Most of us have either experienced catastrophic data loss or know someone who did, this is when we understand the value of regular backups and see how easily all our problems would go away, if only we had one available. Backups should be present anywhere there is data created, including our WordPress installations, strangely enough, this is not the case, many developers and site administrators don’t bother with setting one up. Luckily these days most popular hosts are quite reliable and hardware failure related data loss is relatively rare, however this is not the only reason that could potentially lead to us losing our work, WordPress has become an extremely popular platform on the web and following this increase in popularity is the increase of malicious attacks these two, along with user errors are the leading causes of data loss. Let’s see how we can prevent that.
Some hosts provide automated backups in the hosting package which is a great deal, if your host offers this feature, make sure to learn how to use and configure it. Below we are going to demonstrate how to set up regular automated backups yourself with the use of one simple plugin, BackWPup.
Installing the plugin
In your WordPress dashboard go to Plugins > Add New, search for backwpup
and once the installation is done, click Activate
Great, the plugin is installed!
Once the plugin is activated you will be redirected to its introductory page. From your dashboard’s sidebar click Add new job under BackWPup’s menu.
In the General tab of your new job, start by filling in the Job Name, then check the Job Tasks and make sure Database backup, File backup and Installed plugins list are checked. Move to Backup File Creation and switch the Archive Format to Zip. Under Job Destination select Backup to Folder & Backup to Dropbox. If you don’t have a Dropbox account click here to sign up for one. Finally under Log Files fill in your email address so you can receive the backup procedure’s log, you can check the Errors only box if you just want to receive an email when there’s an error with the backup procedure (recommended if you set very frequent backup, i.e. daily). Finally click Save Changes.
It’s time to set up how often we want our backups to happen. Click on the Schedule tab.
We want our backups to be automatic, so under Start job select with WordPress cron. Move to the Scheduler section to select your backup’s recurrence. The basic scheduler type provides four options monthly/weekly/daily/hourly select one of them based on the frequency of new data being added on your site. For example if you only update your site couple of times a month a daily backup might be an overkill and consume server resources for no good reason. On our example we selected a weekly backup, every Sunday at 3:00. There is also an advanced option in the scheduler which allows to setup backups only on certain days of the week or even on certain months, have a look at it if you are interested in fine tuning your backup schedule. Once done Save changes.
Database backup options
It’s recommended that you don’t change any settings here, defaults work just fine. You might want to alter the database backup’s name and if your site has a very large database and you are pressed for space enable GZip.
Next up is the Files tab. Again here the defaults are a pretty good option, they allow you to create a complete backup, however if you want to exclude a plugin, a theme or a certain folder from your backup, just check the corresponding box next to it and you are done. Save changes and let’s move on.
BackWPup will create an installed plugins list for reference, in this tab you can name it and select if you need to compress it, most times compression is not really necessary.
Earlier in the General tab we selected a folder backup option. In this tab we have the ability to modify the backup folder location (rarely necessary) and the number of backups we want to keep. Select a maximum number under the File deletion section, when it is reached the oldest backup will be deleted and replaced by the latest one.
This tab will allow us to reach our ultimate goal, create a cloud backup.
Click the Get Dropbox App auth code button, you will be presented with this screen
click Allow to proceed to this screen
copy the auth key and paste it in the App access to Dropbox textbox
Under Backup settings you can select the name of the Destination Folder and the number of files to keep before deleting the older ones. Once done click Save changes.
Congratulations! You have successfully set up an automated regular local and cloud backup of your WordPress installation and database.
For further reading, start by checking the plugin’s FAQ section to help you troubleshoot the most common errors and learn about restore options.
Now that your data is safe you can focus more on creating awesome content.