How to Backup Your WordPress site (Manually or Using Plugins)?

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Backing up your website isn’t something to ignore or delay. Indeed, you should take it as an opportunity to safeguard your business.

Looking at your WordPress site can save you a lot of headaches in emergencies. For instance, if a security breach, malware attack, or human error occurs, you’ll be able to roll back the saved version and will be able to use it usually.

Having your website backed up regularly gives you peace of mind as your website can be restored entirely in just a few minutes, which means your business is protected.

The biggest fear of a website owner is having a site hacked or crashed! Are you also facing the same fear and insecurity about your website?

Website backup can save you hours of troubleshooting. Thus, we would highly (highly) recommend you backup your site regularly.

If you aren’t doing it, HURRY UP! It’s time to do it NOW.

In this post, we’ll precisely explain the process of backing up your website. Whether you’re a noob or tech-savvy, you will be able to do it quickly.

But before proceeding with that, we want to emphasize the need to backup your site.

Why is it recommended to backup your WordPress site?

For many, backing up a WordPress site would be a waste of time and effort as they think they live in a perfect world where nothing can ever go wrong.

These people need to understand that WordPress doesn’t exist in a perfect world. In fact, it exists in the real world, where many things can go wrong with your WordPress site.

According to Identity Theft Resource Center’s Report, 1,862 data breaches occurred in 2021 only which is 68% higher than in 2020.

Now let’s quickly check what wrong can happen to your WordPress site-

  • “Human Error”- one might delete all the files and data accidentally.
  • A malicious performer might gain access to your website and inject malware.
  • A theme or plugin might crash your website.
  • Your web host might have a failure that can cause data loss.
  • A freshly installed update might suddenly cause an error.

Losing website data can be devastating. Avoid this havoc by learning the process of website backup.

How to backup a WordPress website?

Generally, there are four methods for backing up your WordPress site. In this post, we are explaining two simple methods-

  1. Using a backup plugin
  2. By manually

Read: How to Install WordPress Manually using cPanel

These processes will help you backup your files and database. So, let’s start with the first option-

Method 1: How to backup a WordPress website using a plugin?

Well, there are a variety of WordPress backup plugins that you can use to backup your site. The majority of WordPress backup plugins work in the same manner. If you are familiar with any of them, you can easily play around with other tools of the same type.

There are a few best backup plugins to backup your WordPress site but here we will let you know how to backup your WordPress site using the UpdraftPlus plugin.

UpdraftPlus is no exception. It is much simpler, and you can create complete site backups using this hassle-free in a matter of minutes.

Get ready to take the first backup of your website using Updraft-

WordPress Plugin improves the ease of creating reliable backups for your WordPress site. All you need to enjoy this benefit is to install the Plugin, configure a few settings, activate it and you’re good to go.

Step 1: To get started, install and activate the UpdraftPlus plugin. Then in your dashboard, go to settings > UpdraftPlus Backups. Now click on the “Backup Now” button.

backup of your website using Updraft

Step 2: As you click on this button, it’ll open a popup box asking you to select what content to backup.

As shown in the image below, by default, both options for your files and database will be checked. You can choose any one between these two or both.

files and database backups

If you are backing up your website for the first time, go with both boxes. Then, click the backup Now button:

Step 3: The backup process will start as you click on the confirmation button. It might take some time, depending on the size of your website.

Once the backup is done, you’ll get a new window wherein, when you scroll down can see your recent backup in the Existing backups section.

Updraft allows you to download the backed-up files to your computer. You can click the five buttons-Database, Plugin, themes, themes, and others under the Backup data section.

If you want, you can also delete or restore them by clicking on the corresponding buttons.

download the backed up files to your computer

Remote storage for your backed up website data

When you backup your website, it saves your backup on your WordPress server.

Though nothing could be better than this, it’s still not the safest because there can be a single point of failure- YOUR SERVER.

Besides, you should configure UpdraftPlus, which will automatically store your backups on an external storage service such as:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Amazon S3
  • Google Cloud
  • Open Stack

For remote storage destinations, you need to go to the Settings tab. Select the particular service icon that you want to connect to.

As you click on the icon, you’ll see the instruction just below the icons to help you connect that service.

Remote storage for your backed up website data

For instance, clicking the Google Drive icon will ask you to save the changes and complete the authorization process.

Once you are done with that, you will get a UpdraftPlus window where you need to click a button to finish the setup process.

Finish UpdraftPlus Backup

Now, you’ll be able to backup your website to your preferred remote destination by checking the box to send this backup to remote storage.

backup to remote storage

Great! You have successfully completed the offsite storage of your website files and database!

The following video tutorial will help you to understand and implement the backup process quickly.

Method 2: How to backup your WordPress site manually?

Using a WordPress backup plugin is a great approach. But you may often find yourself in a situation where you cannot use the Plugin, and then you can do it manually.

Backing up a WordPress site involves two elements – FILES and a DATABASE.

When you manually take the backup, you need to copy all its files and export its database.

You need a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client such as FileZilla or Cyberduck to carry out the first of these two things. In our case, we are using FileZilla.

How to download WordPress files?

You can connect to your website using FTP or SFTP with a set of credentials provided by your web host.

How to backup your WordPress site manually

You’ll find your WordPress root directory as you connect with your server. In many cases, directory is named as the public_html folder.

To get started, copy or download the folder “public“.

How to download WordPress files

Heavier the site, the longer the backup takes. As most WordPress websites have hundreds or thousands of files, the download might take a while.

Once the backup is done, rename that folder to the backup’s date and save it in a safe location.

