Backing up is not fun. It’s not sexy, not hip, not interesting. But when your whole website vanishes in the blink of an eye, never to be recovered, you’ll wish you had kept a copy of it somewhere.
As much as we rely on technology, unfortunately sometimes that technology lets us down. Sure, it sounds cute and safe, having your information in a “cloud” on your web host. But that cloud is just a computer, somewhere in the world, storing the files and folders that make up your site and serving it up to anyone who comes knocking. Like any computer, the “cloud” can also break down.
So what to do to keep your valuable content safe?
Well, it sounds pretty straightforward.
You need to back up your WordPress website regularly. But what does backing up really mean?
Data should exist in at least two places if it’s to be considered safe. One might be your web host, and another your computer or an external hard drive. Sure, web hosting companies run regular backups of all your files, but if the worst happens then it might take a long time to recover them, so it’s always good to have a local copy that you can access easily.
The nature of WordPress means that backing it up can be a complex process. But luckily, there is an easy way around the complexity due to the wealth of WordPress resources available.
A WordPress website is actually broken into two halves, and it is necessary to back up both. The first backup section is files, which include all the content you’ve written and your theme files, images etc. The second part to back up is the database, which is the structure and extra bits of your site.
1. Backing up your WordPress.org files
The easiest way to backup the files of your WordPress website is through your web host. Many hosts (including Bluehost, a web host that is WordPress friendly) have a backup feature within the Control Panel. This backup section creates a zip file of all your content and saves it to your computer.
If your host doesn’t offer this easy backup feature, you can also backup your files using FTP*. Make a new folder on your computer, then using an FTP client (my favourite for Mac is Cyberduck), drag and drop files from your site onto your computer. They will then copy onto your computer from the host. Be patient – making the copy can take some time!
*FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a way of transferring files from one host to another via the internet.
2. Backing up your WordPress.org database
There are also a few ways to backup the database, but one of the best is using the plugin called WordPress Database Backup. This will download a zip file to your computer, or you can have it emailed to you. This plugin is great because you can set it to schedule backups automatically.
Another method is again via the Control Panel of your web host. They may have a section that allows WordPress database backup.
Remember that it’s also a good idea to back up the zip files from your computer, for instance by creating another copy on an external hard drive!
3. Using a premium, all-in-one solution
A third option is to use a premium plugin like Backup Buddy to manage backups of your website. This will allow you to schedule regular backups of both your database and your files, and store them in a remote location. This is by far the easiest option, however it’s not free! I would recommend using a plugin like this if you’re not very technical, and you don’t want to have to remember to back up your website on a regular basis.
For more information about how to backup a WordPress website, see the WordPress codex.
This post originally appeared on Grassroots Internet Strategy.