Losing Your Work Isn’t Fun

Install WordPress Backup Plugins

Some of the plugins I consider essential for anyone running a website on WordPress include those for backing up the site. You never want to lose your articles, and you also don’t want to lose all the work you’ve done tweaking the WordPress installation.

Get The WP Files AND The Database

Sometimes, people backup the site files (perhaps using their FTP client), but miss backing up the SQL database. The database is where all the articles and comments are stored. Or the reverse happens – their host backs up the database, but they fail to back up their WordPress configuration, and they lose hours of tweaking and configuration.

My Preferred Plugin For Backing Up the Database

For the database, I use WordPress Database Backup by Austin Matzko. I like that I can backup to my computer or to an email account. Sending backups to a Gmail account works well for many of my clients. You can backup at any time you choose, or schedule backups hourly, daily or weekly. You can choose optional tables to include in the backup – in general, if you’re unsure, include them.

Wordpress Database Backup Plugin

Go to Tools, Backup in your administration panel to find the customization settings. While it depends on your frequency of posting, weekly backups work well for many sites.

My Preferred Plugin For Backing Up the WordPress Files

WordPress Backup (by BTE) will backup the upload directory (images), current theme directory, and plugins directory to a zip file, which can be mailed to an email account. Sometimes this file can get rather large, particularly if you have a lot of images, but for smaller sites it can be a very useful plugin. Again, you can choose hourly, daily, or weekly backups. Weekly is usually good for most sites unless you’re tweaking your theme a lot, or posting very frequently. The configuration for the plugin will be found under Settings, WordPress Backup.

WordPress Backup by BTE

When Something Goes Wrong

I’ve learned that the first thing to try when something goes wrong, before restoring backups, is to try disabling all plugins. If you can’t log into your site administration, you can do this through FTP. I’ll put something up soon about how to do that. If you know how to FTP into your site, just rename all your plugin folders. That will cause them to be “not found” and automatically disabled by WordPress. Often that’s enough to get you back into your site administration.

Automatic Backups Take Away Stress

It’s a good feeling to know that you have recent copies of everything when something goes wrong. Particularly before you do anything major, like upgrading WordPress, make sure you have fresh backups.  You don’t want to be reduced to using the Wayback Machine to try to recover your articles, particularly since it usually only lists site pages more than six months old. Install these free WordPress plugins, and you’ll always have recent backups.

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5 Responses to Losing Your Work Isn’t Fun
  1. Pete Michaud
    February 22, 2010 | 8:25 am

    This is SO important!

    I would add that in addition to backups you should have a recovery plan. Make sure you can actually use the backups you create to rebuild your site in a short period. You would be shocked at how many of the people who “have backups”, can’t actually use them for anything!

    Last, for the more technically inclined, I wrote a shell script you can use to package up your site and database and download them via FTP:


    If you follow those instructions, be certain to complete the final (arguably most important) step 8)

  2. Karilee
    February 24, 2010 | 1:39 pm

    Thanks for dropping by, Pete. I thought about adding a section on “testing” your backups when I wrote this. I do agree it’s very important, but I’m not trying to be complete here. In fact I’m deliberately writing on the 80/20 principle, especially for this early content. The 20% that will give my readers 80% of what they need to know to get a decent business site up inexpensively.

    So when I thought about it, I realized that the person I write for simply CANNOT safely “test” their backup – and if they try and something goes wrong, the odds of them being able to restore their site are low. I decided that for now, if someone has these two backups (and perhaps another that their host does), odds are that they have enough for someone to help them if a catastrophe occurs. Unfortunately, for most beginners, trying to do a test restore is high-risk, but I probably will revisit that topic later.

    I’m going take advantage of your script for my Wow guild website – we haven’t been backing it up as often as it should be, so I’ll pass it on to our Admin. Thanks!

  3. Suhasini
    March 4, 2010 | 2:59 pm

    Very nice article and it is really necessary to get backup in wordpress. thanks for sharing.

  4. Karilee
    March 5, 2010 | 5:22 pm

    You’re welcome, Suhasini. Glad you found it helpful. I’m definitely going to pass the link for your new article on learning CSS on to a friend, she was just looking for that information.

  5. Emilee Chiarini
    October 16, 2010 | 8:17 pm

    Nice post! Thanks!

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