WordPress Backup: The Right Strategy

A WordPress backup strategy is of significant importance for every website and blog. Maybe you already read that over and over and can’t stand hearing about it anymore. Nonetheless, you should consider it immediately, should you not provide regular backups for your blog yet. It can go up in flames a lot faster than you might think.

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This is Why a Backup Strategy is of Immense Importance

It can hit any of us at any time. You have to be aware of that. I, for example, thought that I wouldn’t need a backup for each of my websites. As a result, my personal website andreas-hecht.com was not saved in backups, as it didn’t have much content. I had to regret that later on.

A few weeks ago, I saw that my theme – Enfold by Kriesi – needed an update. Expecting nothing evil, I clicked the update button. A few minutes later, I was sitting in front of the debris that used to be my website. Enfold has destroyed it in a matter of seconds. The theme didn’t give out any HTML source code anymore after the opening <head>. I wasn’t even able to bring my website back to life by installing an older version either.

The installation of a WordPress basic theme managed to return my blog content, but the deposited pages were gone forever.

All of that just because I am an idiot that wanted to save five dollars a month. All of my other websites are secured by VaultPress, which I will present in a bit.

Further Information:

Killed in Action: When Your Website Suddenly Dies (in German language)

WordPress Backup Solutions – What’s Available, What Makes Sense

There are many options to create backups for WordPress. Not all of them make sense, as for some – free – versions, extensive knowledge on database administration is required to be able to apply the backups. Thus, the automatic backup solutions are better choices for inexperienced users or those who prefer a professional solution. They allow you to restore your backups with a single click. Good backup solutions are never free. However, the costs are very appropriate.

In the following, I will present two examples for each of the backup solutions.

The Fully Automized Solutions: Backup Services

These backup services always require payments. However, the costs are reasonable and range from five USD to nine Euro a month.

1 – VaultPress

VaultPress WordPress Backup

VaultPress should be one of the most popular services for fully automatic WordPress backups. The provided service’s quality and user-friendliness are excellent. By the way, VaultPress is a project by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

This is how it works: log into VaultPress using your WordPress.com account, enter your URL, as well as your credit card information for the payments. Afterward, install the VaultPress plugin on your blog and enter the registration number you received in the VaultPress dashboard. Now, all you need to do is enter the SFTP or SSH access information for your server so VaultPress can work properly.

The Access Data For Your Server / Your Webhosting Package, Deposited in VaultPress

The Access Data For Your Server / Your Webhosting Package, Deposited in VaultPress.

The service instantly starts doing its job and creates the first backup of your entire website, including the uploads.

Viewing the Backups Created by VaultPress.

Viewing Individual Backups Created by VaultPress.

As you can see, each backup can be restored with just one click.

Important Information:

  • Paid: yes, available starting at 5 USD a month per URL/website
  • What exactly does it create backups of:  the entire WordPress installation
  • Where are the backups hosted: on the service’s servers (USA)
  • Support: yes, via email. Fast and, from my experience, good
  • Disadvantages: None, aside from the data storage in the USA
  • Recommendable: Totally, from my own experience
  • Trial period available: no
  • Payment options: credit card only
  • Possible payment rates: Monthly and annually. Yearly payment saves one month’s fee
  • Terms of termination: termination possible at all times via one click from the dashboard
  • A WordPress.com account is required
  • Link to the product

2 – blogVault

WordPress Backup blogVault

BlogVault doesn’t only offer a fast and straightforward backup solution with recovery, but also other interesting, additional functions. One advantage is the test recovery that VaultPress doesn’t have. The service requires the installation of a plugin.

What BlogVault Can do:

  • Backup history of up to 30 days: single pages or the entire website can be restored.
  • One-click-recovery: no fumbling around with database files or something similar.
  • Test Recovery: lets you check if your website was saved entirely. The service provides a test restoration with one-click from their servers.
  • High security: blogVault saves your backups on servers by Hetzner, as well as Amazon S3. Additionally, you’re also able to keep the backup in your Dropbox.
  • Additional functions: blogVault provides easy relocation of a WordPress installation.
  • Email support: currently only in English

Important Information:

  • Paid: yes, starting at 9 Euro a month for one website
  • What exactly does it create backups of:  the entire WordPress installation
  • Where are the backups hosted: on the service’s servers at Hetzner, and on Amazon S3
  • Support: yes, via email
  • Disadvantages: no evident ones
  • Recommendable: most likely
  • Trial period available: yes, you get seven days. After that, you’ll be charged
  • Payment options: PayPal only
  • Possible payment rates: monthly and yearly. Annual payments save between 12 and 16 percent.
  • Terms of termination: termination is possible at any time with one click via the dashboard
  • Link to the product

BlogVault sounds promising. I’ll make sure to do some in-depth testing with it shortly. Afterward, I can make safe statements. There is no risk in using the 7-day trial to check if the service meets the expectations.

Manual Solutions via WordPress Plugins

The manual solutions for a WordPress backup are mostly some popular and free plugins. They may be able to create a backup, but they are unable to restore it. Thus, you need to have experience with using phpMyAdmin to get the stored database back into the system. However, there is also a plugin solution that can restore the saved backups. This solution is paid but seems recommendable.

