Backing Up Your WordPress Site

Backing up the information in your WordPress installation is very important in maintaining a WordPress site. There are 3 main components of your site you should be sure to backup. The first is the content of your site, and would include things like your posts, pages, and comments. The second is backing up any changed or customized theme files. The third is having a backup of your upload directory. This directory includes files and images you may have uploaded for use on your site. If your host provides cPanel to manage your hosting account, then the first backup component, your site’s content, can be done using cPanel. The second two components, changed theme files and files and images in your upload directory are done using an FTP program like FileZilla. This post will cover using cPanel to back up your database. A follow-up post will cover using FTP to back up images and theme files.

This article only covers using the “Backups” button on the main page of your cPanel administration screen. You can also backup WordPress by using phpMyAdmin. You access that by clicking the “My SQL Databases” button on the cPanel main page, then scrolling to the bottom of that page and clicking the “phpMyAdmin” link. You can find complete instructions in the first section of the following link from the WordPress Codex on using phpMyAdmin for WordPress backups. I will often do a backup using the cPanel instructions in this article and then do another backup using phpMyAdmin, but then I tend to be overly cautious about having backups. The funny thing is that I have never had a need to restore from a backup. But it is important to be prepared just in case something does happen to your WordPress files.

website backup

Why Regular Backups Are Important

Regularly backing up your files, whether your WordPress blog, or just your music, photos, and word processing documents is a very important task. It is certainly best to get in the habit of doing it yourself, but if you prefer to hire someone to do these sorts of administrative tasks, contact me and I can do the backup for you and send you the files for storage on your computer. If you will do it yourself, then read on for the detailed instructions.

The first step I suggest is to make a “WordPress Backups” directory on your local computer that will be sure to get backed up whenever you do your computer’s regular backups. Then within that directory, make a folder named with the date you are doing this backup. In the future, every time you back up WordPress, make a new folder with the date of the backup.

Now it is time to login to cPanel at your hosting account. If you have purchased, or will purchase, hosting as a result of reading my recommendation, then the url you will go to for login in to cPanel is: http://yourdomain.com/cpanel. Of course you will need to change the “yourdomain.com” in that url to your own domain name. If you have a different host and they provide cpanel, the instructions should be the same. If your host uses something other than cPnael, you will need to ask your host for instructions on backing up your databses. cPanel is a very powerful tool with many features I never use. It is, however, a good way to set up and administer email accounts, and to backup your WordPress installation. So, once you are logged into your cPanel account, the way to begin a backup of your WordPress installation database is to find and click the cPanel icon labeled “Backups”.

On the next screen, ignore the “Full Backup” listing at the top for now and find the listings on the left side titled: “Home Directory”, “Download a MySQL Database Backup“, and “Download Email Domain Forwarder or Filter Backup”. Under the “Home Directory” listing on the left, click the link titled “Download a home directory Backup“. Save the file in the dated folder you just created on your local computer. Next, click the link under “Download a MySQL Database Backup” and save that file to the same, dated directory. Then, click the link with your site name beneath the “aliases” heading under “Download Email Domain Forwarder or Filter Backup” section, and save that file to the dated backup directory on your computer. Finally click your site name under the “forwarders” heading and save that file to the same dated directory.

Now that you have done the manual backups, go back to the top of the cPanel Backups page and click the link titled, “Generate/Download a Full Backup” under the “Full Backup” heading. On the page that comes up, leave everything as is, and click the “Generate Backup” button. A separate “full” backup will be generated and saved to your home directory of your hosting account. In my next post on FTP backup I will tell you how to download that file to the same dated backup folders you used above.

That’s it. After the first time you do this it will go faster than it took you to read this post! Of course, if you would rather have us handle this along with other administrative tasks, We are available to do website backup that for a set monthly fee or on an hourly basis as you need help.

Paying For Website Administration

I am sometimes asked if paying someone to help you with administration and maintenance of your website a necessary expense. The answer I usually give is “yes, if you are not good about doing it yourself”. The problem with this answer is that it leaves the “good” part of doing it yourself open for interpretation, and that interpretation is usually done by someone fairly new to WordPress. This concerns me a bit because I know that there are thousands of people using WordPress for their blogs or websites who are doing little or none of the required maintenance and administration. I know this because a few of them are my own clients.

website administration

Who Needs Website Administration

Most of the time when I set up a website or blog for a client, they eventually want to take over the administration for themselves. Usually they do take the time to learn how to do this, but in a few cases, they do not. It is these folks I worry about. They have learned how to post to their blog. They have mastered uploading images and other content. In a couple of cases, they have over 50 posts to their blogs. But I know they are not even looking at their spam ques, updating their plugins, or occasionally updating to a more recent version of WordPress. I know a few of them do not ever backup their sites! Why do they take this dangerous approach to protecting their valuable content? I think it is usually a time and money issue. It takes some time to learn to do it yourself. It takes a little money to have someone else do it for you.

We provide administration and management services for WordPress & Joomla sites. Even though I charge by the hour, the cost to clients is generally only between $40 and $60 per month. For this they get their sites backed up, their plugins updated, their spam que checked, and access to me for emailed questions. Some of my clients are using their website for personal purposes rather that professional or business purposes. Usually the professional sees the importance of protecting their site’s content. Often the person with a personal site feels they can not afford to pay for administrative services and lets it slide.

The individual that I really worry about is the person who sees their website as part of their professional life, but does not feel the can afford the time or the expense to safeguard their content. I don’t see this that often, only a couple of times with people who are or have been clients. I have however, heard first hand, many sad stories that could have been easily prevented with a little time or money. If you have a WordPress site, I strongly recommend you make sure the administration and maintenance necessary to protect your hard work gets done… either by yourself or by someone you pay to do it. It is so important.

I had a client that could not initially afford to pay me for monthly administration. She understood that it needed to get done so she suggested she write two posts a month for me on one of my other websites in exchange for me backing up here site and checking her admin tasks twice a month. As she was a good writer, I readily agreed. She eventually became a monthly paid client. Now she has learned how to do it all herself but still occasionally writes a guest article. The key is that when you have a website, certain tasks need to be done one way or another. If they don’t get done, eventually you may regret it.