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Backing up Your WordPress Website

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What are Backups and why are they important?

Backups are basically a copy of your website. They are important for even the simplest of websites, because without them, your website could be lost. This could happen if you fail to pay your hosting invoices or if your website is hacked.

If your website is simple and static, the loss may not be the end of the world. But many websites contain lots of data that may not be stored elsewhere – such as blog articles, customer data and order history. Losing this information could be a costly and time-consuming experience.

It’s not a question of whether to back up your website, rather a question of how frequently and how many copies to retain.

Backups are important for all websites, though frequency and approach may vary depending on criticality and risk.


Hosting Backups

Hosting Backups are backups of your website taken by your hosting account provider. Your WordPress website consists of a bunch of folders and files, plus a database. Reputable hosts will include daily backups of both of these. The Backups are typically replaced on a rolling basis. For instance, 30 daily rolling backups means that there will always be 30 copies of your website available, from the last 30 days. This is perfect if you hit an issue following a software update. It’s not going to help you though if your website gets hacked and you don’t notice for more than 30 days – because all of the 30 backups will contain that hack/virus too!

Cloud Backups

Like other cloud services, Cloud Backups are copies of your website files and database stored somewhere in the Cloud, like a Google Drive or Dropbox. You could choose to store more than 30 days worth of backups in the cloud or to save them at a less regular period (say weekly for 52 weeks).

Off-site Backups

If your website is business critical, you may want to consider storing your backups at an off-site location in addition – i.e. a location that is physically in a different place to your business computing and your hosting and/or cloud. This gives you the best chance of recovery in a disaster.

How often should Backups be taken?

As already mentioned, this depends on your business – there is no “one size fits all”. It will also depend on what level of risk you accept.

Let’s consider two examples:

A. Your website is a simple, static website that provides details about your services and your contact details. It has not been updated since it first went live, there is no customer login area and no blog.

Suggested approach: Store at least one copy of the website files and database in at least two locations – such as a Google Drive plus an external computer drive. If software is being updated on the website (wordpress, themes, plugins), then replace these backups periodically.

B. Your website is an eCommerce store with a few orders per day.

Suggested approach: You can never predict when a failure might occur, so your should consider hourly backups (or even more frequently). A solid backup retention policy is the 3-2-1 method. This states that organisations should create three copies of data, that copies are stored on two different types of storage media and one copy of is sent off-site. 

We recommend UpdraftPlus Premium for WordPress users. This plugin offers peace of mind for €55 per year.

Features include:

  • Schedule backups from between every 4 hours to monthly
  • Manual backups on demand
  • Incremental backups
  • Separate backup schedules for files and database
  • Supports backup to Google Drive, Microsoft shared drive, Dropbox and more
  • 1Gb of secure storage via Amazon S3
  • Backup to multiple destinations
  • Encrypted databased backups and encrypted transfer to cloud
  • Reporting & monitoring
  • One-click backup restore
  • Support

    About the Author

    Victoria Bennett

    Victoria is a technology consultant and founder of Alpha Pixa. Her specialist expertise includes Wordpress, WooCommerce and SEO.