Developing a backup strategy is one of the first things you should do when creating a new site. Having a website backup is your insurance against the many types of human and technical errors that could bring down your site. If you don’t know anything about backing up your WordPress website, don’t worry, we have you covered. In this post, we are going to cover the major backup methods you can use, what to backup, how often you should backup, and where you should store the backups.
Simply put, a good set of backups can save your website when absolutely everything else has gone wrong. If a malicious attacker decides they want to wipe all your site files, or if your web server has a catastrophic hard drive failure, all the damage can be easily undone by restoring from your backups. The idea is simple. In order to make sure our data is safe, you make a copy of it. If something happens to the original copy you can always use your backup copy.
Top Reasons to Backup Your Website
Before we talk about creating a successful backup plan for your wordpress website, we should talk about why you should create a backup.
- Hacker Recovery: If your website gets hacked, you can restore your website to a previous clean version of the website.
- Roll Back Broken Updates: Unfortunately, updates can occasionally create conflicts or even break your website. Having a recent backup allows you to roll back the update and get your site back online without losing much content.
- Accidental Deletion: We are human, and as humans, we can make mistakes. .
- Data Corruption: Your server timing out during a WordPress update can cause data corruption, which will break your site. If you have a backup, it is an easy fix.
The True Cost of Lost Data
Oh *&*((^%, your e-commerce plugin had a fatal error when writing to the database. Now all that anyone can see on your website is the Error Establishing a Database Connection warning. And because disaster only strikes at the worst possible time, you are in the middle of a huge sale or it is Black Friday.
- Record of Sales: Every purchase on your website is recorded in your website database. If your database is corrupted, you have lost your sales history and customer information.
- Customer Trust: When your customers don’t receive their purchase or lose membership access, you will lose their trust. Acquiring customers is hard enough as you know, and you should do everything you can to keep them.
iThemes has built a handy calculator to help you determine the replacement cost of your content.
Creating a Backup Strategy in 6 Easy Steps
A good strategy includes your backup method, the backup content, the backup frequency, the backup schedule, storage location, and checking the backups for malware.
Creating a backup strategy for your WordPress Website will give you peace of mind knowing that you are prepared if disaster strikes.
Step 1. Choose a Backup Method
There are a few common methods of creating a WordPress backup, host created, manually created, and plugin created. In this next section, we are going to cover the pros and cons of each method to help you choose the one that best meets your needs.
A: Host Backups
Many hosts such as Namecheap will include a backup feature with your hosting plan. The backups are generally automated, and the hosting companies will usually handle restoring the site for you. Having your hosting company take care of the backups is excellent for people who are intimidated by anything technical.
However, backups made through your hosting company are frequently unreliable and difficult to access. Not to mention you will have to wait on hosting support to restore the site, which could mean hours of downtime. We do really like the support you receive from Namecheap but can assist you also. Another limitation of hosting company backups is that they can’t be used to migrate your site to a new host. If you are having problems with your host, you need to have the ability to move hosts.
- Can be included in with your hosting plan
- Can be unreliable and difficult to access
- Reliance on hosting support can lead to increased downtime
- Backups can’t be used for migration
- Often limited to a single daily or weekly backup
B: Manual Backups
Manual backup’s most significant advantage is that they are free. However, they require a highly technical WordPress user. You can manually backup your site’s files using an FTP client like FileZilla and backup your database using a tool like phpMyAdmin. For more detailed instructions, check out the WordPress.org support article on WordPress backups. Keep in mind, using manual backups will require you to restore your site manually.
- Control over the backup process
- More technical knowledge required to Restore and Migrate
- More time consuming than other backup methods
- Forgetting to create a backup
C: WordPress Backup Plugins
Using a plugin to create a backup for your WordPress Website will be the method that is the best of most people. Unlike host backups, backups created by a plugin can be used to restore and migrate your website. Plugins will typically provide more options to fine-tune when your site is backed up, what is backed up, and where that backup is stored. Another advantage is that you will not have to wait on your host’s support to restore your site, which can lead to less downtime.
There are several WordPress backup plugins to choose from, BackupBuddy and UpdraftPlus being two of the more popular choices.
- More granular control of backups
- Backups can be used to restore and migrate
- Easy to use and configure
- Typically requires a subscription
Step 2. Decide What to Backup
To know what to backup, you need to understand how a WordPress site is structured and where everything is stored.
Overview of The Anatomy of a WordPress Website
The WordPress install directory–AKA the site’s root directory–contains all of the website’s files.
