Skip to content

Backup Solutions For WordPress

Backing up your blog is something you’ll probably only start doing once you’ve lost everything. That’s probably not the best idea. In this post we’ll look at the various options available — the plugins, services and manual ways of backing up your blog.

As I see it, there are a couple of ways of doing things. There’s the manual option, the free plugin, the premium plugin and soon there’ll also be the Automattic option, VaultPress. Each has pros and cons which I’ll outline in this post. At the end there’ll also be the opportunity to win a copy of BackupBuddy, the premium plugin we’ll be taking a look at. You’ll have to actually read the post to get to the competition.

Backing up WordPress manually

I’ll start with a warning: backing up your blog manually probably isn’t a good idea. You’ll forget. Your computer will self implode. Aliens will attack. The general jist of it is that you’ll forget to make that all important backup. And that’d be bad. But say you’ve just made a client site and want to just make a quick backup. In that case, manually might be the best way. There are plenty of online backup clients to get the job done.

Option 1: export posts, download theme

It’s really easy to export your posts, pages, custom fields, comments etc: under ‘Tools’ click ‘Export’ and then download the export file. That’s all your posts done.

The next bit is literally what it sounds like: login to your FTP and just download the theme, zip it up and name it something sensible like WPShout theme backup 01-01-1999.

Option 2: MySQL export through phpMyAdmin

If you’ve got plugins and the like too then you’ll want to export your database through phpMyAdmin.

Login to phpMyAdmin, select your database and click the ‘Export’ tab. Next you’ll need to export your database as shown below:

And that’s all there is too it. Simple enough, but a pain to do repeatedly. As always, some pros and cons of backing up manually:

Pros Cons
You don’t need any plugins You’ll forget
It’s easy to do It’s a pain to do repeatedly
Good for sites that get updated only occasionally Impractical for large collections of sites

The free plugin

I’d always used WordPress Database Backup for backing up my site, getting it to send an email every 24 hours with the database of my site.

It literally just backs up your database and nothing else, so you’ll need to have separate backups of your theme and plugins (and even uploads too).

It’s not fair to criticise it though, it doesn’t claim to do anything else and does backup the database well, giving you quite a few options:

I’d recommend this to everyone. It’s free and you can just get it to email a backup to an empty email account (set up a Gmail for the purpose). It’s such an important thing to have, whilst this is backing up at its most basic, it’s still worth having.
Pros Cons
Set it and forget it. Until you need it, that is. You’ll still need backups of things like your theme
Offers fairly advanced backing up options
It’s free!
Scheduled backups

Yeah, you might as well use it.

The paid plugin

Plugin Buddy recently burst on the scene, from the guys behind iThemes. They’ve been very successful so far and after trying out BackupBuddy I can see why (I’m using no affiliate links here — I genuinely think it’s great).

Obviously it does other things too, but strictly from a backup point of view it’s good. It does the database plus your theme, plugins and even widgets too which is handy. You can set backups to email or upload to an FTP although the email option makes more sense as chances are you’ll need the backup because you can’t get onto your host or something like that.

I’ll say no more about BackupBuddy — I certainly think it’s the best option here and for $25 it’s good value (and although they’ll try and sell it to you like you can’t use it on more than one site at a time, there’s nothing to stop you using BackupBuddy on as many sites as you like as it’s licensed under the GPL).

Cory Miller has kindly offered five copies of BackupBuddy to WPShout readers — to enter you’ll have to leave a comment and briefly outline a post you’d like to see on WPShout in the future. Suggestions like “um, a tutorial…” or useless suggestions (at my discretion) won’t count. Something like “an in depth look at all the different backup plugins available” would be an excellent suggestion.

The Automattic option

Soon you’ll be able to use VaultPress too — the Automattic option. At the time of writing, all I know is that it backs up everything for an unspecified monthly fee. If it’s priced right, it’ll be a brilliant option although even if it’s $10/month, that’s still what most people pay for their hosting so it’s unlikely they’d shell out that again for a backup.

Go and backup!

