they do the backups for you. Then again, they also own your site. So if WordPress.com shuts you down, oh, well. You also have fewer options on WordPress.com – but that is a topic for another post (See this post on Why Self-Hosted WordPress). This is for those who pay for a domain and web hosting for their WordPress sites – that’s called self-hosting.

Database Backups and Complete Backups with Files

When you backup WordPress, there are basically two different methods. One backups up just your database, but not any of your files (including your theme files and your images). The other method is more complete – a complete backup backs up everything, files and database as well. This would include your theme files – and if you have custom theme code, you will especially want a backup of the theme files.

If you just have a backup of your database, at least you have something. So please give yourself a pat on the back for that. In case of emergency, however, what would you do with it? You could re-install WordPress, import the database backup, reconfigure the WordPress so it looks at your new import, use a default theme temporarily, see if you can get a copy of your previous theme, hunt for your images … can you do all that? See, it’s not so simple. But at least you would be able to get started with something. If your site has mostly text and/or you have the images on your current computer, you can recover a lot.

But if you are a business, you probably want a better recovery system. A good backup system will backup on a schedule and to an external server. Why do you want it external to your website? Well, if something happens to your website, your backups will go down or get infected or might get damaged as well. There are several choices, and we will review those as we look at backup plugins.

WordPress Backup Plugins – Review

There are a lot of backup plugins, but in this post we will only look at a few.

WP-DBManager – This plugin is free, and it also does some optimizing of your database. It only backs up your database. Also, it needs a little configuring. I find when there is a plugin update, sometimes you have to reconfigure your WP-DBManager. I have been using this plugin for years. If the database is not too big, you can have it emailed to you, which is a nice option for getting an external backup done automatically. I once used a database copy from this plugin to examine a site and figure out why the database was so huge (and other issues). There is a related plugin called WP-DB-Backup.

VaultPress – I use VaultPress for one client. VaultPress is easy to use and easy to set up. It is also a pricier choice, but you do get VaultPress service. It is connected to your WordPress.com account, so you have to log in there to see your stats and backups (which I do find a little annoying). But it does show you the list of your latest backups on your own site. It now has a plan that comes with added protection for your site, so that is a nice plus. VaultPress works well with WordPress multisite (but you need to pay for each site of multisite separately).

BackupBuddy – I have had quite a bit of experience now with Backup Buddy. When it works, it works great. You have a choice of external destinations such as Amazon AWS3, DropBox or the iThemes Stash site. It is easy to see what it is backing up and to set options. If you do have a problem, you can contact the iThemes forum, and they will respond (seems like within 24 hours) to your issue. If you want to try it out, contact me and I can give you a lower price than the listed prices. Also, if there are any issues, I can help you figure out how to get the plugin to work for your site.

UpDraftPlus – I have only used UpDraft Plus a little. It seems to be growing in popularity. I did find on one site in which I was having issues, both BackupBuddy and and UpDraft Plus had the same issues. Since the basic version is free, it is worth trying out before picking a paid backup solution.

Your Turn, Please

Have you used any backup plugins? Which one? Did you like the plugin? Did you find any issues? Were you able to solve them?

If you would like to have Backup Buddy installed on your site (starting cost at $30/year, depends on your site), please contact me.

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37 thoughts on “Boring Backups: Backup WordPress or Else

  1. Leora — I use Backup Buddy which is stored on Amazon. It’s comforting to receive an email every day that tells me BB has backed up my site. My webmaster will look at my backups periodically to see if all is well. It is definitely not a good idea to rely on your website host company’s backup, as I learned to my regret a few years ago. BB is an iThemes plugin so I like to think they have skin in the game to ensure that it is working correctly and updated when necessary.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Have You Refreshed Your Social Media Accounts Lately?My Profile

  2. I switched to Backup Buddy at the end of 2014 and I’m really glad I did just because I feel confident the back-ups are happening regularly and I have a place to go if I do need help. Thanks for this great review of options!

  3. You ask some great questions Leora as most of us probably think about this until the site is gone. Kind of like losing your credit card and not knowing who to ring to cancel it because the number to call is on the credit card. Thanks for this reminder.
    Tim recently posted…Scottish TelevisionMy Profile

  4. Leora, I use the backup buddy that is a wp plugin but if I had a crash of my site I would have no idea what to do with it. I guess after reading this, I’m going to have to do some research. I know it goes to Amazon but that’s it. Posts like yours are so important because it let’s us know what is important. Thanks.
    Lenie recently posted…10 Offbeat Uses For Toothpaste.My Profile

    1. Erica, VaultPress is a good choice. Read a little about “restore” – here’s the VaultPress page for that: http://help.vaultpress.com/manual-restore/
      There’s also a 1-click version (but I would be more comfortable with manual).

      If your web host is doing backups as well, in case of emergency you might want to call them for a help. That is, if you have confidence in their support. They should be able to help with a restore (assuming you are a web host with decent support).
      Leora Wenger recently posted…Boring Backups: Backup WordPress or ElseMy Profile

  5. Hello Leora

    It is great advice to have backup of site. I never thought about it before. My blog is on blogspot and one I just have on wordpress(free). I try to download WP-DBManager but there is no setup in zip file that I can run. I am sorry to ask such question but I am not in technology at all.
    How can we run this free plugin.
    Secondly, from few days my wordpress is telling me you have 22 posts on it now… Is there any limit for free wordpress?
    Thank you for a great post.
    andleeb recently posted…Visit to International Book Fair: #RiyadhMy Profile

    1. If you are just using your web host as your backup solution, you are taking a bit of a chance. You might be fine, or you might not. I would at least start with a free backup solution of some sort. Personally, if it’s a business, it’s worthwhile to pay a little extra for a good backup solution. Just in case.
      Leora Wenger recently posted…Boring Backups: Backup WordPress or ElseMy Profile

    1. Beth, it’s good that you are using paid themes (although those value in quality as well). The default themes are free, and those are fine.

      Maybe you mean you moved off WordPress.com? That’s where you can’t use plugins. You can use plugins with a paid or a free theme on self-hosted WordPress.
      Leora Wenger recently posted…New Website: Coming Soon Page?My Profile

  6. Hi Leora,
    I use both WP-DBManager and BackupBuddy. As you said, the optimize feature in WP-DBManager is great and so easy to use. While BackupBuddy is a premium plugin, I feel it’s a worthwhile investment. The scheduling and automatically sending it to Amazon AWS3 helps give me peace of mind.

    Thanks for a much needed reminder that we need to backup both our SQL database and our entire website. Now, I’m off to share.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Are You Confused about Google’s New Ranking Signal?My Profile

  7. I just read an older post about WordPress security and commented about backing up and then I came across this post. Great advice for anyone using WordPress and thankfully most of the options you mention and reliable and fairly simple for the non-techy!
    Caroline recently posted…Hackable Cars: Overhyped?My Profile

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