Today, I’m going to cover some of the best WordPress backup plugins, explain why you need to use one, and how it can be an absolute lifesaver.
A backup plugin does precisely that – it backs up your data so that you are never left with your pants down after your site gets hacked or you do something dumb like delete things you shouldn’t.
I’m guilty as charged of the latter scenario. Not so long ago, thanks to my lax attitude toward backups, a particular chain of events coupled with stupidity on my part left me with a wrecked site that took a month of Sundays to fix. However, that marvelous thing called hindsight taught me that if I had a recent backup to roll back to, my site could have been back to its former glory with minimal downtime.
Why Should You Use a WordPress Backup Plugin?
It might sound dead obvious, but backing up your site (and even your computer) should be as routine as brushing your teeth.
You may wonder why you should be regimental about doing them, as you’ve never needed to do them before. But imagine the fallout you’d suffer in any of the following scenarios:
- Hackers attack your website.
- WordPress core, plugin, or theme updates cause it to crash.
- You shift it to a new hosting provider, but it then stops functioning altogether.
- It becomes infected with a virus or has a bug, causing it to stop working.
- You make significant changes to it, but when they are complete, you don’t like them, or they mess adversely with how the site functions.
That list is not exhaustive, and Murphy’s Law dictates any undesirable scenario will occur at the most inopportune time. The result? At best, you’ll be annoyed and somewhat inconvenienced as you will need to fix your site. At worst, your site could be out of action for an extended period – an absolute disaster if you run a busy eCommerce store.
Theoretically, you could get into the swing of doing regular manual backups. Unfortunately, however, outside of alcohol, nicotine, and other addictive substances, creating a new habit is nigh on impossible for most of us. Sure, many of us start with good intentions. But like New Year’s resolutions, the good intent soon fades. What’s more, manual WordPress backups and restores are a pain in the rear to do.
So, what to do?
Get a WordPress backup plugin, that’s what. Many of these will do regularly scheduled backups automatically at times configured by you. That means you will always be able to roll back to previous functioning versions of your site in the event the unthinkable happens.
Furthermore, some plugins also allow you to do unscheduled backups, either manually or automatically. This will enable you to protect your data in circumstances like:
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- When installing new themes or plugins.
- Prior to implementing manual updates.
- Before migrating your site to a new host server.
- Prior to making any significant changes to your site.
Choosing the WordPress Backup Plugin
There are tons of WordPress backup plugins out there. That means choosing the right one for you requires some thought. Factors to consider include:
- Price – Do you have some budget available, or will you need a free one? Remember that free ones are usually basic and may not store the backups optimally (see ‘Storage’ below).
- Backup and Restoring Options – There are several backup and restore methods, and each plugin may use one or a combination of these. Read on for more details.
- Storage – The backup data needs encrypting and storing in a safe location, preferably multiple offsite ones.
- Support – It’s highly probable that you will need some assistance from the developer at some point, either in setting up the plugin or when using it. Therefore, choose a well-supported plugin where people are praising the support provided, not moaning about it.
There are several methods of doing backups of your WordPress site:
- Full site backups – The backup includes a full copy of absolutely everything. Oddly, some plugins will only backup the files and not the database, which won’t be of much use to you in the event of a catastrophic failure that obliterates everything.
- Incremental backups – Full backups take considerable time, processing power, and storage space. Incremental backups – which focus only on things that have changed since the previous backup – minimize this.
- Real-time backups – These occur the moment something on your site changes. This is especially important for sites like eCommerce stores, where you want to protect orders and other transactions from disappearing into the ether.
It is good to keep several ‘rolling’ backups, where the latest backup deletes the oldest stored one. The reason for that is you may have an issue with your site that was dormant in the previous backup, so you will want to go back to the backup immediately before that one. I understand it all may sound rather complicated, but once you start, the logic behind it falls into place quickly.
Restoring your WordPress site should (in theory) be kind of a reverse process of backing up.
Depending on your plugin, you may be able to do a partial (possibly to individual file level) or a full restore. Furthermore, if you do rolling backups, you will be able to ‘wind back’ to one of several previous dates, thereby jumping over any recent backups, which may be the source of any problems you may now be encountering.
One-click restore features can make the file restoration process far less complicated, so look out for those.
I always find the term ‘cloud storage’ totally misleading. Contrary to popular belief, your data isn’t floating around in the sky; instead, it is spread across multiple servers that are firmly on the ground.
There are several advantages to using cloud storage, including:
- It does not weigh down your host’s server resources with constant backups, which can impact your site speed.
- The loss of one server means that only the portion of data on that one is lost, with that on the others in the server ‘pool’ remaining intact. Think along the lines of not putting all your eggs in one basket.
