So you just completed launching your first website and you’re really excited because your business has finally caught up with the digital age. You worked really hard to create just the right message that perfectly resonates with your target audience. And you plan to add even more great content over the coming weeks. Weeks come and go and you’re really happy with how your website is progressing. That is until one day you get an email from a client saying that your website isn’t loading for them. You immediately hop online and check your website and your stomach drops.
Your website is gone. You think, “Ok, maybe it’s not as bad as I think.” You reach out to the agency that created your website hoping they can fix it. They promptly look into the situation and discover that your database has been corrupted and your website cannot be fixed. The only option at this point is to restore your website from a backup. Problem is you don’t have one. Good news, your agency has a backup from when the site was first launched. Bad News, is the backup is old and all of the precious content you’ve spend months creating since the site launched is gone forever.
While not a common scenario these types of issues CAN happen. Maybe you got hacked, maybe your service provider had your website on a bad server, etc. Whatever the case may be, it’s important your website is protected.
How Do I Protect my WordPress Website?
The answer is simple, frequent backups. With good backups, in event that your website DOES experience its own tragic Armageddon, you’re covered. The question now becomes how do I backup my website? Sure you can use the built in WordPress export function but it’s not a complete backup and it relies on you to remember to periodically run the export function. If you’re thinking there has to be a better way, then you’d be right. There are plenty of wonderful plugins out there that regularly backup your website for you. Our favorite is BackWPUp. BackWPUp has been downloaded almost half a million times, has a 4 star rating, is very frequently updated, and is available for FREE in the WordPress plugin library.
How to Use BackWPUp
Find BackWPUp by searching in the WordPress plugin library. Download the plugin and click activate. Once the plugin has been installed and activated, you should see a new option in your sidebar that says BackWPUp. Click on BackWPUp to open the dropdown seen below, then click “Add New Job.”
Creating a New Job in BackWPUp
To create a new job, first give your job a name. Then choose what you want to backup, we recommend checking the first four boxes (Database backup, File backup, WordPress XML export, and Installed plugins list). Below that, you have the option to customize the archived file name but it’s really not necessary.
Next you’ll want to choose a backup format. The format isn’t super important it’s really whatever you’re comfortable with. If you’re not sure, you can simply leave the default (Tar GZip) checked.
Now comes the important part, choosing where you’d like your backups to be sent. BackWPUp has plenty of options for storing your backups. The easiest way to backup is probably to select “Folder” which stores your backups in a separate folder on your server. But if your server ever does fail (unlikely) you will lose not only your sites but your backups as well. So it’s not a bad idea to store your backups in a separate location other than where you website resides. At Bright Brain Media, we use Dropbox but you’re free to use whatever option you prefer. You don’t have to choose one or the other, you can backup to several locations simultaneously. For the purpose of this article we’ll go through how to backup to a folder and how to backup to Dropbox.
Backing Up to a Folder
For each backup option you choose, a new tab will be added to the top of the page for that option. To backup to a folder, ensure you’ve selected “Folder” as a backup location, then click the tab that says “Folder” at the top of the page. The next part is pretty simple. Enter a folder name for your backup or keep the default. Once you have the folder structure you want click “Save changes.”
Backing Up to Dropbox
As with folders, choose the checkbox that says “Dropbox.” Again a new tab will be added to the top of the page that says Dropbox. Click the Dropbox tab.
If you don’t have a Dropbox account, click create account to get started. Once you have setup your Dropbox account, choose either “Get Dropbox App auth code” OR “Get full Dropbox auth code.” It doesn’t really matter much which you choose, both will allow you to create backups without issue. Once clicked, a new window will open prompting you to allow BackWPUp to access dropbox. Click “Allow.” You should now see an authorization code that you can copy and paste into the Dropbox tab in BackWPUp.
Once you’ve copied the code, choose a name for your backup folder. I suggest your site name. Once you’ve named your backup folder you can click “Save changes.”
Scheduling Your Backups
Finally, you’ll want to set the frequency of how often your backup will run. To do that, click on the “Schedule” tab at the top of the page. You will now see three options to choose from (Manually only, WordPress Cron, & With a link). Select the WordPress Cron option. Once selected, you should see a new section that says “Schedule execution time.” Please note, the frequency of how often a backup should run will vary widely from customer to customer. If you update your website every day, then you’ll want to run your website update every day. But if you only update your website every couple of weeks or every month, then you can set your backup to run maybe once a week or once every other week. Finally, the backup process can put some stress on your server when running, so it’s best to have it run during a time when your site traffic is low. We run ours at 3am for example.
That’s it! If you’d like you can run the job now to ensure it’s working or wait until the next scheduled backup. Give yourself a pat on the back for taking this important step to ensuring your website is protected.
You may have noticed we did not discuss the other tabs like: DB Backup, Files, XML export, Plugins, etc. For the purposes of this tutorial, the other tabs you can leave as-is. Unless you want to only backup specific portions of your site rather than doing a full backup. But the specifics of that go beyond the scope of this article. For a more in-depth look at how to customize your backups I encourage you to check out Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s course “Extending WordPress Backup to Dropbox” on Lynda.com.