It’s always the case with these things. You only do one after it’s too late and you’ve lost everything, at which point you’ll think must backup and then do it twice and never again. Backing up is so important and as this post has showed, relatively easy to do too, so go and do it! Go on, off! You’ll thank me one day.

Yay! 🎉 You made it to the end of the article!
Alex Denning

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 5, 2010 5:54 am

I’ve been using the WP database backup plugin for quite some time now for automatic DB backup. I also always make extra manual backups for the files (themes/plugins.) But this is really not the best way especially when you have a lot of clients sites. BackupBuddy seems like a really good solution I’d love to try it. Plus it seems that the plugin makes the restoring process quite easy which is also great if you simply want to move a WP installation from a server to another one.

About the topic idea, I’d be personally interested about a comparison of the different ways to “mobilize” a WordPress site…both frontend and backend. There’s been a couple of differents plugins /solutions poping up lately. Mobile web is really getting big with all these iPad, iphone and other mobile devices. I think that’d be interesting to compare them (themes and / or plugins) to see what would work best depending on the situation.

Brett Widmann
October 28, 2010 1:09 am

Thanks for the great tips and information!

Arania Jain
May 4, 2010 7:31 pm


First of all, thanks for presenting options available. Most users don’t even know about them at all.

I would like to read some posts on optimizing WordPress for high traffic sites, including steps that everyone should take to improve the performance. Please include all factors associated (eg. themes, plugins, cache, cdn, etc.)

Looking forward to more quality posts.


Debbie Lattuga
May 4, 2010 2:52 pm

Thanks for the timely reminder. Off to backup… BTW would love to see an in depth review of mobile phone wordpress plugins. Since more and more mobile phones have internet access, I’d like my site to be pretty and functional on a mobile phone.

Chip Bennett
May 3, 2010 8:02 pm

Very nice overview of various backup options!

How about a future post on what you would like to see in the default WordPress theme (e.g. Twentyten, Twentyeleven, etc.) with respect to features, template tags, code clarity? Would you prefer a theme that simply looks great and represents a great, no-hassles front-end option for new WordPress users, or would you prefer a theme that is well-documented, with easy-to-read code that represents a great learning tool for WordPress users wanting to understand template files, tags, and theme development?

Don Markie
May 2, 2010 1:54 pm

I can vouch for the Automatic WordPress Backup plugin at

I’ve been using it for the last month and it’s just a set n forget type of system. Though the vault press service might interesting. I hope the plugins somehow incorporate the functionality into their code.

Mark Christianson
April 29, 2010 9:15 pm

Thanks a lot for this information, Ive been struggling to find a solid solution for a video game site that I run using wordpress as the engine. We had a little scare not long ago and the thought of losing data really brought this to light.

Will have to look into the backup buddy

Facebook Like, WP-Backup, Mailarchivierung, Panorama Bilder
April 29, 2010 1:02 pm

[…] gesichert. Doch hat nicht jeder die Möglichkeit Backups mit Hilfe von Cronjobs zu machen.Alex stellt in seinem Blog einige Plugins oder auch andere Möglichkeiten vor, wie man die Daten eines WordPress-Blogs […]

April 28, 2010 9:38 pm

Great article. I’m looking forward for next posts. What about Advertisment system in WordPress? Thanks 😉

April 28, 2010 7:02 am

Hi. Good post and very timely for me. I use database backup and manually bring across my other files via ftp. Would love to get a backup buddy sub!
I would be very interested in a post that reviewed slideshow plugins and the different types of slideshows available. I am yet to find anything that works well AND is attractive, I seem to be sacrificing one or the other!

Setting up Wordpress
April 27, 2010 6:55 pm

[…] Backup Solutions For WordPress | […]

Freelance Design - What I'm Reading » WordPress Worth Reading - Fredericton Web Design
April 27, 2010 1:33 pm

[…] seriously worried about WordPress, there is an article on backing up WordPress or this one (Backup Solutions For WordPress) on doing it […]

April 27, 2010 6:54 am

I use same plugin as in post for database. My only issue with it that I have to check it from time to time (good idea in any case), it had stopped working on few occasions.