- Using external cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) ensures you retain complete control of the backup. That is rarely the case when stored in servers owned by your hosting provider or plugin developer.
One Word of Caution
Chances are, your hosting provider has already informed you that they do automatic backups and are probably trying to upsell you a corresponding package. Some will try to tell you it’s great to have everything under one roof. That is utter nonsense when it comes to backups.
Imagine this scenario: your hosting provider has a major hack attack or a fire that wipes out everything. Not only will you lose your website, but you could potentially lose the backups, too, leaving you with little to no chance of recovering it.
Even if your hosting provider stores backups offsite (many don’t), they are still linked to the host and, therefore, not fully independent. Unfortunately, that means the backup data could still be vulnerable.
I believe it is best to keep your backups as independent from the host as possible. Only then can you be sure that any virus, hacker, or other disaster bestowed on the host will not be able to reach your precious backups.
My Suggested WordPress Backup Plugins
I will provide you with a list of eight of the best WordPress backup plugins available in 2023.
In my selection, I tried to include something for everyone. However, if you don’t find one that tickles your fancy, there are plenty of other good ones out there to choose from. The key is to know what you are expecting from the plugin. Reading reviews to see what other people are saying about it is also wise.
Please note that the plugins are not listed in any specific order of preference.
Of all the WordPress backup plugins out there, if you are looking for a free one with great features that are upgradable later, UpdraftPlus would be an excellent choice.
The free version of UpdraftPlus does both backups and restores (unlike many other free plugins that backup only!) Furthermore, it can do scheduled automatic backups, plus it is possible to backup data to several cloud-based locations such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
If you want to do incremental backups or need to back up non-WordPress files and data to multiple remote destinations, then you will need to upgrade to a premium plan. These start from $42 per year for the Personal plan, which covers up to two sites, and adds 1 GB of cloud storage plus extra cloud storage destinations, plus it can do site migrations also.
- Easy to use
- The free version includes good functionality
- Wide choose of backup locations, even with the free version
- Automatic scheduled backups
- The paid plans are competitively priced and add some useful extras
- Some people have reported that the plugin has caused issues with auto-update plugins, although I cannot verify this
- As already mentioned, the free version of UpdraftPlus is upgradable from $42 per year (unlimited sites). Of course, that includes loads more useful features such as the ability to restore backups from other plugins, download individual files from WordPress backups, and more.
BlogVault is a premium-only option that packs great functionality into one easy-to-use WordPress backup plugin.
Once configured, BlogVault automatically does site backups and stores them in offsite cloud storage locations (either BlogVault’s own server or Amazon S3.) The backups can be done daily and stored for 90 days, or it is possible to upgrade to real-time backups retained for up to a year. Best of all, restores just need one click.
Other great features included with BlogVault include the ability to create staging sites. These allow you to test things like plugins, themes, and updates before installing them. Furthermore, the plugin can migrate entire sites to new hosts or servers.
- Automatic backups to cloud storage
- One-click staging
- Easy site migration
- Includes WooCommerce backups
- The more expensive plans include security features also
- A little on the pricey side if you need the real-time backups
- BlogVault costs $89 per year for daily backups or $249 per year for real-time backups. Those prices are for a single domain, but other plans are available for multiple domains.
Jetpack Backup is a refreshingly simple WordPress backup plugin that is great for beginners.
Once you have installed it, the plugin pretty much runs itself, doing offsite backups of your site automatically. Additionally, all plans include real-time incremental backups, perfect for websites such as eCommerce stress where the data is constantly changing.
- Easy to use
- Real-time incremental backups
- Includes 10GB to 1TB of storage, depending on the plan you choose
- One-click restore from the previous 30 days or one year of backups, depending on your plan
- Includes Jetpack (security) and Jetpack CRM
- More expensive plans include additional security features
- Plans only cover one domain, so covering several sites can get expensive
- Jetpack Backup plans cost $59 per year with 10GB of storage and the ability to restore data from the previous 30 days, or $299 per year for 1TB of storage and the ability to restore data from the last year.
WP Time Capsule
WP Time Capsule is a premium-only WordPress backup plugin that can integrate with your own cloud storage, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3. The good thing about storing data in those locations is that it remains in your control, unlike data in clouds included with plugin plans or stored on the host server.
By default, backups are real-time incremental, meaning changes get saved on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, the plugin backs up your site before updates are implemented, allowing you to recover things quickly should something go awry. Incremental restores are also possible, giving a great deal of flexibility.
WP Time Capsule can create one-click staging environments, allowing you to test things like updates or significant changes before setting them live.
