Some hosting providers include backup services for your website, but not all of them do. And even if some offer these services, relying exclusively on them is not the best option for your WordPress site. Here’s several reasons why:

  • hosting providers don’t always backup your site as often as you might need them to – think hourly, every 3, 6 or 12 hours for data sensitive websites, such as eCommerce ones. Or if they do, they charge a premium for it.
  • backups made by your hosting can sometimes fail and they won’t always notify you about that
  • in some cases, it can be frustrating to restore your site from a backup created by your hosting provider, depending on the UX or steps you have to take
  • your hosting provider might get hacked and your backups will be compromised

How do I get started with backups?

Luckily for you, there are several ways to do backups by yourself, so that you don’t completely rely on your hosting company.

Your WordPress site consists of a database and site files. The database includes all of your site’s content. Site files consist of files such as themes, plugins, media and potentially more.

When you consider creating a backup of your WordPress site, you have to backup both the database and the files of the site, regardless of the method you will end up choosing.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about backing up your WordPress site. Here’s exactly what you’ll be learning today:


  • why you should backup your WordPress site
  • how often you should backup your website
  • how to backup your website with a dedicated WordPress plugin or online backup service
  • how to backup your WordPress site manually


Why should you backup your WordPress site?

Ever ran into the “Error establishing a database connection issue in WordPress” and wished you had a backup? You’re not alone!

Backing up your WordPress website regularly is useful in many ways. Read on to find why you should always keep at least 2 backups.

The dreaded WordPress “error establishing a database connection issue”

If the screenshot above hasn’t fully convinced you, here are even more common reasons to back-up up your WordPress site:

  • database problems – there are many things that can go wrong with your WordPress website that can affect your database: missing or corrupted tables, etc. Database issues can lead to having a website that’s not accessible to users.
  • website actions – you may need to reset your website, restore it or make changes to it, migrate it or even reinstall WordPress altogether. All these actions can cause your site to get corrupted or to malfunction, either because of a human error or a bug. Even something as insignificant as a change or update to a theme or plugin can sometimes mess things up.
  • hacking – is another common reason to consider when it comes to backing up your WordPress website. If a hacker gains control over your site, oftentimes that results in loss of data. Rebuilding your website from scratch can be very grueling. Having access to a backup copy of it can really save the day.

By having a backup at your disposal, the recovery of your site will be smooth and fast, and you don’t have to risk losing anything important. Here are some great plugins to help you restore your WordPress site.


How often should you backup your WordPress site?

Regardless of the type of website you have, backups should be done regularly. However, regularly doesn’t always mean the same interval of time for everyone. That very much depends on the type of website you have and how often you usually update it:

  • if you have a blog where you publish new content frequently and users interact daily, leave comments and so on, a daily backup would be the safest thing to do.
  • same goes for ecommerce websites that sell a lot and have daily transactions. Busy websites should even receive hourly backups.
  • if your website is more static and receives content updates only a few times a month, a weekly backup should suffice, as there is no need to backup the same data if nothing has changed (incremental backups are also a good option to consider for this exact reason)
  • same goes for your website files – if you make a lot of updates to your plugins, theme, media, etc., a daily backup would be the best solution.

The good news is that if you opt for a backup plugin or online backup service, they usually come with automated backups so you can schedule backups as often as you want and not worry about this aspect anymore. Most of them offer even hourly backups for your both your site files and database.


Where to store backups?

The safest thing to do is have more than a single backup – at least 2 would be best – saved in different locations. For example, you could keep one stored on remote servers such as Google Drive, Amazon S3, Dropbox and a local one, on your hard disk.

This way, in case one of the sources gets corrupted or you accidentally loose or delete the data on it, you can still have access to the other two backups.


What is the best way to backup your WordPress site?

There are 3 approaches to backing up your WordPress site:

  • you can backup your website manually
  • you can backup your site automatically with the help of a dedicated WordPress plugin.
  • or subscription-based service, that typically does more than just backups – like malware scanning.

