Have you ever been in a situation where your website stopped working and you thought, "I wish I'd made a backup"? Many people forget to make backups in their daily work and go on to regret this mistake at some point. Because ironing out an unnecessary error without a backup can take days. In this article, I'll show you which WordPress structures should be backed up and the different ways you can approach backups.
There are some situations where a backup is essential and they have one thing in common: they're annoying when they occur. The reason why you need a backup is usually enough to stress you out so you'll be doing your nerves a favor if you at least have an easy way of restoring one. If security vulnerabilities have been exploited, for example, you'll usually need a backup.
Backups can be full, incremental or differential. Full backups don't take into account any specific changes; all data is simply backed up. Incremental backups check what changes have occurred since the last incremental backup. With differential backups, all changes since the last full backup are backed up.
You can store your WordPress backups either locally, on your web server or externally (for example in a cloud). There are several sensible ways to perform WordPress backups. The right one for you depends mainly on your project and the circumstances.
Manual WordPress backups
You create a manual backup in the same way you would do with files on your PC: copy all the files and paste them into another folder. Due to the nature of a manual backup, only a complete backup is recommended, as otherwise you'd have to manually search for and save all changed files. You can, however, easily find programs online to simplify this process.
A manual backup is particularly useful if you're only developing locally or without an internet connection.
Step 1: Backup the file system
If you want to perform a manual backup on a web server, you first need FTP access. With FTP (File Transfer Protocol), you can access the file system of your web server. There you do the same as described above, only you copy the files on the web server to another folder. To protect the files against server failure, it's also advisable to download the files and save them on an external hard drive or other storage medium.
In concrete terms, you only have to copy the folder of your WordPress installation and paste it in another place, i.e. in another folder. To ensure your backups are well organized and have a certain structure, you should name the folder accordingly and include the date in the name. A good naming example would be: ProjectX_Backup1_22February2022.
Step 2: Backup the database
It's also important to back up the database, as this is where things like blog entries and comments are stored. You can save these via phpMyAdmin via export. To do this, log into your database administration (usually via phpMyAdmin). The login details are often forgotten unfortunately. If so, you'll need access to the file wp-config.php. This can be found in the directory of your WordPress installation, which you can access via FTP. Look for the MySQL settings and you should find the user name and password you need to log in to phpMyAdmin.
To back up the database, you only need to export the WordPress database. This creates a .sql file which you can save in the same way as the folder of your WordPress installation.
phpMyAdmin at Raidboxes
The tool Adminer is used instead of phpMyAdmin at Raidboxes. You can access the tool from your Box overview.
The backed up folder of your WordPress installation and the .sql file together form a complete WordPress backup.
WordPress backups per plugin
There are some well-known plugins you can use to manage your WordPress backups. The advantage of plugins is you only have to set them up once and handling backups in the future is easy. The disadvantage is that this configuration can be very detailed and time-consuming. It's also a plugin and these always involve a bit of administrative work, for example when updates are due. In addition, they require storage space and can pose potential security vulnerabilities. I'd like to present three popular WordPress backup plugins below.
UpdraftPlus is one of the most used plugins for WordPress backups, with an installation on over 3 million websites and the most positive reviews among WordPress backup plugins. UpdraftPlus has the advantage of being very easy to use and has many features. In the premium version, UpdraftPlus can also store the backup in locations other than your web server.
BlogVault has over 400,000 active installations. The difference to other plugins is that it makes incremental backups. As explained above, incremental backups are a type of backup where the changes are compared to the previous version and only the changes are saved. The backups are stored in a cloud. The plugin has a built-in staging mode and advertises with claims on high reliability.
BackWPup saves your backups as a ZIP file with an external service provider.
There are over 700,000 websites with an active BackWPUp installation. One special feature of this plugin is that it has WordPress multisite support.
Data protection & security
Take care with privacy issues when storing data externally. For general tips on finding safe WordPress plugins for your website, check out our article on choosing the right plugins.
WordPress hosting from Raidboxes automatically backs up your WordPress website every night, eliminating the need for backup plugins. The Raidboxes Dashboard lets you view, manually download or clone your backups for new projects.
WordPress backups at Raidboxes
Your WordPress backups are integrated free of charge into our WordPress hosting and are stored on secure servers in compliance with GDPR. Both WordPress and the database are backed up. A daily, automatic backup is provided by default. You can also make up to three manual backups whenever you like. At Raidboxes these are not manual backups as I described above, but simply automatic backups that you can trigger manually with a mouse click. If you need to create a backup, you can do so via the Dashboard of your box:
How to restore a backup of your box:
From the Starter plan upwards you can also download your backups and save them locally.
Creating backups is usually a quick task and is part of sensible, forward-looking planning. It can sometimes take quite a while to set up a book backup system initially, however. WordPress hosting at Raidboxes includes an integrated backup system that creates an automatic backup of your website every night. Manual backups can also be created with one mouse click – so you have a much lower workload. All in all, backups are easy if they're created regularly and completely.