I had tried several methods for backing up files. Ended up with scheduled WinSCP script that logins to hosting via SSH, zips all of site contents, timestamps and downloads into Dropbox folder.

April 27, 2010 4:38 am

Thanks for the article. I still do my WP backups the old way in that the web server’s directory is rsync’d and then the mysql db is mirrored. For my clients that don’t host with my traditional setup, that plugin looks handy.

Handy enough that I’d at least like to win a copy of it.

An article I’d like to see? Well, I’ve only been following the site for a few months so maybe I just missed an article on wordpress mu but if I haven’t, I’d really like to know more.

If not that maybe in this article’s same vein, how to make sure your site is ready for a major WP upgrade!

April 27, 2010 1:43 am

Great article, and yes, backing up your blog is a must. It nearly saved me the other day when my host’s MySql server crashed.

In regards to what I’d like to see on WPShout, more tutorials on creating and tweaking themes would be great. I love your ebook on getting started with creating WP themes, and more in-depth theme info would be great. Otherwise, keep up the good work; WPShout is one of my favorite blogs about WordPress!

April 27, 2010 12:27 am

Have been using WP-DBManager for a while now but really impressed with your comments re Backup Buddy and will likely go that way due to the benefits when building and transferring test sites.

With regards to articles I really need someone to explain how custom posts types, custom write panels and custom taxonomies can work together.

I need to create custom data input “pages” in the WP admin are for clients to easily add “standardised” data fields.

I also need to be able to search the data that has been entered to deliver results based upon certain fields in the search.

Could use custom fields I guess but want to be making the effort to learn the new way of doing things based on WP 3.0 new features.

Sara Cormeny
April 26, 2010 10:12 pm

Thanks for this! I also like using MySQL Administrator, a free piece of software for the Mac, for connecting to my server directly and downloading a backup of the WordPress database, as an alternative to the phpMyAdmin route. Usually you have to do a little bit of work the first time you back up using MySQL Administrator to figure out the exact addressing and passwords and with my host,, I also have to set up my IP address specially so that the server will let me do the download (I like that precaution, even if it means an extra step).

Thanks also for the reminder to backup the uploads folder and files — that’s one thing I always seem to forget to do!

I’d love to learn more about working with Media files, and also about Thumbnails. I’ve used them both some, but not very much, and always want to learn more!

April 26, 2010 10:02 pm

Great post !
I use WordPress Database Backup, i did not now about the Buddy Plugin nor the Automattic solution. Thanks

To use your words, “an in depth look at all the different” WordPress Shop solutions is a post i would like to see/read.

Or start the conversation in our Facebook group for WordPress professionals. Find answers, share tips, and get help from other WordPress experts. Join now (it’s free)!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Most Searched Articles

Best JavaScript Libraries and Frameworks: Try These 14 in 2024

In this post, we look at the best JavaScript libraries and frameworks to try out this year. Why? Well, with JavaScript being available in every web browser, this makes it the most accessible programming language of ...

20 Best Free WordPress Themes for 2024 (Responsive, Mobile-Ready, Beautiful)

If you're looking for only the best free WordPress themes in the market for this year, then you're in the right place. We have more than enough such themes for you right ...

12 Best WordPress Hosting Providers of 2024 Compared and Tested

Looking for the best WordPress hosting that you can actually afford? We did the testing for you. Here are 10+ best hosts on the market ...

Handpicked Articles

How to Make a WordPress Website: Ultimate Guide for All Users – Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced

Many people wonder how to make a WordPress website. They’ve heard about WordPress, its incredible popularity, excellent features and designs, and now they want to join the pack and build a WordPress website of their own. So, where does one get ...

How to Start an Ecommerce Business: Ultimate Guide for 2024

Is this going to be the year you learn how to start an eCommerce business from scratch? You’re certainly in the right place! This guide will give you a roadmap to getting from 0 to a fully functional eCommerce business. ...