How to Backup a WordPress site (4 Best and Easiest Ways)

Backing up your WordPress website is very easy. In this post, we will learn how to backup WordPress sites in 4 different ways.

“Backup my website”. Maybe this is a note that you see on your to-do list every day and this is the task that keeps on pending! It is one of those tasks that you think “yeah, I will do it tomorrow”. But backing up your WordPress website is a crucial part of your work. Imagine if the next day you cannot log into your site or after updating a certain plugin crashes your website. You will be in deep trouble if you don’t have a backup of your files.

Websites are hacked more often than you think. It might not be surprising to find your WordPress website hacked one day. But if you have a backup of your website, you don’t have to worry because you can recover your work easily. 

If you suspect that your website is hacked, you can read our article on what to do if your WordPress site is hacked. We discussed what are the signs of a WordPress website being hacked and how you can resolve this issue.

You can use VPN services to keep you safe online but having a safe backup of your website will save you a lot of trouble. In this article, we will be discussing How to backup WordPress site and other relevant important topics.

Various ways to back up your WordPress website

There are 4 most common methods for backing up your WordPress website. You can create backups of your website using any of the methods above. We will be discussing the following:

  • How to backup WordPress site manually
  • How to backup WordPress website using plugins
  • How to backup WordPress website using a hosting tool
  • How to backup WordPress website using cPanel

How often should you backup your website?

The direct answer to the question varies. Say if you update your website daily, then you should have a daily backup. But even if your backup is a few days old, that might be fine but you have to redo all those recent works. Depending on how often you make changes to your website, you have to have a clean backup.

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So, create a backup plan for your website. Do keep in mind that your backup takes extra space on your server storage. You can store your backup files on your local drive or you can also store the files on the cloud like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. Just make sure that the storage is safe and secure as well.

To ensure that your website is running smoothly it is imperative to perform daily maintenance tasks besides backing up. There are various maintenance services for WordPress you can use to keep your site healthy. You can check out our list of the best WordPress maintenance services and keep your website healthy.

👉 How to backup WordPress site manually

The backup process involves copying all the files of your website including your database and exporting them into another location. This process can be done with FTP clients such as FileZilla.

For most people with WordPress websites, it is best to take backups with plugins. But if you don’t want to install more plugins, you can manually back up your site. As we have mentioned earlier, there are two parts to backup your website. These are:

  • Files
  • Database

You have to first download all your website files using FTP (or a file manager) and then export your database using phpMyAdmin (or a similar tool). In order to manually do this, follow the steps defined below:

Downloading WordPress files manually

To download your WordPress website’s files, you need to connect your website’s server with your FTP client like FileZilla. If you are using FileZilla, you need the credentials from your host provider. In this demonstration, we will be using cPanel File Manager which is a much simpler route.

Step 1: Log in to your cPanel and find File Manager

In order to use the File Manager, you have to access your cPanel. Log into your cPanel and open your File Manager.

file manager from cPanel

Step 2: Find and compress your WordPress root folder

Once inside your File Manager, you will need to find the folder that consists of your WordPress files. Generally, the folder is named public_html. It might also have the name of your domain. Right-click on that folder and click on Compress. 

P.S. If you are using some other tools, there might be an option to directly download the folder. But since we are doing this with the default File Manager, we have to compress it before downloading.

compressing public_html from file manager

Step 3: Download and save the zip file

Depending on the size of your website, your compression speed varies. After the files are compressed, you can download the ZIP file and save them on storage.

downloading public_html file

Downloading your database manually

Now that you have downloaded and saved your website files. The next thing you have to do to complete the backup process is to download your database.

Step 1: Log in to your phpMyAdmin and find your database

You can access your phpMyAdmin panel from cPanel.

opening phpmyadim from cpanel

Step 2: Exporting your database

After you have gained access to your site’s phpMyAdmin, find the database for your website. It’s located on the left side menu. You can also select the Databases tab located on the top bar

Databases in phpmyadmin

Click on the database of your WordPress website. Now on the top menu bar, click on ‘Export’. It will take you to another screen. Here you can select between Quick and Custom export methods. Selecting custom will show all the tables of the database. If you are not sure, you can select the Quick method which will export all the tables for you.

exporting tables from phpmyadmin

Also, you can select the format in which your database will be downloaded. You can select SQL or PHP. Here we are downloading the SQL format.

Step 3: Downloading and saving the database file

Once you are sure of the export methods, hit download and it will ask you to choose the storage location. Save it on your local drive and your database will be downloaded.

That’s about it. You now have the compressed files of your website along with its database. With that, you have successfully made a backup of your website.

Restoring WordPress backup manually

If you want to restore the backup that you just made, you have to do all the previous steps in reverse! Don’t worry, we are still going to go step by step and show you how you can restore the backup manually.

Step 1: Access your file manager and upload your zip file

Similar to the first step in the manual backup process, access your File Manager. From here you will find an upload button on the top menu. Before uploading, make sure that the file that you are about to upload doesn’t have the same name as the existing folder. For example, if you already have a public_html folder, change its name to something else. After you are done, click the button and select the zip file that you downloaded previously.

extracting public_html.zip file

Extract the contents of the zip file.

Step 2: Importing the database

Now that all your WordPress files are restored, you need to import your database. Go to your phpMyAdmin and select your database. Now click on ‘Import’ and select the SQL file that you had downloaded earlier.

importing database

After you have selected the file, click on ‘Go’ and your database will be restored

After you have completed the above steps, you will have successfully made a recovery of your WordPress site!