1 – BackupBuddy

wordpress backup BackupBuddy

The User Interface of BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is another paid backup solution. It claims to protect over half a million WordPress websites since 2010. BackupBuddy also offers backups that are restorable with one click. There are many different types of backups available. You could save the entire website, or just the data, or the database.

A restore feature is provided, and additionally, you can comfortably move a site to another server. Aside from the businesses’ servers, the files are also saved in the Dropbox, on Amazon S3, or Google Drive, as you wish. It’s also possible to download the saved backups.

What BackupBuddy can do:

  • Backup recovery: single areas or the entire website can be restored
  • One-click-recovery: No fumbling around with database files or something similar.
  • High security: BackupBuddy saves your backups on own servers or in your Dropbox. Saving on Amazon S3 and Google Drive is possible as well. On top of that, the backup can be downloaded at any time.
  • Additional functions: BackupBuddy provides an easy relocation of a WordPress installation, as well as fascinating features for developers. Migration, cloning, and a staging website are easy to realize. The staging function is interesting, allowing you to clone a developer page, and keep it up to date with a few clicks. Services for the relocation to a new domain and the automatic replacement of an old domain with a new one are integrated as well. Also, the plugin provides plenty more features and tools. It is very extensive.
  • Ticket support: currently only available in English

Important Information:

  • Paid: yes, starting at 80 USD per year and website. At the moment, you’ll receive 25 percent off when signing up for the newsletter.
  • Updates and support period: one year each, as you pay per year
  • What exactly does it create backups of: the entire WordPress installation or specific areas
  • Where are the backups hosted: on the service’s servers in the USA, or on Amazon S3, Google Drive, or in your own Dropbox.
  • Support: yes, via a ticket system
  • Disadvantages: no obvious ones
  • Recommendable: most likely
  • Trial period available: no
  • Payment options: credit card only
  • Possible payment rates: annually
  • Terms of termination: license runs out automatically when it is not extended. Thus, termination is not necessary.
  • Link to the product

2 – BackWPup – free

BackWPup WordPress Plugin

BackWPup is probably the most popular free backup plugins. It works perfectly fine, at least on more expensive hosting options. On cheap shared-hostings, the plugin often stops with an error message, as the backup job takes longer than accepted by the hoster. That’s my experience with the plugin, at least.

Depending on your needs, the plugin either saves your entire page or only the database. Additionally, a backup for the files (the XML import file) and the plugins can be executed. Furthermore, there are many different security measures available, including the own server, the Dropbox, Amazon S3, FTP, and so on.

BackWPup has one disadvantage, however: it is not capable of restoring backups. This has to be done manually, requiring knowledge on database administration. If you lack this knowledge, an expert has to be hired. A paid version is available too, yet it can’t recover backups either.

An Overview of the Functions:

  • Database backup (requires mysqli)
  • WordPress XML Export
  • Creates a file with the installed plugins
  • Optimizes the database
  • Checks and repairs the database
  • File backup
  • Backups in zip, tar, tar.gz, tar.bz2 format (requires gz, bz2, ZipArchive)
  • Saves the backups on: server, DropBox, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, RackSpaceCloud and SugarSync

Important Information:

  • Free on WordPress.org
  • No backup recovery
  • Only basic support via the WordPress support forum
  • Work in progress
  • Developer: Inpsyde GmbH, Frank Bültge, Daniel Hüsken
  • Newest version from: May 2016
  • Download on WordPress.org

Conclusion

A good backup strategy is indispensable. However, there are many trip hazards, especially when it comes to the free solutions. Thus, a paid solution for little money is recommended. Experience shows that, after the installation and activation, you don’t have to take care of backups anymore, as everything runs smoothly in the background. And should the worst case scenario happen, everything is recovered in a few minutes thanks to the restore function.

From my misery, I learned that you should not run a website without backups. Thus, all of my websites have a backup solution now. This lets me sleep calmly again.

(dpe)

Andreas Hecht

Andreas Hecht is a journalist and specialist for WordPress and WordPress Security. He roams the web since its inception. He has published an ebook on WordPress Security, which you might want to take a look at.

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2 Comments on "WordPress Backup: The Right Strategy"

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Gee Ranasinha
Guest

Good overview. It’s also worth mentioning that your hosting provide may offer backups and/or snapshots, either as part of your plan or as an option. We generally prefer and recommend this option to clients since, as it’s implemented at server level, there’s one less WP plug-in taking up resources.

Jeff
Guest
Why no mention of UpdraftPlus (https://updraftplus.com/, https://wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/)? It is a great free plugin (no affiliation on my part, just a satisfied user) that does offer restore capability even in the free version. They do offer paid plugins for extra functionality (like backing up to cloud services, premium support, enhanced scheduling, etc) but the free version by itself is very good and will suit most normal users. It is also very popular (800k+ active installs) so no worries about it being a here today, gone tomorrow option. There is even an UpdraftPlus free plugin for MainWP if you use that (I… Read more »
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