How many hours have you spent working on your website?
It’s probably more than you think. When you consider writing and updating blog posts, sourcing and adding images, moderating comments, maintaining themes and plugins, then the hours start to build up.
And do you know how easy it is to lose all those countless hours of work, forever?
Imagine going to your website tomorrow and finding that it’s vanished. There’s nothing but a blank screen staring back at you. And when you try to troubleshoot the problem, you discover and the database and every single file missing.
It may sound extreme, but it happens more often than you think. There are plenty of causes for website failure, including:
Your credit card quietly expired, and your payment for hosting didn’t go through, so your host deletes your account.
A fire, flood, blackout, or security breach affects the datacenter that houses your server.
Your host accidentally deletes your files (yes, unfortunately, this happens more often than you’d think).
A misplaced comma in your website’s code brings your whole site down, but you can’t find where the problem lies.
That’s why you need an insurance policy for your site.
If the worst were to happen, a backup solution would keep your data safe and let you restore your website with minimum downtime.
Why your host’s backups aren’t enough
If you’re relying on your web host to backup your site for you, then you might be disappointed when disaster strikes.
I’ve read many stories from grief-stricken site owners who thought their web host was responsible for backups. It’s a fair assumption, but in most cases also a wrong one.
Some web hosts backup once in a blue moon.
Some don’t know if they’ve backed up, which probably means they haven’t.
Some don’t know how to restore a backup.
Always look carefully at the web host’s terms of service. You’ll notice that most hosts put the ultimate responsibility and liability for backups solely on the customer — you.
Managed WordPress hosting is a safer, but more expensive, option. But even if you’re paying extra for guaranteed backups, you should check where they’re stored. If something happens to the hosting company or their datacenters, you need to know that your backup is stored in a safe offsite location.
Ultimately, it’s better to have backups you control, rather than relying only on your web host.
You need to be prepared
If you don’t want to lose countless hours of work, you need to have a current full backup of your website ready to be restored when you need it.
While there are plenty of WordPress backup plugins available, many of them only backup some of your website. For example, they might back up your database, but ignore your media library and customized theme files.
In order to be 100% prepared for the worst case scenario, you need a plugin that:
Creates thorough and complete backups of your entire site; not just your database, but also your media library, themes, plugins, etc.
Is completely automated: you should be able to schedule automated backups to run at regular intervals.
Makes it easy to restore from backup, whether you need just one file or your entire website.
To help you choose, we rounded up the top 5 WordPress plugins that fulfill those requirements.
Top 5 complete backup plugins for WordPress
Duplicator, as its name suggests, is best-known for migrating or cloning a site from one location to another. But it’s also one of the best backup plugins, too.
The free version lets you manually back up your entire WordPress site or parts of it.
The premium version, Duplicator Pro, allows you to run instant or scheduled backups. You can back up to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive or Amazon S3 for safe storage. Plus you have the option to limit the number of stored backups, so you don’t run out of storage space.
Duplicator Pro also includes an email notification system, so you get alerted if there are any issues when it’s backing up your site.
Simple to set up and configure in just a few minutes.
Backup a WordPress site or parts of a site.
Save backups to Dropbox, FTP, Google Drive or Amazon S3 for safe storage.
VaultPress is a backup and security scanning service designed and built by Automattic, the same company that operates WordPress.com.
VaultPress, now part of Jetpack, automatically backs up your entire site, including every post, comment, media file, revision, and dashboard setting, to their servers on a daily basis. The one-click restore process is easy to use, and their knowledgeable support staff is always on hand to assist if required.
Each plan also includes brute force attack protection, uptime monitoring, spam protection, site migration, stats, and an activity log.
Backs up your site automatically every day.
Includes backup storage.
One-click restorations and repairs from your WordPress or VaultPress dashboard.
Customer support included to help you restore or repair your site.
Scans your site daily for malware, vulnerable code, and other security threats. And offers a manual or automated resolution, depending on your plan.
30-day money back guarantee.
Price: Starting at $3.50 per month for the Personal plan
BackupBuddy is a premium backup plugin from iThemes that allows you to set up automatic backups on a schedule you choose.
Unlike some plugins that only back up the database, BackupBuddy backs up everything on your WordPress site. But you also have the option to back up just your database or select specific tables or files to exclude from your backups. This flexibility means you can schedule a mix of full and partial backups as required – hourly, twice daily, daily, every other day, bi-weekly, weekly, monthly and more.
BackupBuddy allows you to store your backups remotely offsite using BackupBuddy Stash, Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox and more. Equally as important, it has a process for quickly and easily restoring WordPress from a backup.
Complete backups of your database, media library, theme files, plugins and everything else you need to restore your site from scratch.
Easy to set up and configure in just a few minutes — no complicated settings.
Set automatic backup schedules on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Set up multiple separate automatic backups with their own options and settings.
Save backups to BackupBuddy Stash, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, or email.
Restore your site either by uploading an ImportBuddy file which walks you through the process, step-by-step, or restore individual files straight from your WordPress dashboard.
The free version of UpdraftPlus is the highest-ranking WordPress scheduled backup plugin, with over a million active installs. With such a vast user base you know it’s been tried and tested in many different scenarios.
Unlike some plugins, UpdraftPlus restores, as well as backing up, your website. Once you’ve set up your schedule, you can choose to store your backups in Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, or their own UpdraftVault. Whatever the location, UpdraftPlus lets you automatically restore your backup directly from the WordPress control panel, which is a great time-saver.
The premium version has a ton of extra features to keep your site safe and secure. There are plenty of add-ons available that give you even more functionality, such as a site duplicator and migrator, automatic backups before any updates to plugins, themes and WordPress itself, multiple backup storage destinations, and an advanced reporting tool.
Backup your whole site or individual themes, plugins, content, etc.
Restore individual files, just your database, or your entire site.
Set up multiple automatic backups on different schedules.
Store your backups with Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace Cloud, DreamObjects, FTP, Microsoft OneDrive, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV, or OpenStack Swift.
Restore your site using backups made from other plugins, including BackWPup, BackupWordPress, Simple Backup, or WordPress Backup To Dropbox.
Customer support available with the premium version.
BackWPup is one of the most popular free backup plugins for WordPress, with over 600,000 active users and more than 5 million downloads.
It’s the backup plugin I first used, as it’s straightforward to configure and use. Plus backup jobs can be started either immediately or scheduled.
You can save your complete WordPress installation to an external backup service, like Dropbox, or Amazon S3. Everything is saved in a single zip file, so you can quickly restore files in case of emergency.
There’s also a premium version, BackWPup Pro, that’s packed with even more features to protect your site, including tools that can scan, repair, and optimize your database.
Full database and file backup, plus a list of all your installed plugins.
Store your backups to Dropbox, S3, FTP, RackSpace Cloud, Google Drive, SugarSync, website directory, and more.
Create daily or weekly automatic backups.
Includes a step-by-step restoration wizard tool.
Includes a database optimization, scanning, and repair tool.
Choose to store your backups in .zip, .tar, tar.gz, or tar.bz2 format.
Disaster never strikes. Until it does — and then it’s too late. Be proactive, and make sure you have a backup and restore plan.
Even a simple free backup plugin is better than none, but for real peace of mind, it’s best to get a premium plugin that will backup your entire site and makes it easy to restore when needed.
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