Backup Best Practices: WordPress Backup Guide

Ensure the safety of your WordPress site with backups


1. Importance of Website Backups

Imagine your website as a precious gem, a masterpiece you’ve lovingly crafted. Now, picture that gem shattering into a million pieces. 💔 That’s what can happen if you don’t have a backup. A website backup is like an insurance policy for your online presence. It’s a safety net that ensures you can restore your website to its former glory if disaster strikes.

Why are WordPress backups so crucial? Because WordPress is a popular target for hackers and malicious attacks. Just like a thief can break into your house and steal your valuables, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in your website and wreak havoc. A backup is your shield against these threats, allowing you to recover your site quickly and minimize damage.

How to WordPress backup

© Photographer Dominika Roseclay

Types of WordPress Backups

2. Incremental Backups ⚡

Incremental backups are like adding a new layer of paint to your house. They only store the changes you’ve made since the last full backup. It’s a great way to save space, especially if your site is constantly changing. Think of it as a “what’s new” list for your WordPress site.

Benefits of Incremental Backups:

  • Space-efficient: They take up less storage space than full backups.
  • Faster: They’re quicker to create since they only backup the changes.
  • Efficient: They’re ideal for sites that undergo frequent updates.

How Incremental Backups Work:

  • They rely on a full backup as the foundation.
  • Subsequent backups only store the differences from the previous backup.
  • This creates a chain of backups, each one building on the last.


Let’s say you have a full backup of your site on Monday. On Tuesday, you add a new page. An incremental backup will only store the data for that new page. On Wednesday, you update a post. The incremental backup will only store the changes made to that post. This way, you have a complete history of all changes made to your site.

Backup Frequency and Schedule

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” 🍌 Just as fruit flies multiply rapidly, so can changes to your website. To keep up with the pace, regular backups are crucial. Daily backups are ideal, ensuring that even if you spill coffee on your laptop or a rogue plugin goes haywire, you can quickly restore your site to its former glory.

Setting Up an Automated Backup Schedule

Let’s face it, life gets busy. Who has time to manually back up their website every day? That’s where automated backups come in. Most backup plugins offer scheduling options, so you can set it and forget it. Choose a time when your site traffic is typically low, like the wee hours of the morning, to avoid any performance hiccups.

Backup Locations

4. Cloud Backups

Cloud backups are stored on remote servers, providing an extra layer of security and accessibility. They are a popular choice for businesses that require high levels of data protection and redundancy.

Cloud backups offer several advantages:

  • Off-site storage: Cloud backups are stored in a different location from your website, reducing the risk of data loss due to hardware failures or natural disasters.
  • Easy access: You can access your backups from anywhere with an internet connection, making it convenient for disaster recovery.
  • Scalability: Cloud backups can be easily scaled up or down to meet your storage needs.
  • Cost-effective: Cloud backups are often more cost-effective than local or remote backups, especially for large amounts of data.

However, cloud backups also have some drawbacks:

  • Internet dependency: Cloud backups require a stable internet connection to access and restore data.
  • Security concerns: While cloud providers implement security measures, there is always a risk of data breaches or unauthorized access.
  • Pricing: Cloud backups can be more expensive than local or remote backups, especially for long-term storage.

Backup Plugins: Your WordPress Safety Net 🛡️

When it comes to WordPress backups, plugins are your best friend. 🤝 They make the process effortless, automated, and secure. Think of them as your backup superheroes, swooping in to save the day when disaster strikes.

Here are a few top-notch backup plugins to consider:

  • UpdraftPlus: A popular choice with over 3 million active installs, known for its reliability and flexibility.
  • BackWPup: Another highly rated plugin that offers a wide range of backup options, including incremental and differential backups.
  • VaultPress: A premium plugin from Automattic, the creators of WordPress, providing automatic backups, security scanning, and real-time monitoring.

These plugins take the hassle out of backups, ensuring your website is always protected. Just set it up once, and you can rest easy knowing your data is safe.

