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how to backup on WordPress

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It’s vital to backup your WordPress site regularly, so you always have a recent version you can reinstate if the worst happens.

what is a WordPress backup?

A backup is an exact copy of your WordPress website files and content.

Having a backup means that if your site ever gets hacked, infected with a virus or encounters other major problems, you can overcome these issues by reinstating the latest version.

Without a backup, you could lose all your site data and need to rebuild everything from scratch. You might also be without a live website for a significant period of time – meaning you’ll be losing traffic and potential business.

when to backup on WordPress

There’s no set rule about when to backup your WordPress site.

The more regularly you backup then generally the less data you’ll lose if your site ever crashes or gets infected. This is because any changes/additions made since the last backup won’t have been saved and therefore can’t be reinstated.

We recommend always backing-up before upgrading your WordPress site or adding any new plugins or themes. These are common times when things go wrong, so it’s essential to have a recent backup ready just in case!

Otherwise, backing-up your WordPress site daily or weekly is likely to be adequate, depending on how frequently you make changes. Bear in mind that making a backup usually temporarily reduces site speed, so it’s a good idea to schedule these for during low-traffic periods (such as 2am).

We recommend always keeping at least three recent backups. These should be stored in different locations – for example, on cloud accounts, different computers, hard drives or your server. This will ensure your site can still be reinstated even if one backup fails or gets accidentally deleted.

backing-up your WordPress site

Please note that how to backup your site depends on the type of hosting you have. It’s therefore a good idea to speak to your hosting provider before following the guidelines below.

To backup, you need to copy both your WordPress website files and your database.

Your files comprise your WordPress core, plugins, themes, images and code files (such as JavaScript) – the elements which create the design and look of your website. Your database contains your content – the text, blogs, pages etc on your site.

1. Backing-up your WordPress files

There are a two main options for backing-up your WordPress website files. You can:

  • Copy files yourself using FTP or shell access
  • Or, ask your hosting provider to give you a copy of your files

2. Backing-up your WordPress database

The easiest way to backup your WordPress website database is using phpMyAdmin. This can be done either via your hosting provider or through a control panel:

  • Plesk: Go to ‘Websites & Domains’ and click the ‘Open’ button next to the correct wp_database
  • Ensim: Click the MySQL Admin logo and choose ‘MySQL Administration Tool’ under ‘Configuration’
  • cPanel: Find the MySQL logo on your control panel, and click through to MySQL Databases
  • Direct Admin: click the ‘MySQL Management’ button on your account page
  • vDeck: Select ‘Host Manager’ and then ‘Databases’ in your control panel, and then choose ‘Admin’

Once you’ve reached phpMyAdmin, click on ‘Databases’. Find the database that holds your WordPress data (the one you created when installing WordPress) and click on it. This will take you to the ‘Structure’ tab. Next, click ‘Export’ and then ‘Go’ to save the database to your preferred location.

automatic WordPress backups

If you’d rather schedule automatic WordPress backups, there are a number of ways to do this:

  • Via your WordPress agency – their service is likely to include regular backups as well as help restoring your site from a backup if needed
  • Using a backup plugin – we recommend UpdraftPlus as it’s free, reliable and highly-rated; with a plugin, you’re in total control over when backups are made and how they’re stored
  • Via your hosting provider – many include full, daily backups of WordPress sites as part of their packages

need help?

If you’d like help with backups or any other aspect of WordPress website management, please get in touch or sign up for our on-demand WordPress maintenance services. We also have lots more tips in our Ultimate WordPress Optimisation Guide and other WordPress blogs.