One of the most important things that you can do when first setting up your site is to put in place automatic backups for your blog. There’s nothing worse than having your site go down, or having a host with a disk failure, and you not having a backup of your WordPress database and site files. It will only take one scare for you to realize just how important this is. If you don’t backup you could potentially lose hundreds or thousands of posts, customized theme files, photos, plugins and more!
Why You Need To Backup
Your blog took a lot of hard work to get up and running, and to build up over the long months and years. Backing up your site is just an insurance policy against losing your valuable property – your site. Why might you need to backup – what might cause a need for restoring your site?
- You get hacked: This is one of the more common reasons I’ve seen that people need to revert to a backup copy of their site. They find out that their site has been hacked and malicious code inserted into their database. Once they figure out at what point the hack was implemented, they can restore to a backup from before that date.
- Upgrade gone wrong: Sometimes a WordPress upgrade or plugin update will cause a problem, and the site files or database might become corrupted. Having a backup means you’ll have something to go back to.
- Host Errors: I just read one horror story of a woman who didn’t have a backup, and her host “accidentally canceled her account”. She lost her entire site. Make sure you have insurance against the stupidity of someone who might accidentally flip a switch somewhere on the interwebs.
What Should I Backup For My Site?
There are a few main things that you should consider backing up.
- WordPress database: Always make a backup of your database. It contains all your posts, comments, settings and more.
- WordPress plugin: You’ll want to make sure that you download and backup all of your WordPress plugins, so that you can easily re-upload them.
- WordPress themes: Most serious bloggers have a custom theme or framework that they run their sites on. Backing that up is critical.
- User Images and Files(wp-content folder): You’ll want to make sure to backup all of your user created content and uploads. That includes images, videos, etc found in your wp-content folder.
How Often Should I Backup My Site?
You should be backing your site up as often as you think it is needed. Personally I back the site up as often as I post on the site.
If I post daily on a particular site, I backup the database every day as well. If I post weekly, I backup weekly.
As far as site files, they tend not to change as often, and I’ll usually only backup the site files on a weekly basis.
Another time you should always do a backup is right before you do an upgrade or update of the WordPress core files. Things sometimes go wrong during that process, and having a backup in case something does go wrong is important.
WordPress Backup Plugins To Make It Easy
Trying to set up a backup for your site can be a bit intimidating. Luckily these days backing up your WordPress site and database is easier than ever. There are quite a few plugins available for WordPress that will allow you schedule a regular backup of your database or your site files – or both.
Here are some of the backup plugins I think are the best that I’ve used. My current favorite is Backup Buddy for it’s ease of use and reliability.
- Backup Buddy: Scheduled backups for all your data, posts, files, media, themes, & more. Basically, it backs up everything! It’s a premium plugin, however, and a license for 2 sites is $75. Be sure to find a coupon code, and read my full Backup Buddy review.
- WordPress Database Backup: This is the main database backup plugin that I use. You can set it up to do scheduled database backups to be sent to your email address, as well as a ton of options to include or exclude parts of the database. You can also do manual database backups before doing an upgrade or something along those lines. Backs up the database only.
- WordPress Backup: I just discovered this plugin which allows you to back up your site’s plugins, theme files and uploads directory. In other words, most of the site files you would need in case of a catastrophe. Good to be used in conjunction with a database backup plugin. I’m using this now in conjunction with WordPress Database Backup. Backs up site files only.
- WP-DBManager: Another good database backup plugin that a lot of folks use. Tons of options for backing up, optimizing and repairing your database. More of a swiss army knife type database plugin.
- BackWPup: Another all-in-one backup solution that allows you to schedule a backup your database, site files or schedule regular optimization of your database. I’ve just started testing this one, but if it works as advertised it should be pretty cool, and could possibly replace the two plugins I’m currently using.
- Automatic WordPress Backup: Another plugin that backs up everything including your database, site files, and more to an Amazon S3 server. Storage space at Amazon will cost, but it’s pretty reasonable and very reliable.
So those are the main backup plugins that I would recommend. There are others available, but the ones above are among the best in my opinion.
NOTE: Always keep several backups of your database and site files. I keep a copy of my site files on each of my home computers, as well as zipped and sent to my gmail account, and on an online backup service. My database is backed up and emailed to my gmail account daily, while I also download a copy of the database every week or so. The key here is to keep several copies in different locations, just in case.
Your Host May Offer Automatic Backups As Well
Most website hosts will provide some sort of software to backup your site. Check with your host to find out what services and programs they provide. For mine, I just went into the hosting control panel, and there was an option there to setup a backup.
It should be noted, however, you probably won’t want this to be your only option – just in case your host makes an error and deletes your account, or there is a disk error or other hosting mishap. Always keep a backup separate from your hosting account.
Backing up your site is one of the more important things you can do when first setting up your site. It will ensure that you don’t lose all of the fruits of your hard labor if the worst case scenario happens. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you might think.
Make sure you backup, and backup often! Otherwise you could be in for a world of trouble!
How do you backup your site? Do you use one of the plugins above, or do you prefer to do it manually? How often do you backup? (or do you not backup at all – hoping that nothing will happen?) Tell us in the comments!