WordPress Backup Strategy – Which One is Best for You?

Author:  Debra Murphy


Reading Time: 5 minutes
WordPress Backup Strategy

A quality website is critical to a successful inbound marketing strategy.  As the central focal point of your online marketing, your website needs to be up 24×7. Building your website in WordPress gives you the ability to manage and maintain the website yourself. But if you are managing your website personally, do you have a WordPress backup strategy in place?

If you don’t, how will you recover all the work you’ve put into building your online web presence so you don’t lose visibility for your business in the event of a website meltdown?

WordPress Backup Options

Depending on your skill level, there are several options from which to choose.

  • Simple backup of content and images
  • Automated backup using a WordPress plugin
  • Manual database backup – most of us probably won’t select this method but if you have an IT person who is database savvy, this may be the option they choose
  • Many hosting companies offer a backup service as well

In addition, you should also have a file transfer program such as Ipswitch WS_FTP or Filezilla. Moving files between your desktop and the hosted server will make moving the backup files easy. WordPress provides instructions for using Filezilla but in general, FTP clients work pretty much the same way.

Simple WordPress Backup

Although this works, it will take you longer to recover depending on the size of your website. If your site is relatively young, this method will help you recover easily. If you have been blogging for a while, consider implementing the automated strategy below in addition to keeping regular backups of these files.

  • Content (posts/pages/custom post types)
  • Theme settings if using a premium theme that provides a .json file
  • Plugin settings if available
  • Uploads into the media library
  • Theme files
  • Plugin directory so you can just transfer the directory up to your host and then activate them all at once.
  • .htaccess and robot.txt
  • wp-config.php file. The wp-config.php file, located in your top-level directory on the web server, contains the login information to the database. If something corrupts the wp-config.php file, your website is inaccessible.

Create a backup folder on your computer to put all of your backup files into one location for easy access. The first three above (content, theme and plugin settings) will be downloaded via the WordPress dashboard. The other files need to be moved using FTP.

To backup your WordPress content, go to Tools in the WordPress dashboard and click on export. Notice that your content backup will also include custom post types if you use any plugins that create them.

WordPress Content Export

Make your selection and click on the “download export file” button and save the XML file to your backup directory.

One thing to note is the size of your content export. Depending on your hosting provider, you will only be able to import your content via the WordPress import feature if your XML file is less than the upload size restriction placed on your media library. Most hosting companies today provide a 128mb limit on uploads.

If you have a large website, you can export your content in pieces. For example, export pages as a separate XML file. Export your posts by year. Then every time you publish a new blog post, you should take an export of all posts since the beginning of the year. This way if you do need to rebuild your site, you can get your pages up quickly and then work on recovering your posts.

Automated Backup using a WordPress Plugin

The more practical way to develop a WordPress backup and restore strategy is to use a plugin. There are several available that you can choose from but depending on your skill level, some plugins may be easier for you to set up and run. There are both premium and free plugins that do the job. And some of the plugins will take advantage of cloud storage such as Amazon S3, Dropbox or Google Drive.

The plugin I have chosen is the All-in-One WP Migration plugin by ServMask.

The All-in-One WP Migration plugin enables you to keep a backup of the entire website including the database, uploads directory, plugins and WordPress for an easy recovery if you need to rebuild your website because of an outage. It is also easy to use to move hosting companies when needed.

The plugin is free to take backups. If you need to restore your backup, you need their unlimited extension. There are other extensions if you wish to backup to the cloud.

To take a backup, simply select export in the All-in-One WP Migration dashboard.

All-in-One WP Migration Export

You can choose to backup into the cloud using Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, WebDAV and many others. Or you can simply save the backup on your hard drive. It is also stored in its own directory called /wp-content/ai1wm-backups/.

To restore a backup, go to All-in-One WP Migration Backups and select restore.

All-in-One WP Migration Restore

Keeping a backup of your WordPress website is crucial to maintaining a powerful web presence. If you lose your website and do not get it up and running within a few hours, your visibility may take a hit. Since you never know when the Googlebot will come by to index your site, you don’t want to risk not being available when it does.

3 thoughts on “WordPress Backup Strategy – Which One is Best for You?”

  1. Oh my goodness I don’t know what I’d do without Vaultpress. I had a scare a little while back when my blog went down and I thought I got hacked and was so scared I was going to lose everything. After that, I was happy to pay the $5 a month so I could rest easy at night. I haven’t tried Optin Monster yet, but have heard such great things about it and plan on purchasing it in a month or so. What a great list

  2. Hey Debra,

    Thanks for posting such a very helpful and informative article. I had may own WordPress powered site and I usually use the FTP to gather and make a back up of my files. But to be honest, I am not really familiar with the plugin that you are using and I honestly want to say that I am very interested to try this plugin. Nevertheless, thanks for sharing this post. May you have a good day a head of you.

    • Thanks Farrell. Automating the backup is just one less thing I have to think about doing :) Have a great day.

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