Backing up is something every site owner at every level should be doing. Imagine the scenario after 10 years of running your website and all the hard work, content, graphics and community is lost due to a hard drive failure at your host. How do you recover?
But my host will have backups right? No, while most hosting companies do take backups of your site they are almost always limited in some way, for example Hostgator will only back up the first 10GB of data in your account.
The other downside of backups from your hosting company, often you can not restore 1 site its an all or nothing backup – these are called snapshot backups. A complete copy of everything in your hosting account and can only be restored as complete.
The bottom line, you should not rely on you hosting companies backups. Always have your own copies.
In this guide we are going to cover the basic backup solution of backing up to a directory on your server. Now this by its self is not a complete backup and you should always download a copy of the backup to your computer.
BackWPup has a free and premium version for the purpose of this tutorial the free version will suffice. This can be installed like any other plugin from the WordPress.org repository.
Create your First Backup Job
Think of a backup job like a preset that will run automatically on a defined schedule keeping everything safe.
Click on Add New Job to create your first automated back up job. Under the general tab provide the backup job with a name so you can identify it later.
Under Job Tasks on the general tab ensure Database Backup, File Backup, WordPress XML export and Installed Plugin list are checked. This will ensure all the important stuff is including in your backup package.
Leave the Archive Name as it is, you can change this if you want to but we don’t recommend it unless you are running multiple backup jobs.
Under Job Destination we need to select Backup to Folder and a little further down under Log Files we want to email them to ourselves. Now here you have a choice, you can only get an email if something goes wrong and your backup fails or you can get a full log emailed to you every time the backup runs. This is entirely up to you.
Click Save Changes and this will take you to the Schedule tab. First thing first select with WordPress cron under the Start Job. Now the schedule you choose here will depend on how often you add new content on your site.
For a lot of personal sites you can get away with once a week, companies or sites with multiple authors we recommend daily and for sites with a large community and a lot of user generated content i.e. comments and forums we’d say you should run a backup every hour. You will know how ofter your backup needs to run based on the amount of time every day you spend managing your site, the basic rule is the more time you spend the more frequently you should be backing up.
Under Schedule Type select basic then how often you want to run the backup. For monthly and weekly backups select the day to run on and for all jobs select what time of the day to run. We recommend running the backup at times when your site will be less busy so 3am in the morning is a good choice.
Again click Save Changes at the bottom and then pop over to the DB Backup tab. Here the only thing you need to do is ensure all the tables are selected. If not click all and then save changes. If they are all selected jump over to the To Folder tab.
Leave the Folder to store backups in alone and just change the number for File Deletion to something that both fits in with your hosting disk space and terms and conditions for storing files on the server as well as your piece of mind. We recommend you store at least 30 days worth of backups if your hosting company will allow this.
Run Your Job
Now that is it. Your job will run on schedule and automatically backup your site. However you should run the job manually now to make sure everything is working. Jump over to the Jobs and click Run Now under your Job Name, this may take 10 – 20 minutes to run depending on the size of your site.
Download Your Backups
While these backups will protect you from human error on your site they will not protect you from hard drive failure on your server as they are stored on the same hard drive as the site. You should always download your backups to your local computer for complete piece of mind.
To download your backup packages head over to Backups. Here you will see everything backup currently held on your server. Simply click Download on the packages you wish to save.