Full file backups (how to create and restore)

Having an up to date WordPress backup protects you against unexpected server failures and hacks.

This can be achieved using:

  • An automated backup system
  • Hosting Backup
  • Manual Backup

Automated backup system:

WordPress backup plugins add the element of ease to creating dependable backups for your WordPress site. All you have to do is install your favorite WordPress backup plugin, configure a few settings and you’re good.

You can check this link for a list of backup plugins.

VaultPress Premium Backups by Automattic:

VaultPress was created by Automattic to make backing up and securing your website easy. VaultPress take automatic daily backups of your website that are stored securely offsite. And using them to restore your website is as easy as logging into your account and clicking a button.

Other features VaultPress offers include site duplication & migration (gotta love those full backups), malware and virus scanning, automated file repair and even spam defense. Starting at just $39 per year as a part of JetPack Personal, this is a very affordable security add-on worth investing in.

BackupBuddy Premium WordPress Plugin:

The second premium WordPress backup plugin on our list today is BackupBuddy by iThemes. You can use the plugin to create full database and files backup, and/or move your site to another server easily.

You can backup your site to your hard disk and a variety of external storage services including Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, email, FTP, Dropbox, and BackupBuddy Stash among others.

Schedule WordPress backups with BackupBuddy while you’re on the go and enjoy a backup service like no other. Pricing starts at $80 per year for a single site license, though iThemes also offers a lifetime Gold package at a one-time fee of $297 which offer unlimited use of the plugin making it a great fit for businesses.

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration Free WordPress Plugin:

One of the highest-ranked WordPress backup plugin, UpdraftPlus adds fun and ease to backing up your WordPress site. With a number of sweet features including backups to Amazon S3, Google Drive, FTP, Dropbox, email and other storage options, quick restore, scheduling, site duplicator, capability to split large sites into multiple archives, and so much more, you can’t go wrong with UpdraftPlus (and the developers also offer a pro version that packs quite a punch if you’re looking for more features).

Hosting Backup:

Each Hosting provider has a backup system which is creating chronological file and database backups.

Your first option is to simply choose a hosting company that completes full, daily backups of your WordPress site. For example, WP Engine Managed WordPress hosting offers automatic daily backups up all of you core WordPress files, themes and plugins, and your database (including all of your media). Plus you can initiate your own backups at any point (like before a major WordPress update, or when changing themes).

If you want to take your hosting provider managed backups to the next level, log in from time to time and download your own zip file copy to keep on your own hard drive. You never can be too safe.

Manual Backup:

Your WordPress directory contains sub-folders e.g. wp-content, wp-includes etc and files e.g. wp-config.php, theme and plugin files etc required by your WordPress site. The wp-content folder contains all your themes, plugins, cache and uploads among other things. You cannot afford to lose this data. The wp-admin carries all the files required by your WordPress admin area, so you can’t afford to lose this as well. The wp-includes folder contains WordPress core files. This is the folder where all the major WordPress code lives. You definitely don’t want to lose this code.

Step 1: Backup Your WordPress Files Manually

To create a copy of your WordPress files, you just need to download your entire WordPress directory. How? You can login to your server via cPanel or using a SFTP program.

Backup via cPanel:

This is so easy you can do it in the time it takes to brew a mug of coffee. Here’s the procedure:

  • Login to your web host and navigate to cPanel. For most web hosts, the cPanel is usually the first page you encounter when you login
  • Navigate to the File Manager, which should lead you to your public_html or Home directory
  • From here, just locate your WordPress directory. This is the folder you want to backup
  • Unfortunately, you can’t download the WordPress folder in File Manager without first compressing it. Worry not though, compressing a folder needn’t be challenging
  • Click on your WordPress directory, and select Compress from the menu bar. Alternatively, right-click on the folder and choose Compress from the drop-down options menu that appears
  • Choose the compression type e.g. ZIP, Tar, GZIP etc from the dialog box that opens. Better go with a ZIP archive
  • Then just hit the Compress File(s) button and wait for the process to run its course. Your server will save your compressed WordPress folder
  • Click on the archive you just created and choose Download from the menu. Alternatively, right-click on the archive and choose Download.
  • Choose a secure location on your hard disk and save your backup
  • And that’s it!

If your web host uses a different control panel e.g. vDeck, Plesk, etc, you just need to locate your File Manager, and just follow the process i.e. Locate File Manager > Locate your WordPress directory > Compress > Download. 

Backup via FTP or SFTP:

We recommend using a popular file manager such as FileZilla or Transmit because they’re lightweight and easy to use. First, you’ll need to install the application on your computer and retrieve your SFTP or FTP login credentials from your hosting account.

Next, log into the file manager of your choice and enter the details for your website including a nickname, your website URL, your unique SFTP/FTP username and password, and change the port number to 2222.

Once you’ve logged in, you should see all of your WordPress files. Simply select all of your files, right click and select the option to “Download” Once downloaded, make sure the files are zipped up and give the file a memorable name such as today’s date.