WordPress Backup Story
Backing Up WordPress is so important that I have to share this story with you. This story is about a client that contacted me asking for help with their website. They told me they had been making some changes to their site, and now everything was all screwed up!
Since they were managing their site themselves, the first thing I asked them was, did they have a backup of their site? They replied, “yeah, I think so.” That response did not sound too promising, so I asked them if they were using a backup plugin on their site. They said “yeah, I think it’s Backup–something.” OK, that’s a start, I thought. I asked them to give me the login credentials and let me take a look at their site.
Once I logged in, and checked the plugins, I noticed that they had the plugin UpdraftPlus. Great, I thought, this will be easy. Once I got into the plugin settings I saw a backup, only one backup, and it looked like it was from months ago. Oh boy, wonder what happened.
I asked the client when they had last backed up their site, and also about the plugin, and they said they had installed the plugin a couple of months ago, and had done a manual backup of their site then. Only then. UpdraftPlus has the ability to setup automated backups, but that feature had not been enabled. They had not been backing up WordPress.
The next question was about their web host. Did they have a backup plan with them. I won’t mention the host name, but unfortunately, after checking, they did not have a backup plan with them.
So, we were stuck with the only backup we had, from a couple of months ago. I was worried, as I knew if they had made any recent updates to their site, those would be lost.
I ask them this question, and they told me that they had written a blog post last month, that it had done really well and received a lot of comments. They were happy about that. I told them straight-away, that we may not be able to recover that one. (Insert long faces)
I went ahead and used UpdraftPlus to restore the database files from the copy they had, and the site was up and running again. We checked the site and notice that their most recent blog post, the one they were so proud of, was not there anymore. I asked them how they had drafted their post, and they said they had used Microsoft Word. Great! Did they have the file? Yes they did, even better!
We were able to restore the blog post from the Word copy. We took a look at the post on the site, and then I was asked, “where are all the comments, we must have had forty comments on this post.” Oh, alas, the comments were gone I told them. Unless, we could find a database backup that was more recent then the one we used, they were gone for good. Knowing that comments were a integral part of SEO, they were devastated.
So you know the lesson learned from this story, backing up WordPress is very important! So, backup your site and backup it often. You need to have a good backup plan for your site, to protect yourself from what happened in this story, as well as from the 100’s of other things that can go wrong with a website. Restoring you site from a backup file, is the easiest method to fix most unknown problems that can occur. And, most of the time, you can correct these problems, by only restoring the database file.
Having A Backup Management Plan
So now, hopefully I have scared you a little into thinking about your backup management plan. If you manage your own site, then a backup plan is a necessity and one you should not take lightly.
If you are paying for a management plan with someone, or some company, then it would just be a matter of calling them up and having them restore the site for you. Most backup management plans come with at least 30 days of backup files, so the site above could have been restored back to the day before, and everything would have been as it was before.
Paying for a management plan is a great idea, if you are a small business and it fits within your budget. Or, if you know you are not going to have to time to manage the site yourself, then it is just a wise business decision to have someone do it for you.
I am going to talk today about backing up WordPress and how you can manage the backups yourself, with a plugin. I am going to show you how to use that plugin to setup a regular backup schedule, and then store the backup files to an offsite location for easy retrieval when needed. The plugin is UpdraftPlus.
Creating WordPress Backup with UpdraftPlus
UpdraftPlus is a highly rated WordPress plugin with over 1 million installs. The WordPress depository lists it as the “highest-ranking backup plugin on WordPress.org.”
All this, and its free as well. Although, there is also a premium version as well, which adds more remote storage options.
The first thing you will need to do is install and activate the plugin UpdraftPlus.
After activating the plugin you will need to visit Settings >> UpdraftPlus Backups page to configure the plugin settings.
Now you need to click on the settings tab. This is where you will set up an automatic backup schedule and a remote location to store your backups.
First, you should choose a backup schedule for your files. The files include your WordPress themes, plugins, images and other uploads.
After that you need to select a backup schedule for your WordPress database. WordPress is a database driven software. All your post and pages, comments, website settings, are stored in the database.
Your backup schedule should be based on how often you add new content to your website.
For example, if you add a new blog post every week, you can select a weekly backup of the database. If you add a blog post everyday, then you can, and should, select a daily backup of the database.
In the image above, I selected a weekly backup of files and a daily backup of the database.
Offsite Storage of Backup Files
Next, you need to choose where to store your backup files.
I wouldn’t recommend that you save your backups to the same location as your website. If you lose your website, you could also lose access to your backup files.
In my example above, the website was screwed up, but we still had access to login to the site and access the plugin to restore the file. Its not always this easy, so make sure if you have to completely restore the site, then your backup files are protected off-site.
This is why I recommend that you choose a remote cloud storage service to store your backups.
UpdraftPlus allows you to save your backup files to several cloud storage services including Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 and more. You can also send your backups to an email address.
Simply click on a remote service to select it, and you will see the setup instructions below.
For our purposes today, I am going to show you how use Dropbox as your remote backup storage service, as I think it is the easiest of them all.
First, if you don’t have a Dropbox account, then go ahead and signup for one. You can click on the Dropbox link in this page. If you don’t use Dropbox for anything else, it is still worth using it for your backup storage. With a new account, you will get a least 2 gigs of storage space. This is more then enough space for your backups, unless you just have a huge site, then I would recommend using Amazon S3. You will get 5 gigs of storage for free with them, and after that, their pricing is really reasonable. I will talk about them in another post.
So, after setting up your account, click on the Dropbox image to select it and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the save changes button.
UpdraftPlus will save your settings. However, you still need to give UpdraftPlus access to your Dropbox account.
Scroll down to the remote storage setup instructions and click on the link next to “Authenticate with Dropbox” option.
The link will take you to the Dropbox website where you will be asked to sign in using your Dropbox email and password.
After login, you will be asked if you want to allow UpdraftPlus to access your Dropbox account.
UpdraftPlus will only have permission to access it’s own folder in “Apps >> UpdraftPlus” folder. Click on “Allow” button to continue.
You will then be redirected to UpdraftPlus website where you need to click on “Complete Setup” button to finish the setup.
You will now be taken back to your WordPress site, and you will see the UpdraftPlus settings page again. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the Save Changes button.
You have now setup a backup schedule and a remote location to store your backups.
WordPress Website Management
Backups allow you to recover your website in an emergency. However they cannot protect you against common security threats like hacking, malware, code injection, etc.
If you want to consider someone managing your backups and security, check out my plans at RobMcdonald.Net. I offer 3 levels of website management for you to chose from. Let me know if I can help you.
If you do the above procedures, then you have established yourself a great backup plan for your website. Eventually, you will need to use these backup files, and it gives you piece of mind knowing the files are there when you need them.
I personally have used Dropbox for storage of my backup files and I recommend them to all my clients that use UpdraftPlus.
I also have used Amazon S3, and although it does take a little more time to set it up properly, It does a great job as well!
Do you have a backup plan? Which one do you use? I would love to hear your story in the comments below.