How To Backup WordPress: Guide to Free & Premium Services and Plugins
The backup procedure is a standard practice of creating a separate website copy to be used for replacing a damaged website. In the WordPress context, a backup comprises your WordPress theme, plugins, databases (posts, comments, users, pages, etc.) and other critical data.
Taking care of backups is virtually part of a website maintenance routine you as a WordPress website administrator need to get used to.
It’s not wise to ignore or postpone regular backups since you never know when your website might get hacked, or when you by mistake apply wrong settings that may lead to data corruption and a website mess-up.
You should be especially concerned with backups if your website deals with financial transactions, membership accounts, personal and security information. It’s generally recommended to store backups in up to three different locations.
As for how to go through the process, that breaks down to be:
- Manual / automatic WordPress website backup (doesn’t require extra plugins) at the server level.
- Manual / automatic backups through dedicated WordPress backup plugins.
Which one is best suited to you? Let’s see.
How to back up WordPress without plugins
It doesn’t take a steep learning curve. However, it may sound a little bit more complicated for WordPress novices. If for some reason you don’t want to use backup WordPress plugins, you are free to back up WordPress at the server (hosting) level or manually via FTP and hosting consoles (manipulating the website files directly).
But before we take a closer look at these approaches, is there any good reason you should rack your brain and fuss with a backup without plugins?
You be the judge. Manual WordPress backup implies you are independent since you don’t entrust your website to third-party plugins. Hence, you don’t need to worry about plugin reliability, compatibility with other activated plugins or pay any money for a service. Another thing is that, on contrary to manual backups, a lot of free WordPress backup plugins store your website files in the wp-content folder, which means your backup may not be totally safe in case your website gets hacked. Moreover, almost all solid WordPress hosting companies today provide hands-off automatic backups.
As for drawbacks…
The downside of this approach is clear – you’ll need to dig into the process yourself, sometimes define which particular components of your WordPress website need to be backed up in case of small damage, and there is a risk to lose data if you opt for manual procedures, which are more error-prone.
Let’s now take a closer look at the most popular options:
Automatic WordPress backups through your hosting server
First and foremost, hosting is the most crucial powerhouse of your website. If you are sure you use a trustworthy and solid hosting provider, you can configure website files and database backups at the server level.
Many hosting providers offer automatic backups, so your task is to just figure out the procedure and prices. You can schedule regular backups through the medium of your host and request a website copy (which is generally stored on a different server) when it’s required.
It’s a no-brainer spot-on solution for many users since it allows to go with a dedicated backup schedule automatically.
Manual WordPress backups through your hosting server
You can manually export your WordPress website data to different locations. Depending on your host, you’ll be offered to work via different backup-related consoles.
Since an open-source phpMyAdmin software comes pre-installed on the vast majority of hosting servers, you’ll most likely be able to export a database in clicks and save it as a .zip file. Further, you can store it at different locations (e.g. your PC, Google Drive) to replace an unavailable or damaged website when needed.
To move website files, you’ll need to work in a host cPanel using any FTP client for transferring data (popular ones are FileZilla and Cyberduck for both Windows and Mac). To create a backup copy, you’ll need to select all website files of your root directory to transfer to your PC manually (kind of drag and drop). If you find this method more attractive, check for a detailed guide with your host.
If you prefer to jump-start backup automation and restoration, which will 99% provide peace of mind, you should take a closer look at premium and free WordPress backup plugins.
The list of the best WordPress backup plugins and services
Automated WordPress backup options are holistically provided by plugins. Let’s walk you through the most recognized solutions.
VaultPress is one of the top popular choices since it’s crafted by Automattic, WordPress creators and one of the most reliable companies in the industry. It’s not just about the name though.
This plugin offers a very user-friendly backup process and easy website restoration from backup – it’s as simple as logging into your account and clicking “Restore”. To keep track of all your backups, you’ll be provided with a backups calendar and handy backup configuration settings. In addition to that, VaultPress is good at delivering daily website scans, spam protection, and straightforward backup management tools.
It’s now available through the medium of Jetpack – a Swiss Army knife WordPress plugin. Running on a subscription-based model, VaultPress provides scheduled backup services starting at less than $4 per month, which is pretty affordable. The cheapest plan covers automated daily backups, uptime monitoring, unlimited storage space, protection from spam and more essentials.
The plugin will unlikely slow down your website or cause any other commonly known issues some heavy plugins are known for giving rise to.
This plugin rolls up one of the safest server infrastructures and professional support into one service. You can use this benchmark plugin without being afraid it may vanish tomorrow.
Backup your site with VaultPress »
BackupBuddy by iThemes is another top popular WordPress backup solution that has been around since 2010. It allows you to automatically back up your website on a regular basis and save copies on several remote locations (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc.).
It’s very easy to back up WordPress with this plugin as well as restore your website from backup; the plugin supports both full and partial restoration, which is handy for massive websites.
The most affordable “Blogger” plan (available at $52 a year) offers 1GB storage space, one year of access to Stash Live (a cloud-based real-time backups to add one more protection layer for your website) and a bunch of other premium features. For example, it provides a website migration to a new server or host, built-in security and optimization tools, instant email notifications and loads of other essential tools. This plugin is also going to monitor your website for issues like hacks, malware, user errors, deleted files, and bad commands.
If you thoroughly go through all features, you’ll see that this solution offers one of the most valuable price-performance ratios for all types of websites.
Backup your site with BackupBuddy »
BlogVault is one of the top performing freemium backup plugins. It’s packed with tons of essential features in addition to fundamental ones: easily scheduled WordPress backups and hassle-free restoration options. The plugin received a bunch of good feedback from the industry experts as well as users.
