“Make sure you backup your WordPress site“. “Get your site a great online backup service”. These are words we hear around us all the time. But what does it mean? What is a backup of a WordPress site? Not sure? Read on. We’ll cover the principles of a great backup solution and how it applies to your WordPress site.
1. Complete WordPress Backup
The backup must be complete. You must make sure that you backup not only your database but also all your files. Your WordPress site consists of two equally important parts.
a. Database: This stores all your posts, pages, and comments. It also stores your configuration. If you are running an e-commerce site, all the information related to the products and all the transactions are stored here in the database.
b. Files: Themes, Plugins, Uploads, Images are stored as files.
2. Regular Backups
The backup must be done often. For a site which is very active and posting multiple times a day, hourly backups are the best option. On the other hand, if you have a design agency, and your website changes less often, it can be backed up once in a while. However, make sure you carefully backup and check backups both before and after any major changes such as WordPress upgrade or a new plugin installation.
3. Automated Backups
We already have a million things to do. Adding another manual chore to the busy day of writing articles and managing your community is not the best thing to do. We hence recommend an automated schedule of daily backups which will make sure that this important task does not fall prey to procrastination or overwork.
4. Offsite Backups
Now that we are doing regular automated backups of our complete site, we need to make sure that we keep the backups in a safe remote location. This is one common mistake which many people make. They store the backups on the same machine. If this machine crashes, not only the original but also the backup will be lost! Or, they store the backup in the same office. In case of natural disasters (storms, volcanoes, quakes or floods), both the original and the backup are at risk. Hence the wisest action is to keep the backups in a remote location. There are plugins which can store your backup in a variety of locations such as Amazon S3, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Others can email it. Diversify your backup.
5. Third Party Backups
Another common mistake which many people make is that they rely on their hosting providers to do the backups for them. While this is definitely better than “no backups”, prudence dictates that backups should always be third-party. If the hosting provider gets hacked, there is a good chance that you will lose the backups too.
6. Versioned Backups
You should not only keep the latest backup but also the history of old backups. This ensures that even if there is a corruption in the data, which goes undetected for some time, you can get back to some recent version. This is very common when your site gets hacked. You may realize this only a week later, and it could end up being too late as the backup would have the hack too. But if you had a week old backups, you could easily restore from that. Further, the different backups files should be easy to manage and named appropriately. During the crisis, you should be certain which file has the exact backup you need.
7. Test the Restore
We have this quote which we use very often: “A backup is only as good as its restore”. Make sure that you test out the restores of your backups. You do not want to land in a situation where your backup systems fail you and you realize it too late. Even backup systems are prone to bugs and given the complex nature of WordPress deployments, there will be times, when the backups software will fail you. Hence, it is best to test your backups from time-to-time.
8. Security Is Critical
A backup contains the complete data of your site. This can include critical information such as passwords or API keys. Hence safety and security of the backup files is critical. It should be encrypted and stored in a safe way.
Here are a few of our favorite online backup services: