The last thing a site owner wants to experience is lost data. Hopefully, losing your data has never happened to you! If it has, I know the agony you go through. A WordPress backup will help put your mind at ease if you ever run into this problem.
I wrote briefly about backing up your files in my previous post How to Organize Your Computer for Maximum Efficiency. From that post, several readers asked me about how best to back up their website data, and how to do it for FREE.
Now, your hosting provider may offer backups. However, it’s really your responsibility, as the site owner, to make sure you perform your backups regularly. Not only that but if something happens to your hosting provider, you may lose all the stored backup data.
Why risk it?
With many plugins out there, you can set up a WordPress backup on your site in just a few minutes!
The best free option I know of and use is UpdraftPlus. It’s available to all WordPress admins (or you, the owner). You can backup and then schedule backups to occur automatically, so you’re able to “set it and forget it.”
Here’s how to back up your site for free
Login to WordPress
Login to your site’s WordPress admin area (dashboard) using a profile with admin privileges (if no one else manages your site, this is you, the site owner).
Display Installed Plugins
From the admin menu on the left, click on the Plugins menu option:
Add a New Plugin
Once you click on the Plugins menu option, you’ll see a list of all the plugins currently on your WordPress site. Some sites will have a ton of plugins installed, and some will only have a few. Click the blue Add New button at the top of the screen to add a new plugin.
Search for the Backup Plugin
Once you’ve clicked the Add New button, you’ll then be shown a list of the available plugins in your WordPress repository.
At the top right-hand corner is a search box. In the search box type in “backup” to show only the WordPress backup plugins available.
Install the Plugin
The first result in the search results will be UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin. If not, scroll on down and search for it.
Click on the Install Now button to the right of the plugin name. This will download the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin to your site.
Activate the UpdraftPlus Plugin
Once the UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin has downloaded, the Install Now button will turn into a blue Activate button.
Click the blue Activate button to turn the plugin on for your site.
After the plugin is activated, you’ll be taken back to the plugin page with UpdraftPlus Backup plugin now displayed in your list of installed plugins.
A backup wizard may come up here; if so, you can follow the wizard directions, or close out and go by the guidelines below:
Under the plugin title are several links; click the Settings link.
Backup Your WordPress Site
On the UpdraftPlus plugin settings page, click on the blue Backup Now button in the middle of the screen to start a backup of your WordPress site.
Choose Your Backup Now Options
Once you’ve clicked the blue Backup Now button in step 8, a popup will appear asking a few questions. Make sure the “include the database in the backup” and “include the files in the backup” are checked.
When you’re performing your very first backup from the settings tab, you won’t have the option to backup to a remote location just yet, so don’t worry about that message. Once you’ve verified the settings, click the Backup Now button at the lower left of the popup.
Complete the Backup
The amount of time UpdraftPlus takes to completes a backup will depend on the size of your site. It may only take a few seconds, or it may take 10-15 minutes.
Once the backup completes, you’ll once again see the UpdraftPlus settings page. The bottom of the page shows the Last log message which will tell you if your backup was successful or not. (see the red arrow labeled #1 in the screenshot).
To view the completed backup, click on the Existing Backups tab at the top of the settings page.
Under the Existing Backups tab, you’ll see a list of all your site’s previous backups. From here, you can download the data, restore the data, or delete the data. I highly recommend that you download the data.
You do this by clicking the five buttons under the “Backup Data” column:
- Database, Plugins, Themes, Uploads, and Others – Each button will allow you to download a zip file of the data. For a complete backup, you need all five zip files.
Schedule Your Future Backups
To automate future WordPress backups on your site, you’ll need to tell UpdraftPlus how often a backup should run
Under the Settings tab, you have two options:
- Files backup schedule: From the drop-down menu box, choose how often you’d like your WordPress files backed up. This schedule includes the plugins, theme files, and media files.
- Database backup schedule: From the drop-down menu, choose how often you would like your WordPress database backed up. The database schedule includes all the content on your site, settings, and comments. A good rule of thumb is to schedule a weekly backup for the files and a daily backup for the database. Every site has different needs, so you can start with the schedule above and adjust as needed for your website.
Set Up Remote Storage
Along with scheduling future backups, you should set up a remote storage option. Remember, if something happens to your site, you probably won’t have access to any backups on your host!
UpdraftPlus allows you to set up many remote storage solutions. Popular options are Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, and email. Email is the easiest option to set up, but you’ll want to pick the most secure option for you.
Your WordPress backups will be emailed to you or saved to the assigned location (if you’re the admin) automatically.
There’s nothing else to set up; just make sure you select the option you want to use for your downloads.
Note: there are other sections on this screen. You can go through them to check them out, but they’re not essential to successfully and regularly backing up your site.
Save Your Changes
After setting the backup schedule and remote storage destination, be sure to save your changes for them to take effect.
Click on the blue Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.
Congratulations! You just completed a successful WordPress backup on your site AND scheduled future backups! Way to go! Now you can get busy working on more important tasks without having to worry about your website data.
UpdraftPlus has a premium version. Depending on the size of your plan, you’ll be investing between $70 and $195 for a year of service.
Here’s what you get with the premium version:
- All UpdraftPlus Add-Ons. And there are a lot. With this single plugin, you’ll get multiple storage destinations, automatic backup, migrator, importer, enhanced reporting, no adverts, fix backup time, more files, more database options, multisite/network, WebDAV, Microsoft OneDrive, SFTP/FTPS/SCP enhanced support for Dropbox (sub-folders), Rackspace Cloud Files, Amazon S3 (Standard and Standard – Infrequent Access Storage classes) and Google Drive (sub-folders).
- Free upgrades, including new Add-Ons when they become available, for a year.
- Support at no cost via forum and email for a year.
- A year of Free storage with a 1GB subscription to UpdraftVault: Updraft’s remote storage product
- Free tokens for UpdraftClone: Allows you to create a cloned test site instantly and directly
Also, UpdraftPlus is compatible with all versions of WordPress from 3.2 onwards, including the current version.