The Best Way to Backup and Restore a WordPress Site

WordPress Site Backup and Restore

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When things go wrong, having a backup and restore plan can save you time and money. WordPress sites are the biggest targets for malware attacks – with over 90,000 attacks happening every minute.  Besides hacks, WordPress websites are also not immune from website crashes, data losses, or malfunctioning. Even a single crash or error can seriously derail your marketplace for days or even weeks.  

There’s a simple way to deal with this though – backups. Think of it as a safety net for your website. A comprehensive and reliable backup solution is your best protection against anything that could go wrong with your website. 

Why Backups Are Important For Your Website

While backups are often looked at as a good-to-have, they are increasingly becoming a must-have. Why? Well, here are some real-life scenarios when you can use backups to normalize your website operations if:

  • Your website is hacked or compromised by a malware attack.
  • A major WP update or a plugin/theme upgrade goes wrong and causes incompatibility issues.
  • You make some design changes on your website and want to revert to the original version.
  • You accidentally delete any important file or folder.
  • You accidentally lose a day’s orders on your marketplace.
  • You want to safely migrate your website to a different web host.

Now think about this – what exactly would happen if your backups went missing or even worse – got hacked? Let’s not forget that backups are also stored in independent servers or storage locations that also could crash or be compromised. 

This is the reason why you should create multiple copies of backup files for storage. Additionally, these backup files should be stored on multiple locations, including your dedicated server and independent cloud storage like Google Drive and Dropbox. This ensures that you always have access to your backup files and can download them to your computer at any time.

Now that you know all about backups and their importance in keeping your website running,  let’s look at how you can perform a website backup and restoration. 

Backups From Your Web Hosting Company 

We’ll preface this and say that we are happily using both Kinsta and Siteground for hosting and some of the links in this article are affiliate links. We would not recommend these companies without plenty of testing of both their services and support. We’ve been extremely happy with the support from both Kinsta and Siteground.

One of the easiest routes to take is to avail backup and restore services from your web hosting company. Most WP hosts like SiteGround and Kinsta include automated and easy-to-use backup services. They’re easy to manage and easy to restore.

We’ll use Kinsta as an example as we host this website with them. You get daily backups included in your plan. You can also opt to select either hourly backups or 6-hour backups, each of which comes at an additional cost.  Apart from this, you can also access and download your backups from your Kinsta dashboard account. Follow these simple steps mentioned below:

Downloadable backups

From the Kinsta dashboard, restore your stored backups to the live website or test them on a staging site before merging the backups on the live site.

Restore WordPress from Backup in MyKinsta

Although having backups from your hosting company is a great first step, there are some other things to consider when you take this approach: 

  • Can you rely entirely on your web host provider to take timely backups?
  • Do these backup files include both website files and database tables?
  • Are they charging a premium for providing backup services, or is it included in their standard hosting packages?
  • Can you easily access these backups and restore them?
  • What happens if your hosting company goes away?

This is why its always a good idea to have multiple levels of backups not only from your hosting company, but to other sources and by other methods.

Manual Backups 

Unlike backups from your web hosting company, you can also perform backups yourself.  This is a fairly technical process that requires quite a bit of time and effort. You’ll need to possess a working knowledge of tools like FTP tools and the phpMyAdmin tool and some WordPress debugging skills as well.

Primarily, manual WordPress backups involve taking backups of your website files and database with the following steps:

  1. Backup and restore of website files using cPanel or an FTP tool like FileZilla
  2. Backup and restore of database tables using the phpMyAdmin tool

Before starting manual backups, ensure that you have installed or have access to these tools.

Now let’s look at these steps in more detail:

Part 1: Backup and restore your website files using cPanel

You can use the cPanel tool if your current web host provides it. Unlike any FTP tool, you don’t need to install cPanel and it can be accessed from your web hosting account. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Log in to your web hosting account and navigate to the cPanel.
  2. From the cPanel, navigate to File Manager, where you can view several WP files and folders, including the “public_html” folder. 
  1. Open the “public_html > <website name folder>” to view all the website files and folders on the right panel.
  2. Right-click the folder and compress its contents into a zip archive file. This helps decrease the file size and hence the download time. 
  1. After compression, download your zip file to your local computer.

To restore your backup files using cPanel, here are the steps you need to execute:

  • Log in to your web host account and navigate to the cPanel. 
  • Open the File Manager and delete all your existing website files and folders.
  • Next, extract and upload your backup files from your computer to the “public_html > <website name folder>” using cPanel. 