Manual backups are a good option to consider if you want to have full control over the backup process. You can create a manual backup whenever you want and it won’t cost you anything.

On the other hand, it can be tiring to constantly repeat the process, especially if you need to do it on a daily basis. It is also a time consuming activity and requires some technical expertise on your part.

However, if you opt for a WordPress backup plugin, you can schedule automatic backups whenever you want. You just set a schedule for the backups and the software will take care of it.

Moreover, most of these plugins also include free versions so you can thoroughly test them out before having to actually pay to unlock their full potential.


How to backup your WordPress site with a plugin

Backup plugins are the easiest and quickest way to backup your WordPress website. Here are the main advantages of using a plugin to backup your site:

  • you get regular backups automatically
  • a plugin allows you to schedule backups as often as you want (hourly, every 2 hours, daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
  • plugins are really easy to use, you can backup your site with only a few mouse clicks
  • you can keep as many backup archives as you want, unlike with hosting providers, who usually keep a limited number of backups
  • most plugins have free versions you can use – on the other hand, most hosting providers charge you extra for backup services;
  • many plugins offer remote storage for free – with hosting providers, sometimes you have to upgrade your hosting plan if you exceed your allotted disk space, because backups can take up a lot of storage space

For instance, we use Kinsta for our web hosting needs. And while their performance is good, their pricing for backup services is not that attractive. More specifically, if you want site backups every 6 hours, they charge you 50 USD/month/site. Hourly backups are even pricier: 100 USD/month/site:

kinsta backup services pricing

External storage is also charged extra by Kinsta:

external storage pricing kinsta

Luckily though, the internet is full of backup plugins and most of them do more than just simply backup your site: they offer real-time backups, they scan your site for malware, help you migrate your website, offer one-click site restoration, incremental backups and a lot more.

Here are 3 popular backup plugins at a glance:

PLUGIN NAMEUpdraftPlusBackup GuardTotal Upkeep
Price$42/year
$57/year
$87/year
$117/year
$399/year
$25/year
$39/year
$99/year
$30/year
Free version
Scheduled backups– hourly (for database backup);
– every 2 hours (for files backup)
hourlydaily, at chosen hour
Manual backups
Files backup
Database backup
Custom backup
Site migration
Remote storageDropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, UpdraftVault, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, DreamObjects, Openstack Swift, e-mail, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage, Backblaze B2, SFTP, SCP, WebDAVDropbox, G Drive, Amazon S3, OneDrive, SFTP/FTPGoogle Drive, Amazon S3, DreamObjects
Customer support10/109/109/10
Ease of use10/109/109/10
Security features
Active installations so far3+ millions70,000+60,000+
Visit siteUpdraftPlusBackup GuardTotal Upkeep

So, without further ado, let’s dive into these backup plugins and show you what you can actually do with them and how to use them.


UpdraftPlus

This plugin has over 3 million active installs so far and it is one of the most user-friendly options out there. It also comes with a free version that gives you access to all the essential features you might need.

In order to install it, go to your Dashboard Plugins Add New, just like in this image:

add new plugin in WordPress

Type in the name of the plugin in the search bar, install it and then activate it.

If you want to backup your database, you have to go to Dashboard SettingsUpdraftPlus Backups. You’ll see all the available options there. The plugin lets you schedule backups or you can opt for manual backup.

Here’s where to find the settings:

updraftplus plugin settings for database backup

Similarly, you can also schedule backups for your site files, from the same place, but choose “Files backup schedule” instead of “Database backup schedule”, just like in the image below:

files backup schedule in Updraft Plus plugin

Moreover, you can send your backup to Google Drive, Dropbox, FTP, email, Microsoft OneDrive and other destinations. However, you can only choose multiple remote storage destinations with the premium version of the plugin.


