Backing up your WordPress website

Backing up your website is an essential, regular task but one that often gets overlooked or taken for granted. Should you assume that your hosting company does it for you? Or your website designer? Or do it yourself? I automate the task using a WordPress plugin called BackupBuddy.

Many WordPress plugins are free but BackupBuddy is a premium plugin

For an annual fee of US $150 I can use it to back up an unlimited number of clients’ website, which makes it great value. I simply wouldn’t have time to backup a couple of dozen sites manually every week.

Once installed on your website, BackupBuddy checks that the hosting server’s settings are conducive to doing a backup, and if there are problems, gives you advice on how to resolve them. In practice, I’ve found that only about one in four hosting packages needs tweaking in some way.

The plugin also runs a check for malware – handy, because if your site has been hacked you can revert to a previous backup.

Unlike some plugins, Backup Buddy backs up everything

That includes your MySQL database, WordPress core files, theme, uploaded images and documents. And it saves it as a single compressed file. If you want to exclude one or more folders, you can.

You can set up a schedule – I tend to do weekly backups but the can be daily, fortnightly or monthly – and BackupBuddy will automatically do the backup and send you an email to tell you it’s ready. Then you can login to WordPress and download the backup. Even better, you can have the backup sent to your Dropbox account, or sent by FTP to another location for safe keeping.

I’ve seen some problems arise but they’ve all been fixable

I’ve got the plugin to work on every single website, on hosting from several different hosting companies. In my experience, on two out of three websites Backup Buddy works correctly first time. Here are some of the more common problems that can arise.

WordPress directories may need permissions changing to 755. Backup Buddy will tell you whether they’re right or not, you’ll need to have FTP access to the website, or know how to login to your hosting control panel to change these folders’ permissions.

Sometimes the amount of memory your site is allowed to run PHP code, has been limited. This can be fixed by adding a line of code to a WordPress file – but it isn’t always so straightforward. Occasionally a website’s PHP.ini file will need to be found and edited, depending on how your hosting company has configured it.

One website wouldn’t back up at all, despite all the server settings looking correct. Switching to Backup Buddy’s alternative method of zipping files, fixed that issue.

All in all, it’s a great plugin. It may need some configuration but usually works with minimal tweaking. It’s a reliable solution to keeping your website safe and secure.

Alternatives to Backup Buddy

VaultPress is a competitor product to Backup Buddy. I’ve not used it but heard good things about it. It’s more expensive, and simply not an option for someone like me with 20+ websites to backup. But if you run only one or two websites, it’s probably the better WordPress plugin to purchase.

A manual backup is preferable to an automated one. Some website professionals would only ever do it manually and don’t trust plugins. Even if you use a plugin to backup your website, schedule the occasional manual backup too.


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