Part 2: Backup and restore your database tables using phpMyAdmin

You can use the phpMyAdmin tool to backup and restore your WP database. You can either access this through your web host’s cPanel (Log in to your web hosting account and navigate to Databases > phpMyAdmin),  or download it directly.

  1. On phpMyAdmin,  view all the current WP databases.
  1. Select the database to be backed up and then export all its tables in SQL format. 

But before you restore your database tables using phpMyAdmin, create a database first, and then import your backup. You can do this as shown below: 

  1. Log in to your web host account and then create a new database using MySQL Databases.
  2. Next, using phpMyAdmin, import your backup file into the new database.
Importing your database

Automated Backups Using Plugins

Last but not the least, and certainly our favourite – automated plugins. We highly recommend this method because it’s easier, more convenient and reliable than a manual backup. It is also your second line of defence if you have issues with your hosting backups. Thanks to the popularity of WordPress, you are sure to have a wide range of plugins to choose from. 

However, with numerous choices comes much confusion. Hence, we’ve zeroed on the top 3 popular backup plugins in the market: 

Available in both free and paid versions, UpdraftPlus is a popular backup plugin for websites. Apart from complete website backups, it offers website cloning and migration functionalities. It is also suitable for multisite networks and facilitates the safe storage of backup files on independent cloud platforms. This plugin is more suited for smaller websites that have low backup requirements.

BlogVault is a complete backup and restore backup plugin that has a nearly 100% success rate in website restores. It’s easy to configure and use besides being competitively priced. Some of its standout features are the use of independent and dedicated servers for backups and incremental backups. Both features make sure your server is not loaded and hence there is no impact on your website speed or its resources. 

Easy to install and configure, BackupBuddy is another popular backup plugin that offers complete automated backups. Additional features include support for a variety of cloud storage platforms and a user-friendly interface. It can also work on a shared web hosting platform.

Automated Backup Process

While all three of the above are comprehensive and competitive offerings, we’ve focused on BlogVault for the rest of this section – mainly because we have used it internally on multiple occasions and have the first-hand experience with the BlogVault.

If you plan on taking your website’s backup using BlogVault, follow the below steps to get started: 

  1. First, sign up with BlogVault. On registration, you receive an official link on your email address.
  2. Next, click the link to open the tool’s dashboard page. Use your user credentials to log into your dashboard account.
  3. Next, add the URL of your website.
  1. Once you have specified the website, install the BlogVault plugin through the manual or automatic install. 

We recommend using Automatic install as it is easier and faster to complete. On installation, the tool automatically takes a backup of your website.

BlogVault syncing site

And that’s that – backup complete! 

It takes an automatic backup every 24 hours. You can also perform a backup any time you want – any number of times. The dashboard also has some useful WordPress management features like updating of plugins, themes, and core, user management, staging, migration, and more. 

Now that you’ve completed the backup process, let’s understand how you can restore a backup to your site in two easy steps: 

  1. Sign in to your dashboard and select the website that you want to restore. 
  2. From the backups section, click Restore as shown below.

That’s all you need to do. With the Auto Restore feature, BlogVault restores the latest backup version to the website.

We have also used BlogVault to migrate sites from one host to another which is another bonus feature. That makes migrations easier. Although you can do this via lots of different plugins, BlogVault has worked the best for us when it comes to moving sites around.

Verdict

Now that you know how a backup can be your saviour in times of an emergency, do not delay creating one for your website. I have personally been saved several times from my backups over the years and cannot recommend getting this into your setup soon enough.

If your web host provider includes backup services and you’re someone who doesn’t make too many regular changes to your site, a backup from your web host would work for you. However, depending on your hosting provider, the backup process could be complicated and time-consuming. That’s why we recommend

We suggest manually backing up your website only if you possess some prerequisite technical know-how besides both time and effort to invest in the process each time. Besides being technically intensive, it’s also not a smart choice if your website requires frequent or daily backups. It’s too much work, and there are plenty of automated solutions.

The best way to avoid the challenges offered by both the above options is to take the help of an automated backup plugin.  Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced professional, a dedicated plugin is worth the investment for the sheer peace of mind and free time it provides. Based on your website needs, you could evaluate either of the leading backup plugins we discussed today and pick one that works for you. All the best!

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know which backup you used and your experience with it in the comments below! 

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