A. Inside the WordPress Root Directory
- The wp-admin and wp-includes directories contain the files needed to make WordPress go. To log into your site, you must navigate to yoursite.com/wp-login.php. When you enter the login URL into the browser, you are requesting to see the wp-login.php file which is stored inside your site’s wp-admin folder. The .htaccess files–which is typically hidden by default–will contain various server rules. The wp-config.php file stores site-specific information, including the credentials needed to access the database.
I like to think of the wp-content directory as the site’s personality. The directory stores everything that makes the site unique to you.
B. Inside the wp-content Directory
- The plugins directory stores all of the plugins installed on the site.
- The themes directory stores all of the themes installed on the site.
- The uploads directory stores the media library and various other files uploaded to the site.
If the wp-content directory is the site’s personality, the database is the site’s brain.
C. Inside the WordPress Database
- The WordPress database stores the posts, pages, comments, options, user data, purchase history, and a whole lot more.
Now that you know where everything is stored, you can make an educated decision of what, and how often to backup.
Step 3. Choose the Backup Frequency
When deciding how regularly to backup your site there are three questions you should ask yourself.
- How often does the content change on your site?
- How often do users interact with the site?
- How much tolerance do you have for lost data?
If you publish a new post once a week, a weekly backup will be enough to prevent data loss. However, if you have an e-commerce site, an hourly database backup will be better to avoid losing purchase data.
A good rule of thumb is that you should be backing you your site often enough to keep up with changes to your website.
Microsoft recommends you use the 3-2-1 backup strategy on World Backup Day. The rule says that you should create at least three copies of your business website in at least two locations, with one location being an offline storage, such as your local hard drive or external hard drive
Step 4. Create a Backup Schedule
Now that you know what backup method you are going to use, what you need to backup, and how often, it is time to create your schedule.
Using a plugin like BackupBuddy, you can create and automate your backup schedule.
The example above is a perfect database backup schedule for an e-commerce site; every hour, a backup of the database will be created. You can make things even easier using something like Stash Live to automatically backup any changes made on the site. Stash Live ensure you will always have an up to date copy of your site stored safely on an offsite location.
Step 5. Choose an Offsite Location to Store Backup
Backups need to be stored securely offsite, in a different location than the server running your site. An essential component of a backup strategy is offsite storage of your backup files. Storing backups on the same server as your site can leave them inaccessible in the case of several failures. If your server gets hacked, a backup stored on the server has a high chance of being compromised.
Redundancy is an important part of any backup plan, there are several affordable storage options. Google Drive and Dropbox are two of the most popular cloud storage services. Groovepages, our favorite non-wordpress builder uses Google Coud Storage.
Step 6. Scan Backups for Malware
A backup plan is only as good as your backup. Scanning your backups for malware can help you catch infected backups before using one to restore or migrate a site. If you are trying to recover from a hack using a backup infected with malware will not help. Using an infected backup will only extend the time it takes to clean your site.
Bonus: Practice Restoring Your Backup
If you are needing a backup to restore your site, the chances are trying to recover from a disaster. Being confident in your ability to restore the site will make it easier to recover your site under duress. Having a backup will only help if you know how to use it.
Having a backup is your insurance against disaster. When creating your backup strategy remember to consider these 6 steps.
- Step 1. Choose a Backup Method
- Step 2. Decide What to Backup
- Step 3. Choose the Backup Frequency
- Step 4. Create a Backup Schedule
- Step 5. Choose an Offsite Location to Store Backup
- Step 6. Scan Backups for Malware
One of the things we stress here at Spiderwebdesign.company is the need to keep all the software on your website up to date and fully patched (even if you are behind a website application firewall with virtual patching, like CloudProxy). Backups stored on the web server are a massive potential security risk because they often contain old un-patched software with vulnerabilities, and due to their publicly-accessible location, anyone can exploit them!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are website backup strategies to follow?
- #1 Determine what website data has to be backed up.
- #2 Determine how often website data has to be backed up.
- #3 Identify and implement a suitable backup and recovery solution.
- #4 Test and Monitor your backup system.
What is the best backup strategy?
Experts at Microsoft recommend the 3-2-1 rule for backup: three copies of your data, two local (on different devices) and one off-site. For most people, this means the original data on your computer, a backup on an external hard drive, and another on a cloud backup service like Google Cloud.
What is the best external device to backup my computer?
Best external backup drive
- WD My Passport 4TB. $101.00. on Amazon. …
- Seagate Backup Plus Portable. $121.99. on Amazon. …
- SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD. $149.99. on Amazon (Prime Eligible)
- Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch (500GB) $119.99 on Amazon
How do I backup my entire WordPress site?
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