👉 How to backup WordPress website using plugins

Another simple and most preferred way of performing backups is using a backup plugin. There are several plugins that you can use to backup your website. But the backup can be divided into two categories.

  • Full-site backup: As the name suggests, these plugins backup your entire website files, and databases. This does require a lot more space on your server storage.
  • Incremental backup: These plugins make a full backup of your website. Then back up the changes that you make to your website. This puts less pressure on your storage. The incremental backup plugins are generally costly. Some of the popular incremental plugins are VaultPress, BlogVault, ManageWP, etc.

We will be taking the full-site and free backup approach. We are using UpdraftPlus to demonstrate the backup process in this tutorial. Also, a thing to note, UpdraftPlus also provides Incremental backup but that is a paid feature. You can check out our post on the best WordPress backup plugins to learn more about such tools.

Step 1: Install and activate UpdraftPlus

You can download and install UpdraftPlus from wordpress.org or search for it from your WordPress dashboard. From your WordPress dashboard go to Plugins > Add New > Search UpdraftPlus.

installing updraftplus plugin from WordPress dashboard

The developer of UpdraftPlus is UpdraftPlus.com. Simply click on ‘Install’ and ‘Activate’ to add this plugin to your WordPress website. This will include a new option on your WordPress dashboard.

Step 2: Open UpdraftPlus and select backup storage

From your WordPress dashboard go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups. Before you start your backup you need to select the storage for your backup. Click the Settings tab and below you will find some backup settings. Feel free to look around this section but we are interested in the remote storage option.

updraftplus remote storage options

As you can see, there are various storage options. Select the one you have access to. We are going to select Google Drive. After you select your storage, you need to authenticate your Google account to finish the setup.

Once you have selected your storage, scroll down and hit ‘Save Changes’

Step 3: Backup now!

After you have selected your remote backup storage, navigate to the Backup/Restore tab and press the Backup Now button.

Backup using updraftplus

Now you will have the options to include/exclude your database and website files in the backup. It will also give you the option to send the backup files directly to your remote storage (Google Drive in our case). We recommend checking these 3 options. Hit Backup Now once again and UpdraftPlus will backup your website and database files.

taking a new backup using updraftplus

Step 4: Check out your existing backups

Once UpdraftPlus is done backing up your website, you can check out the existing backup section to see your backups.

existing backups of updraftplus

To restore your website, simply click on the ‘Restore’ button on any of your backups and follow the on-screen instructions.

How to backup a WordPress website using a hosting tool

If you are using a good and reputable hosting service, they’ll provide you with tools to backup your website. Many of them give you access to cPanel and others have their own unique interface. You can create backups from cPanel and also use the backup option that your hosting provider has. Check with your host and see if they offer a backup service.

A good hosting provider always makes sure that your website is healthy and running smoothly. If you want to learn more about good hosting services, you can check out our post on the best WordPress hosting services.

👉 How to backup a WordPress website using cPanel

cPanel provides you with two options to backup your website. The Backup option and the Backup Wizard. Many hosting services like HostGator, GoDaddy, etc. give you access to cPanel. If you do get access to it, you can backup your website using the following method:

Using the cPanel Backup option:

Step 1: Select the Backup option

Log in to your cPanel at first. After you are logged in, locate the Files section and select Backup. We will also look at how the Backup Wizard works. But for now, let’s open the Backup option.

accessing Backup option from cPanel

Step 2: Select a Backup to download

In this section, you will find a couple of options related to your website backup. You can press the “Download a Full Account Backup” which will direct you to another screen. A full backup will download all the files and configurations of your website and create a compressed or archived file.

selecting backup option

Step 3: Generate backup

From this section, you can select the Backup Destination to Home Directory, Remote FTP, or Secure Copy. After that, put in your email address and select ‘Generate Backup’. This will initiate the backup process.

creating a full backup of the website

Step 4: Download the backup

After the backup file is ready, you can now proceed to download your files. Simply press the ‘Go Back’ button and you will find your files are ready to be downloaded. If you have logged out of your cPanel, you can go back to the Backup menu again to find your backup. 

downloading the generated backup

Just click on the backup copy to download and you will have a backup of your website.

Now let’s see how you can backup using the Backup Wizard:

Step 1: Open your Backup Wizard

From cPanel, open Backup Wizard.

selecting Backup Wizard from cPanel

Step 2: Select your backup type

Here you can either select a full backup or a partial backup. We are selecting ‘Full Backup’ but you can choose the backup you want and proceed to the next step.

selecting backup option from Backup Wizard

Step 3: Download the backup

Once you head to step 3, you will be brought to a familiar section. This is where you can download your backup.

downloading backup from Backup Wizard

Just click on the backup and your download should start immediately. If you create multiple backups, make sure that you download the latest one. 

👉 VPS snapshots and more

Many hosting providers have some unique methods of backups. For example, DigitalOcean uses a snapshot-based backup system that creates a point-in-time image based on the current state of a server. Vultr also uses a similar method that creates a snapshot of the whole Vultr instance and saves the files to the cloud. 

Snapshot is a common feature of any VPS service provider. They also have other scheduled backup features which you need to find from their support docs.

Conclusion

Backing up your WordPress website is very important. It is also very easy as you can see. You can manually backup your site, use plugins like UpdraftPlus or if you are using a good hosting service, they might also provide a backup tool. 

It is ok to manually backup your site if you don’t mind the extra work but it is also time taking. Using a plugin, you can schedule automatic backups and when you run into a hiccup, you can easily recover your site. Also, make sure that the storage that you are putting your website files in is safe and secure. We hope that you found this post helpful. What method do you use to backup your WordPress website? Let us know in the comment section.


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