How To Do Reliable WordPress Backups Fast and Free

Wordpress Backups - Reliable, Fast and Free

Sooner or later it’s going to happen. Your WordPress site is going to crash. Do you have a plan in place? If not, I’m going to recommend two backup plugins that will automatically backup your WordPress site. Best of all both of them are free.

Why just two recommendations? You don’t need a dozen possible choices. The more choices, the less likely you are to take action. The first thing you should do after completing a new WordPress installation is add a backup plugin and do your first backup. If you aren’t doing backups now, both of my recommendations are easy and quick to set up.

There are only three requirements of a good backup utility.

  • It’s automatic — set and forget. It should require no intervention on your part to initiate the backup.
  • It has built-in redundancy. It offers at least two storage options for your backup with at least one to a remote site, i.e., Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
  • It’s reliable.

You May Have A Backup and Not Even Know It

Before I get to my recommendations, you may have a backup of your website or sites that you may not know about. Many web hosts do a basic backup your websites — they just don’t promote it.

For example, Bluehost automatically backs up websites saving the latest daily backup as well as the most recent weekly and monthly backup. They also backup your databases. It should not be your primary backup utility, but rather a backup of last resort. In the case of Bluehost, you can find your backups hidden in the cPanel > File Management> Site Backup Pro. Yes, they hide the free utility with the premium app.

My Recommended Backup Plugins

If you want easy-peasy, get UpdraftPlus. You can install it, set it up and do your first backup in less than 10 minutes. UpdraftPlus, like most backup plugins, is a freemium product. With the free version, you get 1-click restore, local storage, and remote storage. It’s an ideal plugin for the WordPress beginner.

If you have a little more technical know-how, get BackWPup. It’s another freemium product. It doesn’t have 1-click restore, but you have greater flexibility in scheduling your backups. You get local storage of your backup, and, if you’re like me, you can back up to one, two, three or more remote storage sites, i.e. insanely paranoid redundancy. Restoring your site involves a few more steps, but it’s not complicated. This plugin is for the advanced beginner or intermediate WordPress user.

Pick one and go for it. Both are very capable and reliable. Yes, there are more options out there but, you just need to get this done now. Some are free, some are premium, and some are ultra-premium, but in the end they all do the same thing. You can always change later, and you don’t get caught in an endless loop of information paralysis.

Updraft Plus – The Details

Updraft Plus is very simple to setup. I used it for a few years, and it served me well. It has one-click restore and a variety of backup intervals, including:

  • Every 4, 8 or 12 hours
  • Daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

In addition to local storage, you can also select one remote storage site, from Dropbox, Amazon S3, FTP, Email and a few other lesser known storage providers. I recommend Dropbox. It’s easy to use, and you get two gigs for storage in a free account — more than enough storage for a month’s worth of daily backups.

On the downside, if you want to schedule your backups to occur at 3 am, then you need to stay up until 3 am to start your first backup. Future backups are based on the starting time of the first backup. If that isn’t for you, you can purchase an add-on for a scheduling feature. It runs $10 per site.

If you want to backup to more than one remote site, you need another add-on, another $10 per site.

UpdraftPlus does a “partial” WordPress backup meaning it only backs up the wp-content folder in WordPress. This includes your WordPress themes, plugins, uploads and all other directories in the wp-content folder. Additionally, it will backup your WordPress database, which includes your posts, pages, settings, etc.

The WordPress wp-content folder contains all of the specifics about your site. In that sense, it’s a complete backup.

The plugin creates five separate files during the backup process. If you’re unable to use the 1-click restore for some reason, then you will need to complete a fresh install of core WordPress on your site before adding/replacing the four backup directories that UpdraftPlus created. The fifth file is the site database, which is installed separately.

If you have multiple sites, it will store all backups in a single remote site directory. That can get messy if you have a lot of sites to backup. However, there is an add-on (of course) that will allow separate directories.

The UpdraftPlus dashboard has a somewhat dated design, but that doesn’t detract from its utility. UpdraftPlus is very easy to use and gets the job done.

Despite these minor downsides, I like UpdraftPlus’ simplicity and reliability. It’s a great solution for beginners.

UpdraftPlus is a freemium product. They have packages that include all of their add-ons ranging in price from $70 to $145 depending on the number of sites. That said, the add-ons are convenience features. The free version is more than adequate to safeguard your WordPress site.

BackWPup – The Details

BackWPup is another very capable backup plugin. Unlike UpdraftPlus, it does a full WordPress backup — meaning you don’t need to complete a fresh install before restoring the backup. The backup creates a single file containing your entire WordPress installation, including the database. Simply extract the file in your site directory on your web host. Replace the database with its backed-up copy and you’re back in business.

The lack of a 1-click restore option means you need to be comfortable using your web host’s cPanel as well as being proficient with FTP to restore your WordPress site. If you are, then BackWPup provides more options and greater flexibility in configuring your backups.

The BackWPup dashboard has a more modern look, but more menu options to customize your backup process. For example, you can create partial WordPress backups like UpdraftPlus. You have the option to use more than one remote site to store backups. You can also schedule specific backup times and designate the specific directory for your backups at your remote storage sites.

Free remote backup options include email, FTP Dropbox, Sugarsync, Rackspace Cloud, Microsoft Azure and an S3 service.

Like UpdraftPlus, BackWPup is a freemium plugin. Premium features include backup to Amazon Glacier and Google Drive, differential backups to all remote sites, and several other convenience features. Plans range in price from $75 to $190 depending the number of domains to be backed-up.

The free version, while requiring a little more technical knowledge to use, is more than adequate to meet the needs of 90% of users. It’s a great option for the advanced beginner to intermediate WordPress user.

The Bottomline for WordPress Backups

If you don’t have a backup solution in place right now, choose one of these plugins and do your first back . . . NOW. It only takes a few minutes and having that peace of mind is invaluable. In that respect, both of these plugins deliver.

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