How to backup your WordPress blog

How to backup your WordPress blog

So you want to backup your WordPress blog. I suppose you heard someone say that you should. Hopefully you’re not someone who just suffered the crushing blow of losing your life’s work, your Magnum Opus. Whatever your scenario (and I really hope you’re doing this before things go south), I’m going to show you the easiest, most foolproof method I know to regularly backup your WordPress blog.

Onsite vs. Offsite

First it’s important to understand some backup terminology. An onsite backup means that the data for the backup and the data for the production website exist in the same physical location. This might be like making a backup of your computer onto an external hard drive attached to your computer. This would protect you from a hard drive crash, but if your house burns down then both go up in flames.

Offsite means that the data for your backup and the data for your production website are in different physical locations. If one place burns up, the other will still have all the data intact.

There’s a benefit to each type of backup. An onsite backup, such as an external hard drive, can provide a much faster recovery than downloading the data from another site. Offsite backups are more resilient to acts of God (and kids).

Backup in the cloud (Amazon S3)

When it comes to your website, it turns out that the hard drive at your house qualifies as an off site backup. Even better than your hard drive is Amazon S3. There are two reasons why choosing a cloud based service is more appealing than your hard drive.

  1. You can automate access to it from your website
  2. They manage redundant, fault tolerant data storage for you

What to backup

I think many bloggers (those that create backups at all) use the WordPress export feature and feel confident that they have everything they need to recover their website in case of a crash.

It turns out that several things are missing. First is that even the most disciplined person can find it difficult to login regularly and take frequent backups. Since a blog is an evolving opus, constantly changing, it’s important to take frequent backups. Another problem has to do with the ‘rest’ of the information on your website.

What about all the pictures, audios and videos that you upload, along with theme and plugin files? This data needs to be included with your backups in order to restore your website. Without it, you would be able to restore little more than the text content from your site.

So, if you insist on taking manual backups then make sure you use FTP and grab the wp-content folder of your WordPress website in addition to the XML file that you export.

There’s a better way

If you don’t want to worry about all these details and risk messing them up then you’re in luck. I found a great plugin which I’ve been using on all my sites for about a half a year now. It’s called Automatic WordPress Backups. To get it up and running all I had to do was provide it with my Amazon S3 account information and it took care of the rest. It manages creating backups on a regular schedule and maintaining historical backups too.

The cost for S3 storage works out to be pennies a month, and for the peace of mind that it brings, that’s CHEAP!

How to restore

In the event that you need to restore your data, you can most likely find someone on In fact, if you’re restoring after a hosting company crash, you could probably even give them the backup file from your S3 account and let them work through the details. It turns out to be pretty easy. Here’s the process I would follow:

  1. Ensure that you have the domain configured and pointed to a directory on your host
  2. Upload WordPress (you can probably use cPanel if you want to)
  3. Delete the wp-content folder and upload the folder from your backup
  4. Create a database and import the database file from your backup
  5. Update the wp-config.php file with the connection information to your new database

Hopefully you never need to go through these steps. but if you do, you’ll be glad that you took the time to setup Automatic Wordperss Backups. Post a comment if you have any questions or need additional help.

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4 Responses to “How to backup your WordPress blog”

  1. Simon August 7, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    I use a plugin called WordPress Database Backup, it sends a dump of the mySQL database to my gmail account every day.

    • Daniel August 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm #


      The biggest risk with a plugin like that is the loss of uploads, themes, plugin versions and customizations, etc. If you don’t upload pictures or customize at all, then that would be sufficient to restore your site, otherwise, you’ll want a solution that backs up everything, like the one I mention in this post.

  2. Jason Heidecker August 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Snapshot Backup is a good plugin. Compresses the entire directory and sends the database along with it. Supports FTP and routine backups so I have them sent hourly to my remote/offsite FTP server.

    • Daniel August 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm #


      Great suggestion. I would add that it’s important to make sure that the FTP account where you have the backup posted is hosted on a different server than your main website. You mentioned remote/offsite, but it’s important to reiterate.

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