Website Checklists and Blog Backup Plans

website checklist

Just in case. Nothing is ever going to happen to your shiny new website, or is it? Will the blog you have built for the past five years suddenly develop … a problem? Nah. You can go back and stick your head in the sand or eat some more cherries by the pool.

For the rest of us, it’s a good idea to develop a website checklist. This is by no means set in stone – you are free to make your own suggestions on what should be on this list in the comments. This is the kind of list you might want to complete and save some place safe, for that “just in case” type of situation.

Website Checklist – A List To Complete, Just in Case

Why a Website Checklist?

What sorts of things could go wrong? I don’t want to scare you (or maybe I do? lightly so you will recover and then get prepared), but you could: get hacked, have a plugin go bad, have a bloated database that won’t open, have web host problems or just want to transfer your site or combine it with another. Maybe you decided to “fix” or change something on your site on your own, and it didn’t go so well so you need to fix the site, quickly. As in the rest of our lives, taking precautions by having a checklist might even help you avoid some of these problems, because you might realize, for example, your password is so weak it’s inviting the hackers.

So what would you add to this list?

website checklist - do you know who your web host is?  Where are your backups?
And just in case you feel like pinning this post to Pinterest, why not use this big version of the graphic? (Thanks to those who pin, and thanks to Ashley Faulkes for writing about Pinterest).

42 Responses to “Website Checklists and Blog Backup Plans”

  1. Jason B says:

    Great list. I will be using it.

  2. It’s funny, but I actually do this. It is the only way I know to insure I don’t forget something… LOL. What I will do is send this to others who could benefit form you advice. :-)

  3. Pamela Heady says:

    I do this too! When I started my blog I bought a spiral that I wrote everything down in…any pertinent information that I might need as well as journal type notes of changes and edits I have made the the site. I include the usernames and passwords for every account related to my site, the order of widgets in my sidebar, cmyk color codes, bits of code and dates and times of when I post questions on support pages. It becomes my blog Bible if you will.

    Your checklist is a mandatory! I hope more people will realize that a little bit of planning can save SO MUCH later in the event that something goes haywire! Thanks for reminding us all!

  4. Diana says:

    oh, i do have all of the checklist items all over the place and while i do know where to find what, it is an excellent idea to stay organized and actually have a checklist! thanks, Leora, for the enlightening post ;-)

    Reading your post – something else comes to mind, somewhat related. When you mentioned backups, having pictures and all, knowing how to restore your blog in case of an “emergency” – i have always wondered… once i tried (and somewhat succeeded) downloading my site on a local host – to experiment with some new themes, trying to decide what to use and how to improve. But then i noticed that although i generated and imported a full backup through my cpanel, when i imported the site to my local host – it imported all the content (incl. comments), but there were no plugins along with it :-( i read a lot, i think i tried everything i could think of but i could replicate *exactly* (like duplicate) my website… any tips why and how to do it?

    Feel free not to answer my question here but blog about it if it is a valid question (as it seems to be a big one, at last to me LOL).

    • Leora Wenger says:

      A short answer is use a program like Backup Buddy to backup everything. Of course, this one has a cost. Here’s the description: “Back up your entire WordPress installation. Widgets, themes, plugins, files and SQL database – the entire package! Just like your laptop or desktop computer, you should be doing regular backups of your website. ”

      There are other plugins, but they vary in what they do. There was one I tried because it was highly recommended, and then when I used it, it failed. So much for that.

      I didn’t want the post to be all about different backup options.

      I usually re-install the plugins again, one by one. The database (it should, anyway) saves how you set up the plugin for your site. Or there is a folder that does this. It depends on the plugin.

      For images, you can download your uploads file to your pc. This is where automated backup comes in handy – you don’t want to have to do this too often. Mine are already on my pc, because that’s where they started.

  5. My OCD side likes this. I need to back up and organize everything a bit more. We have been talking about getting a back up hard drive in place to protect all my important computer work. The blogs would be part of that work that goes to the back up as well.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      I have two external hard drives! I do that because I want multiple copies of my photos.

      Sometimes I think I should follow my own advice and have a better system for backups. In the past, when a family computer has failed, we have lost files. I’ve never lost my most important stuff, because of that I always have backups. Sometimes data loss is a way of cleaning house around here. Or teaching someone to make more than one copy of what is most important.

  6. Judy Haar says:

    I do exactly what you are suggesting, great list.

  7. Thankfully my provider backs up my site, though I pay for access. It cane in handy. I learned to use that check list the hard way. I hope the folks reading this never have to know the pain in NOT using your checklist. Excellent post:)

  8. Susan Oakes says:

    Good list Leora and I use Backup Buddy. While it is a cost it is worth the peace of mind that my website is backed up properly and can be restored easily.

