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Often the best things in life aren’t free. Like a week off at Goa. Or a sky-diving experience. Or a McChicken burger. We all know that. But then are times when some really (excuse my language) kick-ass stuff are in fact, absolutely free. Can’t think of one?

Its WordPress! Its free. Not just free, its do-whatever-you-want-with it free. Now that’s something.

Let me introduce you to this wonderful WordPress backup plugin called BackWPUp. Honestly speaking, whenever I think of BackWPUp, I get a “faith in humanity restored” kinda feeling. The sheer number of free features available in this plugin speaks volumes about it. Frankly, I think this is one plugin every WordPress site should have.

Features:

BackWPUp enables you to backup your WordPress database and base directory to cloud storage sites. The base directory contains every single file in your WordPress site since it was created.

Authenticate Dropbox

The option to schedule your backup, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis makes this plugin so versatile. Apart from this, you can compress your backups to tar and zip archives and upload them to your personal FTP server, or keep in the host server or even email them. Once a backup job is completed, BackWPUp will email you an error/status/confirmation log.

Configuring a job is pretty simple, thanks to the plugin’s easy to use instructions. Here are a couple of additional features:

1. Automated backup to cloud storage sites including:

  • Amazon S3
  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft Azure
  • RackSpaceCloud
  • SugarSync

2. Repair, optimize and backup the WordPress database prior to backup.

3. Multisite is also supported, provided you’re the network administrator.

4. Optional folders also included, so you can reduce the size of daily backups.

Installation

Since this plugin is free, you can simple search for it under Plugins > Add New > Search and type “backwpup”. Then install it. This process is faster. Alternatively you can download the plugin, extract it and upload the contents of the archive via FTP to the plugins folder available under wp_includes.

How to add a job

  • To add a job navigate to BackWPUp > Add New Job
  • Enter the job name – try to avoid special characters
  • Under tasks, check the ones you need according to the frequency of the job. If you’re looking for a daily backup, then a you wouldn’t need a database check/optimization.
  • Choose the backup destination – its always safer to use a secure cloud storage service like Dropbox – anything but the local server
  • If you’re using Dropbox, then you would need to authenticate it. Run a full Dropbox re-authentication.
  • Enter a valid email address – individual job logs will be sent here.
  • Under the Files tab, you should again choose which folders to backup according to the nature of the job’s frequency. You don’t add/change themes daily. Therefore there’s no need to include the themes and plugins folder in a daily backup. However, in a weekly or monthly, backup, its a good idea to include everything.

Scheduling a job

Job Starts

Here are a couple of tips when it comes to scheduling a job:

  • First off, if you do not have over 20 people from different time-zones working around the clock, then there’s no need for an hourly backup. They put tremendous pressure on the server, and you don’t want to waste resources.
  • Using WP-CLI is a good idea, but it requites a quite a bit of technical knowledge, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • The best option is to use cron jobs to schedule a backup. For example, the settings displayed in the picture below, runs the backup job every Monday at 3:30 PM or 1530 hours.
  • If you’re maintaining a portfolio site which is subject to minimal change, then you might want to consider the manual option. Simply run the job as you see fit.

Cron

Couple of notes:

  • If you’re on a shared hosting server, then there’s a chance that they’ve disabled cURL. In that case, uploading to cloud storage services won’t work.
  • If cURL isn’t supported, you could try FTP instead.
  • Remember, any backup job consumes a considerable amount of resources -right from indexing files to compressing, then upload and finally emailing the logs. So if you’re on a shared hosting server or a shared VPS, you should schedule your backup jobs judiciously. Any abuse of server resources – intentional or otherwise – might end up in getting your hosting account cancelled. Hosting providers have a very strict policy against this.

Backup complete

Conclusion

With over 750,000+ downloads in the WordPress plugins directory, BackWPUp has started to offer a premium version with additional features. Nonetheless, the free version has all the features that a regular WordPress user might require. You should give this plugin a try.

What are your thoughts on this plugin? Do you employ a free or a paid solution for your backup needs? Let us know in the comments section below!

Download BackWPUp Check out the Pro Version

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Sourav is a WordPress enthusiast, an avid gamer and a sitcom collector. His playlists include heavy metal, electronic, and new-age tracks. When he's not online, he's spending quality time with his friends and family.

9 thoughts on “How To: Automatically Backup Your WordPress Website to the Cloud for Free

  1. I’ve been meaning to add this to my blog, this post has reminded me and I’m going to do it right now. Thanks for the post, very informative. Love your blog!

  2. Good article. Here is another backup and maintenance solution that does it all automatically for you and you don’t have to install the plugin yourself. The WordPress solution WP-MONITOR http://www.wp-monitor.com backs up your site to an Amazon S3 secured server for free and the setup is completely done for you. And optionally, you can pay a low monthly fee to Update your WordPress core files and plugins, monitor your website for Uptime, get security scanning, get Malware cleaning , get email reports with website traffic statistics, and update your website menus and content.

  3. I’ve been using BackWPup for quite a while on about a dozen sites. I’ve never had a problem. It makes things so easy. I back up to Amazon, absolutely painless. I recommend it highly.

  4. I tried this hoping I could backup to Dropbox. It didn’t even ask me for Dropbox information. Maybe this works only in Pro.

    I tried to email the zip. Too big. I then did a backup to a folder but I could not specify the folder. Loved the whole approach but the free version does have limitations. No unexpected. I’m now trying WPB2D for Dropbox.

    My host company, Lunarpages, does regular backups & I have had to do a recover. So this backup is just double insurance for me. Thus a Dropbox solution would be great.

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