How to backup your WordPress site to Google Drive using UpdraftPlus

Most plugins offer cloud storage for your backups. Next, we’ll show you how to backup your website to Google Drive using the UpdraftPlus plugin. Luckily though, this process is pretty much similar with other plugins as well.

In order to store your backup remotely on Google Drive, you have to go to your WordPress Dashboard → Settings → UpdraftPlus Backups.

Schedule the files/database backup according to your needs, then, go to the Settings menu of the plugin and from the “Choose your remote storage” list, click on Google Drive, just like in this image:

store UpdraftPlus backups to Google Drive

Once you do that, you’ll see several settings below: you can choose what files you want to include in the backup and you can also exclude certain files from the backup by deleting them from the list. There is also an option to provide an email address to receive a basic report of your backup and more.

Tweak the settings to your liking and hit the Save changes button on the bottom of the page, once you are done. After that, come back to the same Settings and then follow their link to authenticate to your Google Drive account, just like in the image below:

authenticate to google drive account from updraftplus plugin settings

You’ll find your backup in the UpdraftPlus folder in your Google Drive. You can only change the name of this folder if you upgrade to the Premium version of the plugin.


Backup Guard

Another great WordPress backup plugin you can use to backup your WordPress site is Backup Guard. It also offers a free version and is capable of backing up your database or the entire site. It is a complex tool but also straightforward. Once you install it and activate it, the plugin will appear on your Dashboard.

In order to backup your entire site, you have to click on Backups and, after that, on the Backup button.

A window will pop-up, giving you the option to choose between a full or a custom backup. Check the Full backup option if you want to backup the entire site and then hit the Backup button.

full backup with backupguard plugin

If you only want to backup your files, check the Custom backup option instead and afterwards, the Backup files box. You can also check or uncheck the exact files you want. Next, click on the Backup button.

backup files with backupguard plugin

In order to backup the database, check the Custom backup option again.

A Backup database box will appear and you have to check that box as well. From there, you choose exactly what you want to back up. There are 3 choices available: full (all the tables found in the database), only WordPress (just the tables related to your current WordPress installation) and Custom (you can manually check or uncheck each table).

Here’s a screenshot to get a better idea:

backup database with the backupguard plugin

If you opt for the Custom option, the tables will be displayed just like in the image below:

custom database backup window in backup guard

Finally, you hit the Backup button and you are done.


Total Upkeep

Total Upkeep is another great plugin that offers both a free and a premium version. You can easily install and activate the plugin from the Dashboard.

Once installed, you’ll find it in the left sidebar. What you need to do is click on the settings to schedule your backups and set the plugin according to your needs.

Total Upkeep backup plugin settings

After you configure Total Upkeep, hit on the Save changes button and that’s it.

Total Upkeep allows you to create backups for both your files and your database. You can choose between full backup and custom backup for both. If you opt for the latter, you can include/exclude certain files, according to your needs. Here are the backup options offered by Total Upkeep:

total upkeep plugin backup options

We gave you just a few examples of reliable backup plugins you can try out. However, there are a ton of them available. Here are more backup plugins to consider for your WordPress website.


Use subscription-based services to backup your WordPress site

If you prefer paying for an online backup service and enjoying the automation features that come with such a service, then this is a great option to consider.

The way these services usually work is by you purchasing a subscription and installing their plugin on your site. They include benefits such as automatic real-time backups of your entire site, security features for your site and more.

Here are 3 of the most popular online backup services at a glance:

ServiceBlogVaultBackupBuddyVaultPress/Jetpack
Price$7.4/month
$12.4/month
$20.75/month
$80/year
$127/year
$199/year
$7.95/month
$19.95/month
$79.95/month
Database backup
Files backups
Scheduled backups– daily
– real-time
(depending on the plan you opt for)
hourly– daily
– real-time
(depending on the plan you opt for)
Site migration
Remote storage
Multisite
Security features– automatic malware scan and removal
– website firewall
– login protection
– encrypted backups
– WordPress malware scan
– malware site scans
– anti-spam protection
– brute force attack protection
– secure authentication
Easy site restoration
Customer support10/1010/1010/10
Ease of use10/109/1010/10
Visit siteBlogVaultBackupBuddyVaultPress/Jetpack

Okay, let’s get started with these three subscription-based services and show you how to use them.


