Mastering WordPress Backup and Restore: A Guide

Consider your WordPress website as an intricate masterpiece that holds uncountable hours of hard work, creativity, and valuable data. But what if, for some reasons like data breaches, erroneous updates, or accidental erasures, you lose this meticulously created asset? This is where the importance of Backup and Restore comes into play. This discussion aims to enlighten you about the significance of regular backups and restore options for your WordPress website, the different types of backups available like full backup, database backup, and file backup, as well as the beneficial use of tools like UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and VaultPress, which are engineered specifically to secure your website data. It further takes a practical dive into the steps for backing up and restoring your site, providing a navigation through manual backups using cPanel and phpMyAdmin.

Understanding the Importance of Backup and Restore

Why Backups are Critical for WordPress Websites

Every WordPress website is a dynamic ecosystem of grids, plugins, themes, and data. Backing up your WordPress site regularly and efficiently is crucial for multiple reasons. Despite being intuitive and simple to use, WordPress websites are not immune to problems related to data loss and site crashes. This could be a result of a variety of factors such as data corruption, human error, disasters, or site attacks by hackers. Regular backups minimize your risk of losing digital content and other pertinent information, ensuring that you have a safe and retrievable copy of your data.

Common Situations Necessitating a Website Restore

Situations where website restoration may be required are not uncommon. Here are a few instances where a WordPress restore could be imperative:

  1. Site Hacks: WordPress websites are popular targets for hackers because of their extensive use. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated WordPress plugins or themes to hack websites. If a website is compromised, it may be impossible to fix without a previous backup.
  2. Updates Gone Wrong: While patches and updates are critical for the website’s performance and security, sometimes, they can cause errors or unforeseen negative impacts on your WordPress website, resulting in a need for restoration.
  3. Accidental Deletion of Data: Human errors are also a significant reason why data backups are necessary. This might involve the accidental deletion of a crucial file or component from the website.

Understanding the Importance of Regular Backups

By performing regular WordPress backups, you ensure a greater level of data security and operational continuity for your site. It allows you to quickly recover and restore your website in case of a cyberattack, malfunction, or accidental data deletion.

Moreover, backups enable you to revert your website to a stable version in case of a failed update or any unexpected compatibility issues after installing a new plugin or theme. This can go a long way in ensuring the smooth operation of your website, helping you to maintain your online presence and reputation.

Therefore, setting up a regular backup process for your WordPress website is a great practice for any website owner. It ensures your preparedness for various eventualities and helps to maintain the function and integrity of your WordPress site at all times.

An image illustrating the importance of regular backups for WordPress websites

Types of Backups

Understanding Different Types of WordPress Backups

WordPress backup is typically categorized into three main types, namely full backup, database backup, and file backup.

Full Backup

A full backup, as the term implies, is a complete copy of the entire WordPress site. It includes all website files, including plugins, themes, media library files, and scripts, as well as the database which contains settings, users, comments, and posts. Full backups are comprehensive and can be used to restore your entire WordPress site to its previous state.

They are often used in regular maintenance routines to ensure a complete site backup is available if necessary, as well as prior to making major changes to the site, such as a complete redesign or significant updates.

Database Backup

A database backup only includes the WordPress site’s database, which contains all the site’s content, including posts, pages, user information, and comments. It does not include any of the website files like plugins, theme files, or media files.

Database backups are especially useful for sites that update content frequently, as they allow to recover the latest posts and changes without having to restore all the website files. Also, due to their smaller size compared to full backups, database backups can be carried out more frequently.

File Backup

A file backup refers to backing up all files associated with a WordPress site, except for the database. This includes core files, plugins, scripts, and media files. It does not include the files that contain data, settings, users, posts, or comments.

File backups are used when making changes to the WordPress core files, plugins, themes, or when adding new scripts. Due to the often large size of file backups, especially if the site has a large media library, these are often performed less frequently than database backups.

The process of backing up is critical to maintaining the health and security of a WordPress site. It’s a safety net for website owners, providing a recovery option in case of hacking, server failure, accidental deletion, or more. It’s advisable to maintain regular backups, and being aware of the different types of backups and when each is appropriate can help ensure that the most effective backup routine is in place.

Different Types of WordPress Backups, with examples of full backup, database backup, and file backup, as well as their importance for maintaining website health and security.

Popular Backup and Restore WordPress Tools

Understanding WordPress Backup and Restore Tools

WordPress backup and restore tools refer to specific plugins or systems used to save and retrieve data on a WordPress website. A WordPress backup is the process of storing all your website data in a safe location, whereas a restore involves recovering all your website data after a loss. Several tools are available to accomplish this task, and they vary based on their features and operation.

UpdraftPlus: A Comprehensive WordPress Backup and Restore Plugin

UpdraftPlus is a popular backup and restore plugin with over three million installations. The tool offers both manual and automated backups, allowing for backing up files and database into the cloud (Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) or on your computer. It offers the feature of restoring backups directly from your WordPress admin panel. This plugin also provides encrypted database backup options, ensuring data security. Another key feature is the ability to backup and restore not only your database but also themes, plugins, and more.

