When Blogging on WordPress most bloggers don’t start out thinking about “backup” which causes them to wait months or years before implementing a backup plugin for WordPress. This Beginners Guide to WordPress Backup Plugins will walk you through the various components of WordPress that need to be backed up and what methods or plugins to use to back up your WordPress installation.
What is there to Backup With WordPress?
In WordPress there are 3 primary types of data and locations that you need to consider for backup and these include your WordPress Database, WordPress Themes & Plugins and WordPress Uploaded Content.
This would be your WordPress SQL Database which includes all of your posts, comments, users, WordPress configurations and some plugin configurations. This is basically all of the content/configurations for your blogs minus any uploaded images or your blog theme and physical plugins. The guts of your articles with comments are stored in your SQL Database and this is probably the most important part of your WordPress installation as you can restore the articles (even if images are missing / using another theme / do without plugins..etc) but without your database content all of your articles and the comments on them are lost.
This is why the WordPress database is the most important thing to backup out of all your backups, and this database grows fairly rapidly but usually doesn’t become as large as your WordPress Uploaded Content which grows more rapidly if you use a lot of images or uploaded video in your articles.
WordPress Themes & Plugins
These would be all files in your /wp-content/themes and /wp-content/plugins folders that you use and it is important to backup these files if you do any sort of theme customization or plugin customization or don’t keep a backup of the theme/plugins you have installed. Many of these plugins have database tables as tie ins with configuration options stored in the database.
By default most WordPress plugins will only backup your database and will not backup your plugins or themes.
WordPress Uploaded Content
These are all of your files in the /wp-content/uploads folder and subfolders and include all uploaded images, media and or files you have added and inserted into blog posts or set as featured images for your blog articles. Typically if you upload a lot of media this uploads folder can get very large, this is also a good consider using a Content Management System (CMS) like Amazon S3 to host your uploads so you don’t have to worry about all these files stored locally on your web server. If you run a CMS to manage your uploaded content it means you don’t have to worry about backing it up manually from your WordPress blog as your content is hosted on a cloud platform (depending on provider) and is accessible with just the right connection configurations.
What WordPress Backup Plugin to Use?
There are a number of WordPress Backup Plugins that work and are free. Here is a list of the plugins I recommend the most:
EZPZ One Click Backup
EZPZ One Click Backup is one of the most comprehensive WordPress backup plugins available and requires the least amount of configuration so is great for beginners. This one is also the only one I recommend that not only backs up your WordPress database but also downloads all of your wp-content/uploads files and lets you save them off locally to your hard drive.
EZPZ OCB lets you set a recurring backup schedule weekly, daily or multiple times per day and weekly should accommodate most bloggers. You set the time and the backup folder on your hosting provider. This way you can retrieve your backup via FTP at your leisure if you want to download it locally.
You can also configure EZPZ OCB to backup all of your WordPress content to your DropBox folder, which makes it great as you don’t have to keep your backup copies on your local computer. This is done with the EZPZ OCB – Extensions Settings.
You can also set the plugin to backup to an FTP site instead of Dropbox as well.
Other Backup Plugins
Now, this plugin works for most blogs but some hosting providers may have your site locked down to where this plugin does not work, if this is the case then here are some other options for you.
WP-DB Manager is another good plugin for backing up your WordPress site and allows you to configure automatic scheduled backups. I wrote an article on WP-DB Manager and scheduling backups that you can read. This plugin however will only allow you to backup your WordPress Database and will not backup your Themes, Plugins or uploaded content. This is important but if your hosting provider has your site locked down to where EZPZ One Click Backup doesn’t work you will have to setup scheduled backups of the physical files with your Hosting Provider CPanel or Administrative interface.
I do use WP-DB Manager to email myself backups in addition to EZPZ One Click Backup and I have it backup my blog hosting files to my DropBox account. My blog is about 500mb total and this is much smaller than the 2GB of free space that Dropbox gives you.
BackupBuddy is not a free WordPress backup solution but it is the most comprehensive and has the most features out of all the WordPress backup plugins I have seen. BackupBuddy which was also recommended by Ileane from Basic Blog Tips can backup your content to Amazon S3, Dropbox or external FTP. It can send backups via email, schedule backups, notify via email when backups completed and do full file backups with database or only WordPress databases. BackupBuddy is also used by WordPress professionals who like to create a “template” WordPress install, back it up and deploy it as a new custom WordPress setup for other sites or clients.
BackupBuddy is the only backup solution that you can do a restore without even needing WordPress installed, you just run the BackupBuddy restore php script and it will rebuild and restore your entire WordPress install from the ground up, you don’t have to install WordPress first and then restore your backup into it.
If you are looking for the best and a professional WordPress backup solution, then BackupBuddy would be my highest recommendation.
Make Sure You are Backing Up
Make sure that even from day 1 you have a proper automated backup system in place, even if you don’t know how to restore the backup you can at least have peace of mind that you have the information and can contact and hire somebody in a jiffy to rebuild and restore your site in case of an emergency.
I myself have done more than a few WordPress backup implementations and restores for clients and if you need plugin assistance or configuration help don’t hesitate to contact me.