I recently stumbled upon the UpdraftPlus backup plugin for WordPress after a client mentioned it. This is a free plugin that not only backs up your WordPress database, but also optionally backs up your site’s theme, the ‘uploads’ directory and plugins. It backs up everything you need in the event that your hosting company’s web server crashes, or a disaster hits their facility.
Over the years I have found that very few WordPress users understand the need to perform regular backups. But over the years several site owners came to me with tales of web server crashes where the hosting company was not maintaining regular backups, or hosting companies that went out of business and left customers stranded. Without backup copies of the database, theme, images and uploaded web objects, there is little that can be done to reconstruct the site. With current backups, the site can be moved to another host and reconstructed in about an hour.
The bottom line is that you cannot trust a hosting company to keep current backups of your site. If you want reliable backups that allow the web site to be quickly reconstructed in the event of a disaster, backups are your responsibility.
The Four Rules for Backups
Follow these basic backup rules and you should not lose any sleep about a disaster striking your hosting company.
- Never, ever store a backup on your web server. If the server is destroyed, so is your backup. Always store backups separate from the web server in a secure location.
- Make sure that you back up the database and everything in the wp-content directory and any special directories you created or were created by your plugins. Some plugins create special sub-directories in the wp-content directory. These should automatically be included with a full UpdraftPlus backup. However, if you or your site developer created a separate directory, such as an ‘images’ directory that is not under the wp-content directory, make sure that you keep copies of that and store it securely.
- Store backups in a secure place. This means somewhere separate from your server where the information will not be lost, stolen or damaged. This can be on your PC, but I prefer using a USB thumb drive or external hard drive.
- Perform backups at least once per month for sites that rarely change, or whenever you make changes to the content, images or theme. If you make daily changes to your site, you should be doing daily or at least weekly backups.
If you are like most site owners and forget to do regular backups, UpDraft Plus will do automatic backups for you and can either e-mail them to you or will automatically send them to a remote storage system, such as Amazon’s S3 or Dropbox. Just make sure that wherever you send it, it is stored securely.