BlogVault

BlogVault backup service pricing

BlogVault is one of the best backup services out there. It is a very feature-rich tool that does more than just backups of your website. It can also check the performance and uptime status of your website/s and is very rich in features. BlogVault is trusted by more than 400,000 websites.

Their plans start at $7.4/mo However, there is a free 7-day trial you can use to get familiar with the plugin and its capabilities.

In order to test the plugin, you have to type in your website URL and login with admin credentials, just like in the image below:

login window BlogVault plugin for website backup

Then, you have to sync your website:

sync website with BlogVault

This process might take a few minutes depending on the number of files on your website, but once it’s done, you’ll see your backup in your dashboard under Backup.

Here’s an example:

If you decide to subscribe to a plan, you get access to all their features:

  • full, daily automatic backups and real-time backups, if you opt for their most premium plan
  • security features such as malware scan and removal, a firewall and more
  • one-click website recovery
  • site migration
  • cloud backup storage
  • performance and uptime monitoring and others

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy backup plugin pricing

This is another great plugin you can purchase. BackupBuddy offers annual subscriptions starting at $80. The plugin comes loaded with a lot of useful features:

  • complete website backups (which, of course, include the database)
  • 1-click website restoration
  • remote storage for your backup files
  • database scan and repair
  • site migration
  • WordPress malware scan and more

After you decide on a plan, you pay for it and you will receive a confirmation email. The email will contain a link to where you can download the plugin zip file.

Further on, you have to install the plugin on your website:

add new plugin wordpress

Next, click on Upload plugin, to upload the .zip file you downloaded:

upload plugin wordpress

After you install and activate the plugin, go to your Dashboard → Plugins Installed Plugins and license it, so that you can benefit from the automatic updates:

Once you’ve done all these, you can start using the plugin. If you go to your Dashboard, you’ll find BackupBuddy on the left sidebar.

When you first hit the Backups option, BackupBuddy will take you through a quick setup wizard. You have to type in your email, password and set where you want to save your backups and how often you schedule them. After you’re done with all of them, click on the red Save settings button on the bottom.

Here’s how the setup wizard window looks like:

backupbuddy plugin setup wizard

Then you check the backup settings to schedule and set the plugin according to your needs.

You can go to BackupBuddy Schedules Add Schedule to see more options for the exact time, date and frequency of the backups, type of backup you want to create, remote destination of the backup and more.

Here’s an example:

schedule options backupbuddy plugin

VaultPress/Jetpack

jetpack backup service pricing

The VaultPress backup service is now powered by Jetpack and comes packed with several useful features.

You can either subscribe to one of their bundle plans (with the most affordable one starting at $19.95/mo) or purchase individual products, depending on your needs.

VaultPress offers everything you need to keep your website up, backed up and running smoothly:

  • real-time backups
  • daily off-site backups
  • automated daily scans
  • spam protection
  • site search (to help your visitors find instantly everything they need on your site) and more

Some other good subscription-based solutions to check out are CodeGuard and myRepono.


How to manually backup your WordPress site

If you want to have full control on all available settings and options, you might want to go with a manual backup of your site, instead of using a dedicated plugin.

Next, we’ll show you how to manually backup your WordPress database and files.


How to manually backup your database using cPanel

Plugins are not the only method to backup your database. You can also do it from cPanel (more specifically, via phpMyAdmin). Depending on your web hosting provider, you can access phpMyAdmin through cPanel, Plesk, Direct Admin, vDeck, to give you just few examples.

If you don’t know where you can find phpMyAdmin, contact your hosting provider to guide you through.

Further on, we are going to give you the steps for backing up your database through cPanel.