  9. Jeevan Jacob John says:

    Well, this is certainly helpful :)

    I haven’t launched by blog yet (For that matter, I haven’t even bought a domain yet). But, these are questions I need to keep in mind.

    I haven’t really thought about backup (I was thinking of exploring it after I setup by blog). I have got to look into backup plugins (I don’t remember the name of the plugin I used on my old blogs. I think it was WP-Backup).

    Anyways, thanks for the heads up, Leora :)

    • Leora Wenger says:


      The plugin I have used for many years is called WP-DB Manager. It only backups the database. You can set it to optimize your database automatically. You can also set it to email you a database backup, which I store in my Google Account.

      There are other plugins as well. Watch the ratings on the ones that you try.

  10. Arleen says:

    My hosting company backs up my site every night. However I am on a private server. Where do you back up wordpress? Is there something in wordpress already installed to backup the site? Is it automatic or do you have to do it manually?

  11. I, too, use Backup Buddy. I personally wouldn’t rely on your blog host. If their server is down or corrupted you would be in big trouble. The service from my host, Hostgator, which used to be so reliable, has gone down drastically. I’m switching as soon as I can. Server is down to often and my website is loading like molasses. Better to have two backup systems.

  12. TheGirl says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time, as I am currently re-designing someone else’s website. They are using WordPress, but it’s self hosted, so its different from the one I have. Luckily I back-up everything with WordPress’s back up widget, but I want to change the theme and such…

  13. Jeri says:

    I did accidentally delete my site not too long ago, but the BlueHost people got it up and running. Like I mentioned earlier, this post served as a reminder to check my backup plugin. I hadn’t checked it for over a month. Turns out it was doing the database backup, but not all of the files associated with the site. Now I have it working again. When I’m on the ball, I do save a download of my entire site for just in case moments. Theoretically, I could probably restore my site, but my husband can accomplish it much faster than I. I wonder how many bloggers don’t ever back-up their site?

    • Leora Wenger says:


      Glad to read BlueHost helped you out, since I was the one who suggested you move to BlueHost! And glad you were able to work out the issues. Sounds like the hubby is good support, too.

  14. Well before my webmaster moved me I know with certainty that everything was backed up daily. This post, thanks Leora, reminds me to ask her if that is still routine. I know daily backup is a must!

  15. Atish Ranjan says:

    Great post. These are basic checklists which every blogger should keep in mind. Luckily I do all. Backups are very necessary. Once at my office, a client’s business blog has been hacked, we just restored it with backup. That saves us.


  16. Hey Leora, I must say I am not as prepared as your list, but I have been making sure my backup is in order lately. I have been playing with a few backups and they mail to my gmail, which does not like such big files, so I am trying another plugin that sends to dropbox. Which reminds me it ran at 5am this morning so i better go check how it went!

    • Leora Wenger says:

      I use mail to Gmail, and Gmail is fine with the size. But that’s in part because I don’t use Gmail for other attachments – clients send files to a different account. I delete the old files every now and then.

      Some programs gzip the files, making them smaller.

      My DropBox is full with photo backups – no room for me there, unless I pay.

  17. Cheryl says:

    This is a great check list! Being the geek that I am I have this already in place.

    BTW – I only just received the notice of this post today.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Cheryl, glad you are already “checked” on these items.

      The email notices go out once per week, on Wednesday mornings. Since I published this last Wednesday, it took a week for the email to be sent. RSS feeds are as published instead of weekly.

  18. Catarina says:

    Great list Leora.

    My sites are backed-up and, so far so good. Like Jeannette I would not rely on the hosting provider since their servers can have problems. So I use a plug-in.

  19. This is a great list Leora! I maintain this info and it is so handy to have it in one place. The other thing that I di us keep a spreadsheet for each domain that I manage. When I upgrade a plugin, I track the versions that I’m upgrading from and too. That way, if something does go whacky with a site, I can tell at a glance which plugin could be the culprit. By keeping track of the version, I know which release was stable. This has helped me out more than once.

  20. One of my on-line buddies lost her whole site out of the blue. I can’t think of anything more depressing. All that work and energy, gone in a blink. The thing is, the comments are what makes the posts come to life, so when you lose the site, you lose a lot more than your writing. Thanks for the reminder and nudge. As I look at moving my site to a self-hosted one I’m going to have to take extra care. Definitely pinning this post. :)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Debra, key is to do backups, and best to do two kinds of backups, with an automated backup mailed to you regularly a good idea. You can read in the comments what others recommend.

  21. Becc says:

    I don’t have my head around this properly. I do know I have a back up and thankfully know the two people who have all the answers for me, but I really should know more and will revisit this post to ensure I have it all covered.

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