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You have a blog, you have created hundreds of blog posts after lots of hard work. Your blog is proving popular, you have a healthy number of daily visitors viewing your site. One day you load your site and you see it is displaying just an error message. You contact your web host, to your shock horror they inform you that they have suffered a catastrophic server failure. They are unable to restore your site as the backups they were keeping are not retrievable anymore. You were relying on your web host to keep your backups for you so you have not made any yourself. All your hard work has now vanished and you now need to start from scratch!
This scenario, while scary, can happen to any site owner. Whether it’s a security breach and your site has been hacked, or you may have deleted some of your blog posts accidentally, or you have performed a plugin update and it’s affected your site, these are common scenarios that may occur. Keeping regular backups of your site is therefore extremely important as you may never know when you may need to restore your site. Even if your web host offers automatic backups as part of their service, it is important that you also keep regular copies just in case.
In this article, we will show you the benefits of using a WordPress plugin such as UpDraftPlus. We will also show you how to install and use UpDraftPlus to automatically perform regular automated back-ups of your site. If the worst does happen, we will also show you how to restore your site.
What is a Backup?
A backup simply means making an exact copy of your site in case you may need to restore it at a later date in case of any emergency as things can go wrong. It’s advisable that you store your backups on multiple mediums, in multiple places. For example, you may want to store a backup of your WordPress site on the cloud as well as to an external hard drive just to be extra safe.
A WordPress site has a number of components which include your website theme, site files such as plugins, your database which includes important data such as posts, pages, comments, users, categories and tags. In order to make a complete replica of your site, you will need to make a backup of all these components.
While you can make a backup of your site manually, it does involve remembering to do it regularly, so we would definitely recommend using a plugin which allows you to automatically create backups on a regular basis.
Let’s see what factors you will need to consider when selecting an appropriate backup plugin for your WordPress site…
What to Look Out for When Selecting a WordPress Backup Plugin
There are plenty of WordPress backup plugins out there. Each one comes with their own features and some are premium while others are free. It is vital that you choose a reliable one. You don’t want to be finding out when it’s too late that you’re unable to restore a backup that your plugin has created due to some issue.
Here are some of the key features that you will need to look out for when deciding on an appropriate backup plugin to use:
The purpose of using a backup plugin is being able to create automated backups when required. You really don’t want to be having to remember to create backups manually as this defeats the whole purpose of using a plugin.
Ability to Schedule
How regularly you update your site will determine your backup schedule. If you post many posts per day, you may want to set-up a daily backup or you may even want to set one up every 8 hours. While if you only create one post a week, a weekly backup should be sufficient. The ability to be able to schedule your backups when required is an important one.
How Easy is it to Restore?
If you site goes down, you want the ability be able to restore it as quickly as possible. Does the plugin allow you to restore your site with just a few clicks? Are you be able to choose what you can restore? For example, if you’re facing issues with your database, you may just want to restore your database and nothing else.
Ability to Save to Multiple Locations
Your plugin should provide you with the ability to be able to save to multiple mediums. Does it allow you to save your backup onto the cloud such as Google Drive or Dropbox as well as to your local hard drive? You don’t want a plugin that simply is only able to save to the server where your site is hosted as it could suffer a catastrophic failure.
A popular and well-rated backup plugin and one that we recommend is UpDraftPlus.
The plugin is extremely easy to use and set-up. Manual backups can be created and it also allows users to create automated backups. You can set-up schedules ranging from just a few hours, to weekly, fortnightly and monthly. You can also specify what files you want to backup and it allows you to restore your backups directly from your WordPress dashboard with just a few clicks. You can specify where to upload your backups including DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, email and much more.
Best of all UpDraftPlus is free. It does have a premium version which has additional features such as being able to clone your site and migrate it to a new URL. It also allows you to save to multiple locations and you can specify the exact times of your backup. If you want to find more about the premium version click here.
Let’s move onto installing and using the UpDraftPlus plugin.
How to Install UpDraftPlus
In order to install the UpDraftPlus plugin, log into your WordPress dashboard, from the menu bar select Plugins > Add New.
Type into UpDraftPlus into the search box. Once you have located the UpDraftPlus plugin, click on Install Now. Once the plugin has installed click on Activate.
Now that you have activated the plugin, we need to configure it.
In order to do this, select Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups and click on the Settings tab.
We first need to specify the automatic backup schedule and also specify how long you want the backups to be retained for. This will mean you won’t need to create manual backups and instead the plugin will perform the automatic backups as per your schedule.
You can specify the schedule for both the files as well as the database. The schedule can range from every 4, 8, or 12 hours, daily, fortnightly to monthly. Once you have made the change click on Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
In our case, we have configured it so that it performs a weekly backup of both the files and the database and these are retained for 4 weeks.
Setting Up Remote Storage
Next, we need to configure where we would like the automatic back-ups to be stored.
UpDraftPlus provides a number of options. For example, you can save it to a remote location such DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive etc or you can simply have it emailed to yourself.
In this example, we’ll be using DropBox to store our backups. In order to enable DropBox, click on the DropBox icon.
On the Remote storage authentication popup, click on the Follow this link to authorize access to your Dropbox account (you will not be able to Dropbox without it).
Next enter your Dropbox account details, including email and password and click on the Sign in button.
Next click on the Allow button to permit UpDraftPlus access to their folder in your Dropbox account (Apps > UpdraftPlus.com).
Finally, click on the Complete setup button to finalise the integration with Dropbox.
Creating Manual Backups
Although the plugin performs automatic backups, from time to time you may want to create manual backups as well. For example, you may want to perform a backup just before you install or upgrade a plugin in case there are any issues and want to restore your site.
In order create a manual backup, you simply need to click on the Backup Now button from the Backup/Restore tab.
The backup is stored on the server where your site is hosted.
If you would like to download the backup, to let’s say your local computer, you can do this by scrolling down to the Existing Backups section and locating the backup you want to take a copy of. Select the components you want to download i.e. Database, Plugins, Themes, Uploads or Others and click on the Download to your computer button. After a few seconds it should be available to download.
If for any reason you need to delete an existing backup, this can easily be done by clicking on the Backup/Restore tab and scrolling down to the Existing Backups section.
Locate the relevant backup you want to delete by selecting the checkbox and depending on where the backup is stored either click on the Delete from your web server button or otherwise click on the Delete button at the bottom of the screen.
Restoring a Backup
If for any reason, you need to restore your site, this can be quickly and easily done with the plugin.
In order to do this, select the Backup/Restore tab and scroll down to the Existing Backups section.
Locate the backup you want to restore, and click on the corresponding checkbox. Click on the Restore button.
Next, you will need to select the components that you would like to restore. These include plugins, database, themes, uploads and others. If you would like to restore the whole site, you will need to enable all the options. Once you have made your choice, click on the Restore button.
Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the restore.
Once the restore has completed successfully, you will see the following message.