Although most web hosts will backup your website for you, it’s important to perform your own website backups too. This is your ‘get out of jail free’ card if something goes horribly wrong. Don’t take backups for granted!
Why do I need to backup my WordPress website?
Backups of your website are absolutely essential. Think of these scenarios and what you’d do:
- Your website is hacked and damaged or deleted
- You accidentally delete something from your website
- You install a dodgy plugin that breaks your website
- Your web host goes bust
- Your web developer goes bust
The good news is that it’s very easy to backup your website – in fact it’s probably already being backed up automatically! Have a look at this video:
What are my options for backing up my website
Here are three options to backup your website along with some pros and cons for each:
- Automated backups from your web host – these are great BUT normally they’re not contractually guaranteed. I’ve had some very poor web hosts in the past where backups weren’t running at all and the host didn’t tell me. Backups of your files and databases should be running every day. Double check this!
- Use a backup plugin – great BUT full-site restores can get quite complicated.
- Manual backup – quite nerdy BUT probably the most reliable backup method. Not that complicated once you know how to do these.
Using your web host’s backup services
At the time of writing SiteGround offer two options for automated backups. Either standard cPanel backups or their new control panel.
Backups using SiteGround’s new control panel
Creating a custom backup is very simple. Within SiteGround’s new control panel just click the Backups option in the menu, give the backup a name and click ‘Create’:
You should also see a list of automated backups. Make sure these are running every day:
To restore a backup you just click the three little dots and choose what you want to restore:
If I wanted to roll my entire website back to a point in time I’d use the ‘Restore All Files and Databases’ option.
Backups using cPanel
If you still use cPanel you can just use the in-built ‘Backup Tool’:
Again, automated backups should be running every day. Alternatively you can create a one-off ad-hoc backup. You can then restore a backup of a particular day using the ‘Restore Backup’ tab. Once again you can restore your entire account or you can selectively restore files, database and / or e-mails:
Using a backup plugin such as UpdraftPlus
I’ll not go in to this in a huge amount of detail since this is quite a huge topic. The most popular WordPress plugin to backup your website is probably UpdraftPlus. It gives you a whole load of options and even allows you to store your backups on cloud storage such as Dropbox:
Updraft comes with extensive documentation so have a read of that if you want to know more about using that plugin. It’s great for ad-hoc restores of individual files but things can get quite complicated if you need to restore your entire website – for example if you’re changing web host. If you’re after a point-in-time restore of your entire hosting account you’ll probably find the first methods (via the web host) easier.
How to manually backup your WordPress website
To manually backup your website you need to remember there are two things you need to backup:
- Your files
- Your database
Your files include all of the core WordPress files, any images you’ve uploaded, all of your plugins etc. To back them up have a watch of the video above but it’s simply a case of dragging and dropping everything to a folder on your computer using FTP. We covered the use of FTP software in Part 5 so I’m not going to cover that again. A full backup can take a good 10-15 minutes depending on your internet speed.
How to manually backup your MySQL database
Remember the database contains all of your actual website content. To backup your MySQL database I would normally use PHPMyAdmin. You can find this in the SiteGround control panel here:
If you’re still using cPanel for your hosting you should be able to find PHPMyAdmin in there too. It’s the same tool regardless of how you launch it. Once it’s running click on the database in the left hand column and then click ‘Export’:
Select the ‘Quick’ option, make sure the format is ‘SQL’ and click ‘Go’. It should let you download a .sql file – that file is your database backup:
IMPORTANT: Be very careful in PHPMyAdmin. Clicking the wrong button can destroy your website very quickly.
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