Manual Backups

Steps for Creating Manual Backups 🤘

Creating manual backups is a great way to take control over your backup process and ensure that your data is safeguarded. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Access your WordPress dashboard: Log in to your WordPress website and navigate to the dashboard.
  2. Export your database: Click on “Tools” and then “Export.” Select “All Content” and click on the “Export to File” button.
  3. Download your files: Go to “Tools” and then “Files.” Select all the files and folders in the “public_html” folder and click on the “Download” button.
  4. Store your backups securely: Save your database export file and downloaded files in a safe location, such as a USB drive or cloud storage.

Using phpMyAdmin for Database Backups 💻

If you prefer a more technical approach, you can use phpMyAdmin to create database backups:

  1. Access phpMyAdmin: Log in to your hosting account and navigate to phpMyAdmin.
  2. Select your database: Click on the database name for your WordPress website.
  3. Export the database: Click on the “Export” tab and select the “Custom” export method. Choose “SQL” as the format and click on the “Go” button.
  4. Save the backup file: Save the exported SQL file in a secure location.

Automated Backups

7. Setting up Email Notifications

“A backup is like a life insurance policy for your website,” 🛡️ Stay informed about the status of your backups with email notifications. Configure your backup plugin to send you an email when a backup is created or fails. This way, you’ll always know if your backups are running smoothly or if there’s a problem that needs attention.

Testing and Restoring Backups 🧪

8. Importance of Testing Backups 🛡️

Just like a fire drill, testing your backups is crucial to ensure they’re ready for action when you need them most. Regular testing helps you identify any issues or errors that could prevent a successful restore. It’s like having a backup plan for your backup plan!

Steps for Restoring a WordPress Backup 🛠️

If disaster strikes, restoring a WordPress backup is like hitting the reset button. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you back on track:

  1. Disable all plugins: Deactivate any plugins that might interfere with the restore process.
  2. Create a new database: Set up a fresh database with the same name as the one in your backup.
  3. Restore the database: Import the database backup into the new database.
  4. Upload WordPress files: Replace the existing WordPress files with the ones from your backup.
  5. Update wp-config.php: Ensure the database credentials in wp-config.php match the restored database.
  6. Reactivate plugins: Turn your plugins back on one by one, testing each one to make sure they’re working properly.

Testing and restoring your backups is like having a safety net for your website. It gives you peace of mind knowing that your precious data is protected and can be easily recovered in case of an emergency.

Additional Backup Considerations

Version Control for Backups

Version control, like using Git or Subversion, is a powerful tool for managing backups. It allows you to track changes over time and easily revert to previous versions if needed. Imagine your backup as a timeline, with each version representing a snapshot in time. With version control, you can travel back and forth through this timeline, ensuring you always have access to the right version of your site.

Version Control System Features
Git Distributed version control system, allowing for offline work and easy collaboration
Subversion Centralized version control system, suitable for smaller teams and simple projects

By integrating version control with your backup strategy, you gain an extra layer of protection and flexibility. It’s like having a time machine for your website, ensuring you can always recover the perfect version of your site, no matter what.


Backing up your WordPress site is like having a superhero who protects your precious data from the clutches of disaster. Just as a superhero has a secret lair, your backups should be stored in multiple locations for maximum safety. Remember, it’s not just about creating backups; it’s about testing them regularly to ensure they’re ready to save the day when you need them most.

By following these best practices, you’ll build an impenetrable fortress around your WordPress site, ensuring that your content and data remain safe and sound. So, don’t delay; implement a solid backup strategy today and sleep soundly knowing that your website is in the capable hands of your backup superhero.

About David Damstra

Business Leader and Business Developer, Project Manager and Full Stack Developer & Designer Creative Director, Brand Guardian, Minister of Company Culture Co-Author of Professional WordPress. Currently in Third Edition. Seasoned web developer using practical technology to rapidly create standards compliant dynamic websites. Experienced with web development, software development and systems and network management and consulting.