BackupBuddy: An Easy-to-Use WordPress Backup and Restore Plugin

BackupBuddy is an excellent choice for WordPress users seeking an accessible backup and restoration plugin. The tool offers comprehensive automated backups, scheduling, and instant email notifications. BackupBuddy allows storing backup data in a remote cloud location such as BackupBuddy Stash, Amazon S3, Dropbox, or your email. A unique feature that sets BackupBuddy apart is its ability to migrate a WordPress website from one server to another without any downtime.

VaultPress: A Real-Time WordPress Backup and Restore Plugin

VaultPress is a real-time backup and security scanning service designed and built by Automattic, the same company that operates (and backs up!) millions of sites on VaultPress provides daily or real-time syncing of all WordPress content. One of its core features is protection against hackers, malware, accidental damage, and host outages. VaultPress offers a calendar view of your backup history, enabling you to restore or download any backup from the past. It also provides backup statistics to help you understand the backup system better.

Studying and Comparing WordPress Backup and Restore Plugins

Before selecting a backup and restore plugin, it is crucial to compare each tool’s features and understand how they operate. For instance, some tools provide real-time backups, while others provide daily or scheduled backups. Cost can also influence in choosing the right tool since some plugins are free but offer limited functionalities, while others come with a subscription but provide comprehensive features. To make a well-informed decision, familiarize yourself with each plugin, consider your needs, budget, and technical proficiency, and take advantage of trial periods or free versions when available.

Image showcasing various plugins for WordPress backup and restore tools

Practical Steps in Backup and Restore

Step 1: Log into your WordPress Account

Firstly, sign in to your WordPress account. Go to the dashboard and select ‘Tools.’ Here, you’ll find the ‘Export’ option. Click on it to open the export settings.

Step 2: Export WordPress Content

In the export settings, you have two options: you can either ‘Export All’ or ‘Export [Specific Content].’ The ‘Export All’ option will allow you to download all of your content, including posts, pages, and comments. On another hand, the ‘Export [Specific Content]’ option lets you pick specific data to export. Save the exported file on your computer.

Step 3: Backup WordPress Database using cPanel

Next, log in to cPanel and find the ‘Files’ section. Click on ‘Backups.’ Under the ‘Download a MySQL Database Backup’, you’ll see a list of your databases. Click on the name of your WordPress database to download it to your computer.

Step 4: Backup WordPress Files using cPanel

Still in the cPanel, go to ‘File Manager’ under the ‘Files’ section. Look for public_html (or the name of your site’s root directory). Right-click on it and select ‘Compress.’ After the compression process, download the compressed file.

Manual Backup with phpMyAdmin

Another way to manually back up your site is via phpMyAdmin. From your cPanel dashboard, find the ‘Databases’ section and select ‘phpMyAdmin.’ Look for your WordPress database in the phpMyAdmin window and click ‘Export.’ In the export method, choose ‘Quick.’ For the format, make sure ‘SQL’ is selected, then click ‘Go.’ Save the SQL file to your computer.

Restoring Your WordPress Site

To restore your site, you’ll need to re-upload the content and re-import the database.

Step 1: Import WordPress Content

In your WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Tools’ and select ‘Import.’ Here, you’ll see a number of import options. Since you’ve previously exported your content in a WordPress file, select the ‘WordPress’ option. Locate your downloaded export file and click ‘Upload file and import.’

Step 2: Restoring WordPress Database using cPanel or phpMyAdmin

For cPanel, go to ‘Backups’ under the ‘Files’ section. Under ‘Restore a MySQL Database backup,’ click ‘Choose file’ then navigate to your downloaded database backup. Click ‘Upload’ to begin the restoration.

In phpMyAdmin, select your WordPress database and click ‘Import.’ Choose the saved SQL file from your computer and ensure the format is SQL, then click ‘Go.’ The import process may take a while, depending on the size of your database.

Step 3: Restoring WordPress Files

Lastly, repeat the uploading process as you did in the backup phase. Go to ‘File Manager’ in cPanel, navigate to your site’s root directory and click ‘Upload.’ Choose your downloaded compressed WordPress files and click ‘Open’ to start the restoring process.

Remember, Backing up and restoring your WordPress site is crucial for safekeeping your data. It’s recommended to perform regular backups according to the frequency of updates on your site.

Illustration of the steps to backup and restore a WordPress website

Photo by webfactoryltd on Unsplash

Securing the future of your WordPress site against any uncertainties is your responsibility and the right understanding of backups and restore methods is the key tool to fulfill this. Having learned about the different types of backups and their appropriate usage, you are now equipped to choose the right backup tool tailored to your needs. With a variety of options like UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and VaultPress, you can opt for the one that fits your requirements perfectly. Armed with the steps for manual backup and restore procedures, you are now standing on vantage ground. So remember, regular backups are not just the lifeline of your WordPress website; they are the unsung heroes that ensure your digital artwork remains timeless and unscathed, no matter what.

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Toby Cryns

Toby Cryns is a freelance CTO and WordPress Guru. He also writes for