- One-click staging environment for testing updates, changes, new plugins, etc.
- You retain ownership and, therefore, complete control of the cloud storage
- Incremental restores are possible
- No free version, although a 30-day free trial is available
- WP Time Capsule costs from $49 per year for up to two domains, rising to $199 for unlimited sites. Lifetime plans are also available, costing between $149 and $699, respectively.
BackupBuddy is a premium WordPress backup plugin that creates full or partial backups of your WordPress site. You are at liberty to set your own backup schedule, which can be hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or any other interval you want.
Backups can be stored either in Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., or you can use the storage included with the plugin’s subscription. Full or partial restores are possible.
Other key features of BackupBuddy are the ability to clone and migrate sites, plus you can create a staging environment for testing purposes.
- Configurable backup schedule
- Bundles cloning, staging, and migration features
- Includes 1GB or 5GB of cloud storage, depending on the plan purchased
- Creates downloadable Zip files of backups
- Full or partial backups and restores
- Does not do incremental backups
- The restore process could be simpler
- Support is not great
- The cheapest BackupBuddy plan costs $80 per year for one site. That includes 1GB of storage. Conversely, the most expensive plan costs $199 per year for unlimited sites and 5GB of storage.
WPVivid Backup & Migration Pro
WPVivid Backup & Migration Pro is a WordPress backup plugin that includes everything you need to backup, restore, and even migrate your website.
As well as the usual cloud solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive, WPVivid will also send backups to lesser-known services such as Wasabi, pCloud, and Backblaze.
Incremental backups are possible, which is useful if your site data is constantly changing (such as eCommerce stores). Furthermore, a robust scheduling engine allows you to configure when other types of automatic backup should occur.
- Configurable backup schedule
- Can save multiple copies of backups to several different clouds for extra peace of mind
- Includes staging and migration features
- Creates downloadable Zip files of backups
- Full, partial, or incremental backups
- A skinny free version is also available to get you started
- No built-in website security that many of the other plugins include
- The cheapest plan (Blogger) has limited features (no staging, limited domains, etc.)
- WPVivid Backup & Migration Pro costs from $49 to $149 per month, depending on how many domains you need to cover. Lifetime plans cost from $99 to $299.
Duplicator is a freemium WordPress backup plugin that gives very usable functionality in the free version, while the Pro version unlocks more helpful stuff.
With the free version, you can do full or partial manual backups, plus it is possible to clone and migrate sites between domains or hosts with no downtime whatsoever. Furthermore, it allows you to create a staging environment to pre-test things like plugins and themes before setting them live.
The Pro version lets you do much more, including automatic scheduled backups to various cloud services. Pro also includes several other features to make life easier when backing up, restoring, or moving sites.
- Even the free version Includes staging and migration features
- Sends backups to independent cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)
- Creates downloadable Zip files of backups
- Simple to use with a handy help wizard
- Full or partial backups
- The Pro version includes many useful extras such as scheduled backups and more
- Pro version necessary for larger databases
- The lifetime Pro subscription is somewhat pricey
- Duplicator’s core plugin is free and available in the WordPress plugin directory.
- The Pro version starts at $69 per year for up to three sites, rising to $149 if you need unlimited licenses. Prices are lower if you sign up for a continuous subscription rather than paying each year. A lifetime plan is also available, costing $549 for unlimited sites.
BackWPup is a freemium plugin offering robust functionality both in its free and Pro versions.
Of course, the free version is limited, having a restricted number of backup options. That said, it does let you send backups to places like FTP or Dropbox, or you can download them as Zip files to store wherever you choose.
However, things get more interesting when you upgrade to the Pro version. That gives you many more storage options, plus it is also possible for backups to be encrypted and sent to multiple storage locations.
- The free version is very usable and beginner-friendly, with a good range of external storage options
- You can include or exclude specific file folders from backups
- The plugin has an app for doing emergency restores
- Pro versions are a little pricey compared to most competitors, and no lifetime plans are available
- Does not do incremental backups
- The core version of BackWPup is available free in the WordPress plugin directory.
- Pro upgrades cost from $69 per year for a single domain, rising to $349 for up to 100 sites.
What’s Your Favorite WordPress Backup Plugin?
If you don’t have any fixed regime for backing up your site, I hope this article has convinced you why you need to change that soon. WordPress backup plugins are a super-easy way of doing it, and by having one, you are less likely to have significant headaches should the unthinkable ever happen.
I’m interested to hear what you are doing regarding site backups. Are you using a plugin, and if so, which is your favorite? What are the pros and cons of that plugin, in your opinion? And if you don’t currently do backups routinely, has this article inspired you to do so in the future?