This way, you can keep your entire WordPress site along with media in a cloud storage solution or on your PC.

The second part of backing up a website is to copy the database.

How to download the WordPress database?

The easiest way to backup the database is by going to your hosting control panel and searching for your database management software.

For this, you can use phpMyAdmin, which many WordPress hosts should offer.

When you click “open phpMyAdmin”, it’ll launch the database manager.

Follow the below-mentioned steps-

  • Select your WordPress site’s database from the menu
  • Go to the Export tab in the menu bar.
  • Select the Quick method (by default, it includes all the tables in a SQL file).
  • Click on SQL for the Format.
  • Click on Go.
How to download the WordPress database

That’s it! Your database file should be downloaded quickly.

Now, you have both- a copy of its database and WordPress root directory. You can simply zip the site directory and the database SQL file together and save them for an emergency.

As you have learned the method of backing up your files and database manually, you need to learn how to restore them manually.

How to restore Your WordPress backup manually?

For this, you need to do the reverse process.

The best way to do so is –

For Files-

  • Upload the backup root folder to your server with a different file name.
  • Once the directory is up, you can delete your existing root folder and name the backup folder again to its original value.

For database-

  • Go back to phpMyAdmin and find your site’s database.
  • Select the Import tool at the top of the screen to import your database backup
How to restore Your WordPress backup manually

Now you have to select a file to import and specify its format.

Choose the database backup file you wish to import. At the bottom of the screen, click on the Go button.

Once the import process is finished, you’ll get a success message.

In a nutshell, if you have a WordPress site, you have to backup your WordPress site for a rainy day!

Till now, we have discussed “The importance of backup” and “How to backup”. We want to dedicate the rest of the post to “How often” and “What to backup”.

Let’s discuss – “How Often.”

How Frequently Should You Backup Your WordPress Site?

How frequently you should backup your WordPress site depends on how often your site updates.

For instance, you don’t have to backup daily for a static portfolio website that never updates. Monthly backups would be perfect for such sites.

On the contrary, if you are a blogger and publish a new blog post every day and your readers share lots of comments, in such cases, you probably need to backup every day.

And for a high-traffic WooCommerce store, you probably need a real-time incremental website backup solution. It’ll help save the changes immediately, so you never lose your essential order data.

Do you get confused while deciding on a backup schedule?

No worries! Just ask yourself this simple question.

Would that negatively impact my site if I lost the website data from the past “X” hours, days, weeks, or months?

You should consider daily backups if X =1 day for your website.

For popular eCommerce sites that generate high traffic, we suggest real-time backups. Because these sites’ data changes every minute with a new order. Having a real-time backup in such cases will save you if anything goes wrong.

What to backup your WordPress site?

WordPress Backup consists of – Files and a Database

Your WordPress site’s files are-

  • Theme/plugin files
  • Image/media uploads in the WordPress content/uploads folders

Your site’s database contains your actual content incorporating-

  • Page Content
  • Blog post content
  • Comments
  • Designs
  • Settings
  • Form submissions

To backup your site, you need to backup your files and database.

However, you might not necessarily need to backup both parts with the same frequency. It depends on how your site works.

Do WordPress hosts carry out Backups?

Usually, you should not rely on your web host to backup your WordPress site.

However, most web hosting companies do take some type of backup; there is no assurance when it comes to the frequency and inclusiveness of those backups.

This is not true for all hosting agencies, as we have some exceptions.

Premium managed WordPress hosting providers such as WP Engine, Kinsta, WPX, etc., offer a robust automatic backup with off-site storage. This is also one of the reasons why managed WordPress hosting services cost more.

Where Should You Store WordPress Backups?

As explained before, one should not rely on your WordPress server for your site’s backups because of the risk of single-point failure.

We are not saying that WordPress site server backup is not helpful; It could help you in some situations, such as accidentally breaking something on your website. But if something goes wrong with your WP server, you will lose your live website and backup.

Two options will allow you to store WordPress backups safely-

  • Your local computer- You can easily download your backup files and database onto your computer’s hard drive.
  • Cloud storage – You can save the backups of your site in the “CLOUD” using services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, DigitalOcean Spaces, Amazon S3, or others.

Additional tip- If you want to create an extra layer of data security, keep three copies of your WordPress website-

  • One primary (your live site)
  • One in your local computer.
  • One in cloud storage

We don’t recommend manual backups. Why?

Throughout this post, you’ve learned that backups are critical, but we feel that manual backups are risky. Here are a few reasons why we think you should not opt for manual website backup-

  • Slows down your website
  • Time-consuming process
  • Partial backup due to server disconnection
  • Downtime

At the same time, we have some positives about using a plugin for website backup.

  • Automated backup
  • Real-time backups
  • No need for storage
  • No downtime
  • Successful restores
  • 24/7 support

Other helpful articles to secure your WordPress site


For many people, learning how to backup a WordPress website is one of the things that might feel non-urgent until something happens to your site. Then, it becomes incredibly urgent but maybe too late.

Taking a backup of your website means taking insurance for your website data. Thus, backing up your WordPress site is critical in protecting your online content. Many great plugins and services are available to help you automate the backup process.

By backing up your site regularly, you can rest assured that your data is safe and secure if something happens to your site. Thus, you should learn to protect yourself from heartbreak down the road.

Author Bio:

I am Abhishek Mehta, CEO & Founder of WordPressfaster. I am a passionate, visionary and fun-loving person with 15 + years of experience in Technology and Marketing. Being a technophile, I slowly developed my interest in writing and started my WordPress blog. I write on any topic that spikes the hint of interest in him. Till now, I have covered business, technology and digital marketing areas.

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