Log in to your cPanel and look for phpMyAdmin. You should find it under DATABASES, just like in the image below:

locating phpMyAdmin in cPanel

After that, click on phpMyAdmin and then on the Databases tab, just like in this image. Further on, open the database for your WordPress site. Here’s an example:

Once you open the database, you’ll see a list with all the “tables” in it, because that’s how the data in your database is organized. When you first set up your site, WordPress creates the tables automatically.

Here’s what they look like:

database tables in phpMyAdmin

Further on, check all the tables and click on Export, just like in the image above. A window will open prompting you to opt for quick or custom export and to choose the export format (the format should be SQL).

Here’s an image to get a better idea:

export tables in phpmyadmin cpanel

If you go with the quick export, just make sure the format is SQL and hit the Go button. The backup .sql file will automatically be downloaded to your computer.

However, if you choose the custom export, some new advanced settings will open for you to tweak: output, format-specific options, object and data creation options.

Here’s a screenshot of the available options:

Once you edit the settings to your liking, hit the Go button on the bottom of the page and you’re done.


Backup your WordPress files manually via cPanel

Your database is not the only one you need to backup. You also have to backup your website files. Log into your cPanel again and go to File Manager:

Next, you click on File Manager and find the public_html folder of your site, because that’s where your WordPress files are. Right-click on it and choose the Compress option from the drop menu, just like in the image below:

compress the public_html folder in cPanel

Choose the compression type you want (a Zip archive is usually recommended), change the name of the compressed archive if you want (or you can leave it as it is) and then click on the Compress file(s) button:

compress window in cPanel

Once your archive is created, right-click on it and choose the Download option from the drop-down. By doing so, you will download the .zip archive from your server to your computer:

download compressed archive backup in cPanel

You can then go back in cPanel → File Manager and delete the archive from your server, if you don’t want it there, too.


Backup your WordPress files manually through an FTP client

Another method you can use to backup your WordPress files is to use an FTP client such as FileZilla, which is what we are going to use in the example below.

So, the first step is to open FileZilla and connect to your server. Once you are connected, locate the public_html folder of your site, just like you did in cPanel. On the left side of FileZilla, choose the location on your computer where you want to save the downloaded folder.

Next, right-click on the public_html folder and click on the Download option from the drop-menu. This will download it to your device. You will find the folder in the location you’ve chosen.

Here’s how it should look like:

download public_html folder from FileZilla

Another way to do it is to choose from the left the location where you want to save the backup copy of your public_html folder and then, from the right side, select the public_html folder and simply drag-and-drop it to the left side.


Summary

To wrap things up, the importance of regularly backing up your WordPress website is unquestionable. There are various things that can go wrong with your site: accidents or errors on your part, a cyber attack, a buggy update that messes it up and more. A backup helps you restore your site in no time, with minimum effort and zero losses.

There are two ways to go when backing up your WordPress site: manually or automatically.

Manual backups

👍 PROS

  • you have complete control over the backup process
  • can be done with freely available tools, without having to pay a dime

👎 CONS

  • they require technical know-how to be used
  • they can be time-consuming, especially the first time

👉 If you opt for manual backups, we recommend you use cPanel or FTP to backup your WordPress site.

Automatic backups

When you choose to backup your site automatically, you have the choice of using plugins or subscription-based services.

Backup plugins

👍 PROS

  • most of them have free versions
  • you get scheduled backups even at hourly intervals
  • remote storage included

👎 CONS

  • some free plugins include only basic features, you have to upgrade to the Premium version for more

👉 Recommended plugins for backup: UpdraftPlus, Backup Guard, Total Upkeep.

Subscription-based services

👍 PROS

  • they come equipped with advanced backup features: incremental backups, real-time backups and more
  • they also include additional features such as malware scan, spam protection, etc.
  • customer-support is top-notch

👎 CONS

  • they are not free

👉 Recommended subscription-based services: BlogVault, BackupBuddy, VaultPress/Jetpack.