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.