macbook with lacie hardrive for backing up wordpress site

Why and How to Back Up Your WordPress Site

Backing up a WordPress site is one of the most underrated activities. It seems like a task that doesn’t create profits, but administrators of hacked or broken sites know that this is a huge misconception. You will fully appreciate the value of a backup copy when hackers take control of your site or something goes terribly wrong.

The average user often neglects to back up their WordPress sites because they associate this task with a high level of skills, which is another misconception. Some plugins will do this task for you, but manually backing up your site isn’t rocket science.

This article will tell you all you need to know to back up your WordPress site and understand the mechanism behind it. We have also showcased a few noteworthy backup plugins that will give you that needed peace of mind.

Why You Should Back Up Your WordPress Site

You will pay closer attention to backing up your site if you know why it’s essential to have a functional backup copy. Here are a couple of scenarios highlighting the importance of a backup:

Your site got hacked. Yeah, you didn’t believe that you could be hacked until it happened. People who ignore backing up their site often don’t do too much to strengthen their site’s security. This is the ideal site-owner profile for hackers.

Your hosting service got hacked. You may have taken the best proactive steps to protect against hackers, but you can’t control the security of your hosting service. The only 100% efficient remedy against these situations is a complete backup copy of your site.

Your site malfunctioned. Maybe you deleted your site’s files by mistake and ended up in a total mess. You were probably desperate to resolve the technical issues and puzzled things even more. A recent backup copy will solve all your problems.

Your hosting service malfunctioned. It’s pretty rare, your host admin could make a critical mistake and break down your site. A backup copy gives you that needed peace of mind to focus on vital tasks.

How to Back Up a WordPress Site

There are two ways to create a backup copy of your site: manually or with plugins. I am a big fan of automation, so I use plugins. Still, I recommend taking a look at how to manually back up your WordPress site. It’s simple to do, and I will highlight all the steps so you can use the next paragraph as a checklist. Don’t be selfish—share it with your friends!

Manually Back Up a WordPress Site

What does a complete and functional backup copy mean? Anytime you perform a backup, you need to save two things:

  • A database (your site data is stored in tables)
  • All the files containing themes, plugins, uploads, and other items

Here is how to manually backup both your database and files:

  1. Open your file manager program (Filezilla is free, lightweight, and simple to use) and connect to your site host.
  2. You will see your WordPress files if you logged in to your host correctly. Select all the files, right click on them, and chose ‘Download’ to save them on your hard drive.
  3. Zip these files (unless they aren’t already zipped), name them properly, and make copies of them. Store these backups copies on your hard-drive, memory stick, and a CD—if one of these locations is compromised, you will still have backup copies on the other two. At this stage, your files are safe.
  4. Head to phpMyAdmin to save the database.
  5. Open the phpMyAdmin panel, and select the ‘Database’ tab. Choose your website’s database and click the ‘Check All’ option to select all of your files.

select database in phpmyadmin

  1. Click on the Export button, select SQL format, press Go, and your database will be saved.

export database in phpmyadmin

  1. In the phpMyAdmin tab might be more databases. If you don’t know the name of your database, go to wp-config.php and search for this line:

define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name’);

‘database_name’ is the name of your database to back up.

That is all you have to do to back up your WordPress site. To roughly estimate, all these steps should take you a maximum of 10 minutes a day. It’s not a big deal, but you can save this time by using plugins.

Tip: If you know GIT, you can also create a copy of your WordPress site to be stored on your servers. This is something you should also consider for precautionary measures.

Back Up a WordPress Site with Plugins

Luckily for us, developers have created efficient and reliable plugins to back up a WordPress website. Some of them are free, while others are freemium or premium. Here is a handpicked list of backup plugins, but there are many other good alternatives. You have no excuse if you don’t use a backup plugin.

1. UpdraftPlus

updraft plus wordpress backup plugin

UpdraftPlus is one of the most famous backup plugins, and it’s highly appreciated by users. It comes in two versions: free and premium. The free version is available in the WordPress repository, and it has fantastic stats: over one million active installs and a rating of 4.8 stars out of five. The paid version comes with all the features of the free version and a few additional ones, such as all UpdraftPlus add-ons (automatic backup, migrator, importer, enhanced reporting), free upgrades and support for one year, and 1 GB storage on the UpdraftPlus servers.

This plugin allows you to keep your backup copies in multiple destinations (Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3, and Microsoft OneDrive, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure for premium users).

2. BackupBuddy

backup buddy

BackupBuddy is another plugin massively used by WordPress users that distinguishes itself with flexible backup options, granular control over backups, and efficient restoration.

First, BackupBuddy lets you decide what you want to backup: only the database, specific files, or the entire site, or exclude particular files. Second, it empowers users to schedule backups: hourly, daily, every other day, monthly, or at customised intervals. Third, restoration is pretty simple, which is extremely useful for less-trained users.

3. Duplicator

duplicator plugin

Duplicator is a cloning plugin. The name is self-explanatory, but it can be used for creating manual backup copies of a site. It deserves your full attention taking into account its fame, the rating, and testimonials. It empowers you to back up a WordPress site or parts of it manually. The pro version comes with scheduled backups, cloud storage, email notifications, and professional support.

4. BackWPup

backwpup plugin

Another worth-mentioning backup plugin is BackWPup. It’s a working suggestion for users on tight budgets that have decent WordPress knowledge. BackWPup does complete database and file backups, and it creates a list of installed plugins. These backups are, in fact, an archive (multiple formats allowed such as .zip or .tar), and restoring a copy means simply uploading that archive. Easy-peasy!

5. WP-DB-Backup

wp db backup plugin

The name says everything about this plugin: it saves the database of your WordPress site. With it, you back up the site’s files manually. I recommend using WP-DB-Backup if you rarely update your site. It’s a lightweight plugin that won’t slow down the loading speed—a huge bonus these days.

6. Vaultpress


Automattic is a famous company amongst WordPress users. Vaultpress is a product of Automattic, and it’s a part of Jetpack—a complex plugin extensively used by millions of users. You will get a backup solution from a top provider by using Vaultpress. Additionally, it considerably strengthens your site’s security, fights against spam, and helps you to migrate your site.

If you read these lines, you have been warned about the capital role of a backup copy and have been given reliable solutions to automate this activity. Once again, you have no excuse if you don’t back up your WordPress site!

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About Daniel Pintilie

Daniel PintilieDaniel is an Internet geek focused on writing actionable content. He loves showcasing WordPress tricks and tips and online marketing strategies. In his spare time, Daniel reads history books and plays football.

100 Tips for Maintaining Your WordPress Site

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