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.
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.