New bloggers may be wanting to know how often they should back up their WordPress site, or even whether they should back it up at all. Can we not just rely on hosts to back up our site? What tools are available to create our own backups?
Backing up your WordPress site locally at regular intervals is crucially important, for it acts as an insurance against a number of unfortunate things which can happen, such as making mistakes, plugins and updates crashing your site, hackers and other factors. It is strongly recommended not to rely on just your host to back your site up, since they may or may not be able to help you if something goes seriously wrong.
There are plenty of resources that can help you do this. In this article we will recommend a free and easy to use WordPress plugin called UpdraftPlus, which can have your site backed up in less than 2 minutes with a few simple clicks. This is well worth the time spent versus losing massive chunks of your site and having to start over because it wasn’t backed up.
This is especially important for people just starting out blogging, as you will inevitably make mistakes at some point and it is important to have fairly regular “save points” along the way to go back to in case disaster strikes. You do not want to be losing 6 months of work because you didn’t back your site up so this is important to do and can be done quickly and for free.
Let’s look in more detail at how to do this. The video below from Alex at WP Eagle takes you through it visually if your prefer a video.
Backup Your Site With UpdraftPlus
UpdraftPlus is a free and fantastically easy to use plugin for WordPress that allows you to backup your site in a few simple clicks. Creating these backups or restore points is important in case anything goes wrong on your site and you have to revert back to a previous version.
The process is very easy. Simply head over to the Plugins section of your WordPress Dashboard, and click Add New. Search for UpdraftPlus, and install and activate the plugin. An UpdraftPlus or Backup option will now appear on the Settings part of your menu on the left hand side.
It has a deliberately very easy to use interface, perfect for beginners. Simply click Backup Now and the plugin will make a backup of your site exactly as it exists now. This can act as a save point you can go back to in case disaster strikes and your site gets all messed up.
The process normally takes only a minute or two. The plugin will save all your created backups in the Existing Backups tab. It is a good idea to download these to your computer or some other form of external storage for even greater safety, since someone who hacks into your site could theoretically delete your backups if they are only stored within the plugin.
To download an UpdraftPlus backup to your computer or other external device, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings…..UpdraftPlus on your Dashboard.
- Your previous backups are displayed if you scroll down on the Backup/Restore tab, broken down into Database/Plugins/Themes/Uploads/Other categories.
- Click on each category and the plugin will pull it up from the stored file. A button will appear for you to download that part of the backup.
- Click on the download button and then save to a location on your computer. It may be a good idea to create a backup folder on your computer if you have multiple sites.
- Download each of the five parts of the backup to your computer (Database, Plugins, Themes etc).
- You now have a remotely stored version of that backup to go back to in case your site or server is hacked and your site is deleted.
Why Backing Up Is Important
Backing up your site is crucially important for a number of reasons:
- People new to blogging and website building are likely to make mistakes, and it is always handy to have a backup to be able to revert to in case something goes badly wrong.
- Hosting companies can sometimes revert a site back to a previous version, but you cannot 100% rely on them to do this. Always make additional local backups as a safety net.
- There are many factors which can cause a site to break, like using too many plugins, updating themes or plugins, messing around with CSS or PHP code, or switching to a new theme.
- Hackers can also break into a site if the password is not very strong, and delete all your site. This is why you should also save your backups to some other form of storage as well periodically.
- WordPress plugins can be sold and if they get into the hands of hackers they can offer an easy way to hack into your site if you have that plugin installed and are not running hacking protection measures. This is a key source of hacks and should not be underestimated. Make sure any plugins you use are reputable and kept up to date.
- It is also a good idea to backup before updating WordPress, or any other major change to your site, like changing theme.
At the end of the day, WordPress websites can build into very complex chunks of code, and with so many bits of code interacting with each other, there is a lot that can potentially go wrong. It is important therefore to have your own local backups to compliment whatever backups your host may have; a backup to their backup, so to speak!
Also, good websites typically take hundreds or thousands of hours to build, so it is important to make sure that effort isn’t wasted and you are sent back to square one by an unexpected update or glitch crashing your site and undoing all your hard work. The UpdraftPlus plugin is a great way to protect against this.
Click here to view the free UpdraftPlus plugin. You can search for it within the Plugins page on WordPress or else follow the link, download the plugin as a zip file and then reupload to your WordPress site.