One of the most valuable features of this plugin is no doubt an automatic zero-configuration website restoration from backup. So if your website is damaged, you can get it back to normal pretty fast without a need to dig into any guides or tech stuff. The plugin also offers one of the longest terms for keeping your backup – a 90-day archive. Other on-demand tools are also bundled: an intelligent migration service to a new domain, host or server, malware scanning, login protection with CAPTCHA, backup storage on the external servers (Dropbox, Amazon S3) and loads of other useful things. You can get access to all these features at a minimum of $89 per year.
An extra mile from this plugin, which we are sure will be very important for WordPress users of all calibers, is a free staging site run on the BlogVault server. It will allow you to safely test any changes before publishing them.
Backup your site with BlogVault »
UpdraftPlus is another well-known fully-featured WordPress backup, restoration and migration plugin. The free version of this plugin is currently used by over two million people.
The plugin is doing its primary job perfectly by offering automatic scheduled backup of WordPress files and databases (including custom backup times and incremental backups), no-trouble restoration from backup, database encryption options, a complete backup reporting, and monitoring.
Even within a free version, it offers the widest range of the off-site servers to store your backups: own Vault, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Rackspace, Google Drive (the premium version gives more options of cloud storage).
The premium version of this plugin can be a spot-on solution for both small websites and WordPress multisite networks or enterprise-grade businesses that deal with massive websites. The pricing tag is quite affordable, starting at $70 a year for two domains.
Backup your site with UpdraftPlus »
BackWPup is a freemium WordPress plugin that differentiates itself from the competitor thanks to quite a feature-rich free version. So if you are looking for a solid free backup plugin, BackWPup is worth giving a try.
However, if you need an all-inclusive, the premium version has its all: scheduled file and database backups (including synchronization to a variety of the off-site servers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Glacier, Amazon S3), backup restoration in clicks, an ability to encrypt backup archives, hassle-free emergency restoration and more features to support you through the process.
To take better care of your plugins, you may generate the list of them through this backup plugin and make sure all of them are back during the restoration. If you run a network of sites, note that a smooth work with WordPress multisite is provided.
The pricing of $69 per year, which covers tech support and a whole bunch of features, is quite affordable for a small business or personal website.
Backup your site with BackWPup »
6. WP Time Capsule
WP Time Capsule plugin is on an equal footing with its competitors regarding feature availability, the ease of automatic backup and restoration, and price performance. Making use of this plugin, however, you’ll experience a bit different approach in backing up your website files and databases.
For example, the plugin backs up and restores only the changed files and databases instead of the entire website, thus, consuming fewer server resources. The same goes for the restoration – the plugin will restore only selected backed up data, which is going to be a much faster process than restoring the whole website.
The plugin interface is very straightforward – you’ll be able to choose a date and time in a calendar to which you’d need to restore the changes. What’s more, the plugin provides a staging environment where you can test updates before restoring a website.
As for the storage, you’ll be able to store backups files in the cloud on Dropbox, Google Drive, Wasabi, or Amazon S3. The cheapest Pro plan is $49 per year, which deploys the whole range of tools for smart backups.
Backup your site with WP Time Capsule »
CodeGuard offers ready-made website backup restoration services for different platforms, including WordPress. You can connect your WordPress to CodeGuard through the medium of a CodeGuard plugin.
The backup method of this plugin is pretty similar to the WP Time Capsule: it monitors for any website changes and makes backups based on those updates automatically. When needed, you can restore your website in clicks quite easily. All backups are stored on the Amazon S3 (you can also download them to your PC). The plugin is not overloaded with unnecessary tools so that you can use it purposefully starting at $5 per month.
Backup your site with CodeGuard »
A WordPress website backup is just one of the features Duplicator has to offer. The list of jobs of this plugin includes an ability to copy and migrate a website to a new domain or host from one location to another. It’s a must-have tool for many developers who create websites for clients in a staging environment and then need to move the final work to a production environment. However, you can also use it to run backups regardless of a type of your website.
Best of all, backup is a free feature, but it requires manual setup, which might not be very handy for beginners. The pro version of Duplicator, however, allows you to configure scheduled backups and move them to Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3 or FTP/SFTP to store website copies.
You can get Duplicator Pro for just $49 per year. Keep in mind that restoration from backup is not going to be as easy as with the rest of backup-dedicated plugins we’ve presented in this collection.
Backup your site with Duplicator »
What is the best WordPress backup plugin?
Backup is fundamental for a website data protection; each website requires regular backups. This reason alone has given a rise to a jungle of the WordPress backup plugins and services. To choose the best solution for your particular case, you should consider different dimensions. If you are on a powerful, quality host, which offers hands-off backups, you can get by without third-party plugins.
When you need more premium features, a better choice of the cloud servers or prefer a specific backup procedure; plugins are a great way to go. If you are looking for rather an out-of-the-box solution that works without too much fuss, you can go with BlogVault, VaultPress, UpdraftPlus, WP Time Capsule or BackupBuddy. Furthermore, UpdraftPlus comes with one of the richest choices of the cloud storage space alternatives. A free version of BackWPup is a nice solution if you need a solid free plugin for non-techs, while Duplicator is great for developers. And, finally, CodeGuard offers a smart backup mechanism and a diversity of pricing plans to suit any need and budget.
To go an extra mile, you can use both methods – back up your WordPress with your host and, just to make sure the eggs are not in one basket, keep some backups generated via plugins. So did we manage to help you choose the best backup WordPress plugin?