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How to Back up a WordPress Site

Online security is no longer a field for geeks and specialists only. It is a matter that affects all of us, no matter if you don’t own a Facebook account or you are a digital marketer. Wanna Cry ransomware proved that anyone can be affected by a serious cyber-attack. Flights have been delayed, patients haven’t received the proper treatment, factories have been closed temporarily, and so on. However, there are some reasons to be optimistic. People have realized that online security is a strategic problem and have acted consequently. The simplest evidence is in how the term “cyber security” has evolved over the past five years. This Google Trends graphic is suggestive enough.

Cyber security” is an expression heavily used when it’s about the infrastructure (airports, hospitals, factories) security and online (computers, servers, mobile devices) security. The graphic reveals that the search volume for this expression in 2017 is almost four times bigger than in 2012. Would you search for a keyword without being interested in it? In conclusion, all of us became aware that being secure isn’t a default state, it’s something that is achieved with massive efforts.

WordPress is a stable and secure environment, but it’s far from perfect. Developers work hard to make it more secure, but they can’t replace the work of users. WordPress users should constantly try to improve their website security. First and foremost, backing up your WordPress site is mandatory. You will be more comfortable knowing that your work of many months or even years is safe. Luckily, backing up your website is simple and free!
In this article, I will show you how to back up a WordPress site manually or with the help of plugins. As a personal recommendation, I firmly believe that a backup plugin is the best solution. But, no matter how you do it, what really matters is backing up your site!

Manual Backup Alternatives

WordPress stores information in files and databases. The files contain WordPress’s core functionality, themes, plugins, images, updates, and more. The database structures all of these files and makes the website functional. Both files and database are irreplaceable.

In fact, to back up a WordPress site supposes to create a copy of database and files. I propose you two manual backup alternatives: via FTP or via your web control panel. For the sake of simplicity, we will focus mostly on cPanel.

Backing Up via FTP

This backup method is intuitive and simple. You need to use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client, such as FileZilla. Login to the website server, go to the WordPress directory, and simply download all the files. You can keep this backup on your hard drive, but we highly recommend making some copies and storing them in various locations (on your hard drive, on a memory stick, on a CD, on the cloud, etc.).
The next step is to back up the website database and log in to your phpMyAdmin account.

Select your website database and click on Export.

Here, you will have the option of one of two methods—Quick (only minimal options) or Custom (display all options)—and choose the select SQL format.

Hint: Pay attention to the database you export. It’s quite possible that you will have more than one database in phpMyAdmin. Make sure you select the proper database and check all the files (tick the Check All option) to export.

Restore via FTP

To upload the backup, select the copy of your website and upload it to the WordPress directory. It’s up to you whether you overwrite the files from the WordPress directory or delete them before uploading the backup. Importing website database is a breeze – head to phpMyadmin, click on Import and upload the database you previously backed up.

Backing Up via web control panel (cPanel)

Login to your cPanel and go to File Manager > public_html, check Select All, and then click on Compress.

A pop-up will appear and ask you to select the compression type. Depending on the website size, the archive creation should take a few minutes. When it’s ready, download it to your hard drive and make some copies of it and store them in different locations.

Restore via web control panel (cPanel)

In the same File Manager dashboard, select your archive (uploaded on public_html) and click on Extract .

Backup Plugins

Fortunately, the WordPress repository contains many plugins to back up a WordPress site. Some of them have been installed by millions of users while others are less known but useful enough to deserve your attention. People needing extended functionality might take into consideration purchasing premium plugins. Regardless of your budget, the following plugins to back up a WordPress site are feature-rich, secure, and stable. Check out their features and install the most suitable one for your project. A backup plugin is mandatory if you care about your website.

1. Updraft Plus (Freemium)

A plugin that has been installed on more than one million websites and that’s rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on the WordPress repository doesn’t need an introduction. One of the major advantages of Updraft Plus is the ease of use; even a complete newbie can back up a WordPress site with it. Another advantage is the multitude of options. You can not only store the backups on your computer but also save backups on the cloud or online file storage platforms. Updraft Plus lets you schedule file and database backups, and these can have separate schedules. For more options you also can go for the premium version.

Try UpdraftPlus Plugin for free

2. BackWPup (Freemium)

The same as Updraft Plus, BackWPup allows you to save your backups on various third-party platforms such as Dropbox, SugarSync, S3, and Microsoft Azure. The files can be stored in various formats (zip, tar, tar.gz, tar.bz2). A distinctive feature of this plugin is the ability to check, optimize, and repair the website database.
BackWPup is free, but for extended options and first-class support, you need to purchase the premium version.

Try BackupWPup Plugin for free

3. BackUpWordPress (Freemium)

BackUpWordPress is the most suitable plugin to back up a WordPress site if you went for shared hosting. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it plugin that certainly is the perfect solution for complete newbies. You can exclude files from backups and back up both files and database at once or separately.
The single downside of BackUpWordPress is that the backups can only be saved on a hard drive or sent to an email address. To store the backups on various storage platforms, you need to purchase an extension.

Try BackUpWordPress Plugin for free

4. WordPress Backup to Dropbox (Free)

The name of the plugin is enough to give you a complete idea about its purpose. WordPress Backup to Dropbox is simple and effective to use. Install the plugin and link it to your Dropbox account, and the backups will be in good hands. This plugin gives users the option of scheduling the backups and determining the frequency and the files to back up.

Try WordPress Backup to Dropbox Plugin for free

5. Backup Buddy (Premium)

Backup Buddy is probably the most famous premium plugin to back up a WordPress site. Once you set up the plugin, you don’t need to worry about backups or restorations. Backup Buddy customers are happy with this plugin, and the support is stellar. As a bonus, Backup Buddy does malware scans and repairs your website database. It can also be used to move your website, making that process a breeze.


All the above plugins have gained much user appreciation. I believe that these plugins satisfy even the most demanding users. Have you ever used any of them? Are you tempted to manually back up your website? It will be great to share your thoughts with us.


Author: Daniel

Daniel Pintilie is part of our editorial team and he enjoys writing articles about WordPress, development, and Internet Marketing. In his spare time, Daniel plays video games and reads non-fictional books.

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