Having a WordPress website is an important part of your business, especially if most of your work comes to you online. Although hosting services have greatly improved their uptime and system redundancy, there are situations where your website can crash. Sometimes, the files for your site can even be lost due to a serious system failure. That is why you should always backup your WordPress site.
Having a backup file for your website lets you quickly restore your website to full functionality, even if all of the files are removed from the server. You should always have a copy so you can restore it yourself and ensure that you can start your website again. Thanks to WordPress and web hosts like Bluehost, this process is much easier.
Here is how to backup your WordPress site.
What Is a WordPress Website Backup?
A backup is a copy of the files needed for your website. This includes the core files for WordPress, any plugins or additions you made to the site, and a copy of the database that it uses to store information. In essence, it is a snapshot of your website that you can use to restore it if something happens to the files on the server.
This is critical for WordPress, especially if you have an online store. WordPress stores all of its data (posts, page content, pictures, user accounts, etc.) in a central database. If this database is changed in the wrong way or deleted, your website will break. If you have a backup of your site, you can restore the damaged parts or replace everything to get your site back online right away.
You should backup your website regularly. Most people try to do it once per month. However, sites with higher traffic should do it more often. If you have an online store, you should try to back it up at least once per week. That way, you won’t lose track of new user accounts, shopping carts, or sales data.
Tools You Can Use for Automatic Backups
There are many tools you can use to backup your WordPress website. Check with your current hosting provider to see if they offer a backup service. For example, Bluehost provides WordPress hosting and automatically creates backup files regularly so that you don’t have to.
If you run a standalone WordPress site, you can install a WordPress plugin to make the process easier. There are backup options using plugins that can make the file and download it for you to your computer or you can choose to upload your backup to cloud storage. It is a much easier and faster process than doing it manually. Plugins should also work on hosted sites if you prefer not to use tools provided by the host.
Your web host should have a method to let you backup your data manually. If your host uses cPanel as its dashboard, then this feature exists. You will have to go to the two programs that WordPress uses, called PHPMyAdmin and MySQL (there are other options, but these are the most common), and download the database and the rest of the files manually. This is only recommended if you are used to working in the backend of web hosting platforms or if you have no other options.
Before You Begin
Before you begin this process, decide which method works best for you. Check with your host to see if there is an existing backup file and if you can download it. Also, you need a place to store the backup files. You can download it straight to your computer. However, businesses may want to have an external hard drive to save backup files to. You also want to keep at least the three most recent copies of the backup, so that you have multiple options for restoring your website.
Ways to Backup Your WordPress Website
There are several ways to backup your WordPress website. Here is how you can do it.
Remember, this is a process for people who have some experience working on website backends. If you are unsure of any of these steps, stop and ask your host for help.
To do a manual backup, start by logging into your hosting platform. This is not the WordPress site that your website sits on, but the administrative system that your web host has. Once you are logged in, look for a backup program in the list of available tools. If your host has one, you can use it to download the latest backup file. If you don’t see one, then look for a program like PHPMyAdmin and MySQL. Usually, they will have the words “PHP” or “SQL” in the title. Open each one separately and download the files there.
Alternatively, you can use an FTP manager to access the website files you need. FileZilla is a common option. You will need the FTP information for your site, which is in the hosting platform. Once you can give FileZilla FTP access to your site, download everything that is in the main file for your web host. Make sure you don’t delete anything.
If you are going to use the plugin, then use the plugin installer in WordPress on the plugins tab. It will take you to the plugin store, where you can search for and download the plugin. Much of the process is automatic, so it will be quick and easy. Once you have the plugin installed, activate it and follow the instructions from the manufacturer. It will usually be as simple as pushing the backup button in the plugin’s interface.
The following plugins can be used for automatic backups:
- Updraft – uploads files to the cloud via Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive & more
- backupbuddy – schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups to the cloud
- Vaultpress (jetpack backup) – different plans available (no free version)
If you ever need to utilize your backup file, there is a backup restore feature.
Hosting Site Automatic Backup
Similar to doing a manual backup, log into your hosting account. Look for the tool that the host has for automatic backups. When you open it, it should give you an option to download the backup files. If you have any questions, reach out to your host for assistance.
It is important to backup your site regularly. Thankfully, WordPress and hosts like Bluehost make it much easier to do so. Make sure you keep several copies of your latest backup files so that you can recover in case of a problem.