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August 25, 2020

Backup Your WordPress Website (Quick, Easy, Automated)

Basically, making a backup of your site is basically copying all the files of your website at a specific point of time. If something ever happens to your website such as:

  1. Getting hacked
  2. Updating WordPress or Plugins that turn out to be incompatible
  3. You could miss a payment with your hosting company
  4. Things just happen

There are two ways you can backup your site. One way is very easy with a trusted plugin called UpdraftPlus.

The other way is a little bit more difficult and manual with a File Transfer Protocol software. A File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software helps you move files from one location to another. Usually they help you move from a server or computer to another server or computer. We will go over the manual method in a different post. For now, we are going to use the very easy Plugin Method.

Plugin Method

First, we are going to go over how to backup your site using the plugin method. The plugin we are going to use is UpdraftPlus. They have a free version that you can find in the WordPress repository.

Go to plugins in your WordPress dashboard, search for UpdraftPlus and install it.

Once you click on Install, UpdraftPlus will begin installing on your site. Once it is done installing, the button will change from Installing… to Activate.

Activate the plugin and you will be redirected to a page that asks you to start using the plugin.

Go ahead and click on the button that says Press here to start! Pressing this button will lead you to the UpdraftPlus settings page where you can make your first backup and also schedule future backups.

When you are in the settings screen, you will see some tabs along with a list of the backups you have already made. If this is the first time you are using the plugin, you won’t have any backups listed.

The first thing you want to do is make a backup of your site, so go ahead and click on “Backup Now” to make your first backup.

One more screen will popup before your backup starts. Don’t worry about the checkbox options now and keep the default options. Click on Backup Now to really start your backup this time.

You will know that your backup has started once this bar shows up:

Once you see the bar, we can go ahead and configure the settings of UpdraftPlus so we can schedule automatic backups. That way, we won’t have to keep coming back into WordPress and make a backup manually. It’s just one of those things that we won’t need on our checklist anymore.

To get to the settings, click on the Settings tab. There are 3 things we are going to do in this settings tab. We are going to:

  1. Choose a backup schedule.
  2. Choose a backup location.
  3. Enable backup notifications.

Let’s start with choosing a backup schedule.

UpdraftPlus will let you choose between manual backups. Backups every 2/4/8/12 hours, daily backups, fortnightly (every 2 weeks) backups, and monthly backups. It also lets you choose the number of backups you want to retain.

You can choose these options for both the WordPress files and the WordPress database. Most people say that you should choose a backup schedule that fits to how often you change your website. However, I think that there are so many dynamic moving parts in a WordPress website that you should at least backup your website once per day.

So, my settings look like this:

My settings give me one automated backup every day and I get to keep at least a month’s worth of backups at any moment.

The next part of the settings is to choose where you want to save your backups too. 

UpdraftPlus gives you lots of common storage options including Dropbox, Google Drive and even sending it to your email inbox.

One thing that you want to be aware of is that your backups may take up a lot of storage space, especially if you have settings like mine where you have 31 backups stored at any given moment. In my case, I’ll be storing about ____ at any given moment.

Make sure you do this same math and that you have enough space for at least double the amount of storage.

That way, if your file and database sizes of your site grows, you will still have more than enough space.

Whichever storage location you choose, you will have to authenticate your account with UpdraftPlus. For example, if you choose Google Drive like I do (I have unlimited Google Drive storage with my Gsuite account) then you will choose Google Drive. 

At the end of the page when you save your settings, UpdraftPlus will ask you to sign in to your Google account to connect and save files to your Google Drive.

In the next section, you can choose which folder in your storage option you want to save to (if applicable). Updraft saves in a default folder if you have the free version. If you have the pro version of UpdraftPlus, you can set a custom folder name.

In the last part of the settings, you can choose to send an email notification to yourself or anyone else once a backup is finished.

Whether you choose to receive email notifications or not,  you can save your changes at the bottom of the page. Once you do, depending on which storage option you chose, you will be prompted to authenticate your storage option (ex. Sign in with Google to save your backups to Google Drive).

Go ahead and click on the underlined link to authorize your storage option account. In this case, I used Google Drive so it will ask me to authenticate my Google Drive account. Go ahead and sign in, allow what it asks you to allow and finish the authentication. It should be very straightforward.

Once you finish authentication, you will see the below screen with a button that says “Complete setup.”

Once you click on Complete Setup, you will be taken back to the UpdraftPlus settings page where you can see if your backup has been completed or not.

Depending on the size of your site, your backup may be done already. My backup wasn’t done yet because this specific site actually has over 3,000 car listings in it.

After you have completed all of these steps, you want to make sure that your website actually does get backed up at your selected interval and location.

I always remind myself to check on the progress of the automations and software I setup. One of my favorite ways to do so is to use Trello.

If you don’t have a Trello account, you can go ahead and sign up here.

This is how I have my Trello tasks setup:

You can add a card named “backup website” and set the due date to 3 days later. That will help remind you to check if there are 3 backups in your backup location.

That’s all you have to do to automatically backup your website at your selected interval and backup location.

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Wilson Muh


Wilson Muh

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