You wouldn’t think twice about securing your home. You would protect your family with security cameras, deadbolt locks, and any security gadget on the market.
Keep this same mindset when backing up your WordPress website. In case of an emergency, like a security breach, malware issue, or human error, you’ll need a backup with all your data to get your website up and running again.
Most hosting companies offer automated website backups. However, if the hosting provider goes down, you won’t have immediate access to your website either.
The solution is to perform your own backups. You can either manually backup your WordPress site using cPanel or use a plugin. Either way, if anything goes wrong, you can restore the website and your business can avoid lost revenue due to unnecessary downtime.
In this post, we’ll cover how to backup your website using these two methods and offer some tips on how to properly maintain your backup data.
Why Backup Your WordPress Site?
Hacking is an ongoing threat to businesses. In the first six months of 2019, more than 1,400 data breaches were publicly disclosed. Every business industry is vulnerable, including the retail, education, and manufacturing sectors.
Losing access to your website disrupts your users’ experience and your business. If your website goes down, your visitors can’t buy your products and current customers can’t submit support tickets. In return, you lose revenue and the trust of your customers.
You could back up your WordPress site using a plugin. It's a simpler and more time-efficient alternative to manually backing up your site. But some plugins, especially the free ones, don’t back up all your website data. Instead, they just download your database and not your media files and themes. So, what you thought was a full backup ends up being a portion of your site.
With a manual backup, you have control of all your WordPress files and database. If your site gets hacked, you can take the necessary steps to restore it without a third-party. Plus, the backup process is so simple that even non-tech savvy people can do it.
Now that we understand the advantages and disadvantages of backing up your site using a plugin and using cPanel respectively, let's walk through each process below.
How to Backup WordPress Using a Plugin
WordPress is an extremely flexible and powerful platform, but it doesn't offer every feature you need out-of-the-box. For example, there's no magic button you can push to create a backup of your site.
Fortunately, that's where WordPress plugins come in. These bits of software add or enhance the functionality of your site so that you can automate tasks, like creating backups, without having to code.
The best WordPress backup plugins backup the majority — if not all — of your site automatically once installed and configured properly.
Below we'll walk through the process with the most downloaded backup plugin in the WordPress directory: UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin.
Please note that the process may vary slightly if you use a different plugin, but most of the steps will remain the same.
1. First, log into your WordPress dashboard.
2. Navigate to the Plugins tab. Then click the Add New button.
3. Search for "UpdraftPlus." Once it appears in the results, click the Install Now button.
4. Click Activate. You'll be automatically redirected to the tab listing all the installed plugins on your site.
5. Now it's time to configure the plugin's settings. You might see a pop-up with a Press here to start button! If you don't, simply click the Settings link.
6. If you'd like to perform a backup immediately, click the Backup Now button.
7. If you'd like to schedule auto backups, then you can set your backup schedule under the Settings tab.
8. Next up, choose where to save your backups by selecting a remote storage provider. For the sake of this demo, we'll select Dropbox.
9. One you make your selection, a new section will appear with a link to authenticate your account with the provider after you save your settings. No action is necessary now.
10. Select which files you want to include in your backups.
11. Save your settings by clicking the Save Changes button.
12. Once you click Save Changes, a pop-up window will appear, asking you to verify your account with whichever remote provider you selected.
13. To complete the process, click on the link. It will automatically open a new window asking you to fill in your account information.
14. Grant UpdraftPlus.com access to your remote provider and click Complete Setup.
15. You'll then be redirected back to your WordPress dashboard where you'll see a success message for authenticating your account.
Now you understand how easy it is to set up auto backups of your WordPress site with the UpdraftPlus plugin.
However, there are additional steps you should take to secure your content.
WordPress's official documentation recommends that, if you use a backup plugin, you should still manually backup your site every once in a while as a precaution. Considering this is a best practice, let's walk through how to backup WordPress using cPanel next.
How to Manually Backup WordPress Using cPanel
- Log into your cPanel.
- Under Files, click File Manager.
- On the left panel, find the public_html folder and expand the folder by clicking on the + symbol. Select the folder with your website’s name.
- Right-click your website’s folder and select Compress.
- Select Zip Archive and click Compress File(s).
- After the compression is complete, select the zip file and click Download on the top menu bar.
- Now, place your backup in a secure location on your hard drive.
Most hosting providers offer cPanel to manage your website. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to backup your files. If you don’t have a cPanel, learn how to backup your website with phpMyAdmin here.
1. Log into your cPanel. (Go to www.yourdomain.com/cpanel.)
2. Under Files, click File Manager.
3. On the left panel, find the public_html folder and expand the folder by clicking on the + symbol. Select the folder with your website’s name.
4. Right-click your website’s folder and select Compress. (Compressing the files decreases the amount of time it will take to save the backup.)5. Select Zip Archive and click Compress File(s).
7. Now, place your backup in a secure location on your hard drive.
What to Do After a Manual WordPress Website Backup
Now that you’ve backed up your website manually, the next step is to take a few precautionary measures to maintain your backup. Here are some best practices we found to be helpful.
Encrypt your data
Your backup is only safe from potential hackers if it's encoded into a random message with password protection. Secure all your data by using encryption software, like AxCrypt, to keep your information safe.
Test your backup
What if you tried to access your backup file to restore your website and the backup didn’t work? Be proactive and set up a staging environment to ensure your backup actually works.
Store your backup in multiple locations
You’ll want to store multiple copies of your backup in different places — that includes local and cloud storage. Some options are Dropbox, Google Drive, or a separate hard drive.
Update your backups often
Aim to backup your website once a month or whenever you make major changes. That way, if you need to restore your website, you’re getting the latest version.
Securing Your Content
Be prepared for anything. Whether it’s a security breach or a mishap with your hosting provider, you’ll want to backup your WordPress site using a plugin and using cPanel ideally. Both methods only take a few minutes to do, and a backup will give you peace of mind if any issues occur with your website in the future.
Originally published Jun 15, 2020 4:37:18 PM, updated March 31 2022