The Fastest Ways to a Full Backup of Your WordPress Files and Database

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Creating regular backups is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a WordPress website or blog. Your hosting server can crash, your database might get corrupted, your site might get hacked, or any number of other improbable scenarios might happen.

But all of them have the same unfortunate result — irreparable data loss. And losing your data equals losing your income in almost all cases.

Over the years I have identified three great ways to fully backup your WordPress files and database.

Method No.1 — FTP

The fastest way to backup your WordPress files only — not the database, though, is to use WinSCP.

To create a backup of all your files, launch WinSCP and log in to your FTP server. You will need to find the FTP access credentials that your hosting provider sent you when you contracted their services.

You need five pieces of information:

  • File protocol
  • Host name
  • Port number
  • User name
  • Password

The file protocol is usually SFTP. The host name is usually your domain name. The port number is usually 22. The user name and password are hopefully something unique and hard to guess.

Once you managed to log into your FTP server, navigate to your WordPress installation’s root folder. There, select all the items you wish to back up. To do so, you can click on the first item with your mouse, then scroll down, and hold down Shift while you click on the last item. If you want to selectively back up only certain items, hold down the Ctrl key while you individually click on each item that you wish to back up.

When you are happy with your selection, right-click anywhere on the selection and select File Custom Commands > Tar/GZip from the drop-down menu.

WinSCP < File Custom Commands < Tar/GZip

WinSCP < File Custom Commands < Tar/GZip

WinSCP will prompt you to let it open a secure shell connection to the FTP server. Give it the go ahead.

Next, it will ask you to give the backup file a name. You can leave it at the default archive.tgz file name.

The creation of the archive file will only take a few seconds. You can then download the archive file to your local hard drive.

I recommend using 7-Zip or MultiCommander to extract the content of the .tgz file.

Method No.2 — cPanel

Another easy way to back up your WordPress files and database is to use cPanel. Most VPS hosting providers use it by default. Some shared hosting providers (the better ones) give you limited access to cPanel as well.

Log in to your cPanel dashboard. We will be using the File Manager and phpMyAdmin for the backup process.

cPanel dashboard — File Manager and phpMyAdmin

File Manager

In File Manager, select all the items you wish to back up and right click on your selection. Select the Compress option from the drop-down menu.

cPanel < File Manager < Compress

cPanel < File Manager < Compress

Similarly to WinSCP, the File Manager will show you a popup window where you can select a compression method and a give a name to you backup file.

cPanel < File Manager < compression type and archive file name

cPanel < File Manager < compression type and archive file name

Once the compression is done, you can simply download the archive.tar.gz (or whatever name you gave it) file to your local hard drive.

Again, you can then use 7-Zip or MultiCommander to extract the content of the .tar.gz file.

phpMyAdmin

In phpMyAdmin, select the database you wish to back up in the left pane of the window.

In the right pane of the window, click on the Export menu item.

By default, phpMyAdmin will serve you with the quick and easy option.

phpMyAdmin Quick Export

phpMyAdmin Quick Export

Make sure that you select the Custom option. Going with the custom option, will display you a whole lot of extra possibilities.

phpMyAdmin Custom Export

phpMyAdmin Custom Export

The two most important choices you should make are Output: Compression: gzipped and Format: SQL.

When you are done, don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the Go button.

Your browser will prompt you to save the backup file to your local hard drive.

As I mentioned before, you can then use 7-Zip or MultiCommander to extract the content of the .tar.gz file.

Method No.3 — Plugins

You can create backups of your WordPress site’s files and database using plugins, too.

There are many plugins that can be used but I stick with two that have impeccable reputation and which I have used on many different sites without any problems.

WP-DB Manager

WP-DB Manager can be used to back up the database of your WordPress site. It doesn’t create file backups, therefore it can be combined with the WinSCP method described above.

I have written previously about WP-DB Manager in detail. For the specific of setting up and using this plugin, please, refer to the post How to Backup a WordPress Database.

UpDraftPlus

UpDraftPlus is a great plugin, too. It has a premium and a free version, but the free version will most probably cover all your backup needs.

Once you install and activate UpDraftPlus, there is not much that you will need to set up. But I would recommend increasing the backup file size limit under WordPress Dashboard > Settings > UpdraftPlusBackups > Settings > Expert Settings. The default 400 MB might be insufficient for larger sites with plenty of content.

UpdraftPlus Expert Settings

UpdraftPlus Expert Settings

You can schedule the frequency of your backups in UpdraftPlus.

UpdraftPlus Scheduled Backup

UpdraftPlus Scheduled Backup

What’s more you can set up the backup frequency separately for your files and your database. For example, you might want to back up your database more frequently, in case you publish a lot of content.

You can also check your existing backups from within UpdraftPlus’ settings…

UpdraftPlus Existing Backups

UpdraftPlus Existing Backups

…or you can use WinSCP to download the backup files directly from your FTP server.

UpdraftPlus Backup Files Over FTP

UpdraftPlus Backup Files Over FTP

Method No.4 — Use Your Hosting Provider’s Native Solution

If your host provides a backup solution, even a paid one, I recommend going with it. You will have peace of mind for a couple of bucks per month.

I have good experience with GoDaddy’s backup services for their VPS hosting plans. They provide 30 days worth of backups — both files and database. I am sure that many other first tier hosts provide the same or similar backup services as well.

Final Thoughts

Making regular backups is one of the most important aspects of having a functional and secure WordPress site.

However, I understand that not every website owner or blogger has the time or is experienced enough to do such maintenance jobs.

That’s why I put together the Platinum WordPress maintenance package which includes the following features:

  • regular core, theme, and plugin updates
  • automatic conflict resolution and troubleshooting
  • regular thorough site cleanup
  • regular database cleanup and backup
  • taking care of the site in WHM and cPanel (if available)
  • unlimited small fixes
  • free in-depth website audit
  • free support ticket system
  • free email consultation
  • fast turnaround times

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your WordPress site, please, feel free to reach out to me. I am always happy to help!

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