Backing Up Your WordPress Blog

Backing up WordPress isn’t much different that backing up your website. You copy all the files and data that is used to run your WordPress blog to your computer for safe keeping should you mess up tinkering with your blog, it gets hacked or the hosting goes down.

Why Do I Need to Backup My WordPress Blog?

Working Live is a Dangerous Situtation

As WordPress has developed over the years, it has become user friendly (in their opinion) by providing a screen where you can edit your WordPress theme and functions files on the fly, meaning do it live. The problem with this is that should you make a disasterous mistake (even the pros do) you have no back up copy to put things back the way they were before the oops without hunting down the theme again and downloading a good copy.

There is also the problem of you learning more about how to customize or secure your WordPress blog. (Not really a problem until things go south on you.) Without a working back up copy on your computer to upload should things not work out as planned you will have to reinstall WordPress (possibly opening a whole new can of worms because you weren’t using the latest version of WordPress due to your favourite plugin(s) or theme not being compatible).

With your own copy of the blog in working order on your computer you can put the file(s) you just played with and broke back the way they were.

WordPress Auto Install is Equally Dangerous

If you have kept your WordPress install up to date (you should by the way) there is an option to automatically update WordPress in general, automatically install plugins and themes and to update existing plugins.

What if… the update doesn’t work and breaks your blog? Now what are you going to do? You are going to have to find all the stuff you had running on the blog and reinstall it to troubleshoot what caused the problem. If the issue has broken access to your WordPress dashboard disabling a plugin isn’t going to work because you can’t get to the dashboard. (wink) With your own back up copy of your WordPress blog you can put things back the way they were via FTP then problem solve what it was that broke your blog.

Recovering from a Blog Hack

Another instance when a back up copy of your WordPress blog would be useful is when your blog gets hacked. Sometimes it can take quite a bit of time to hunt down where the blog install was hacked.

To find the actual point and time that the blog was hacked you can compare file for file, the copy on your computer with the copy on your web hosting account via your FTP software or by downloading a copy of the hacked version to a separate folder on your computer for examination later. Files not in your computer copy or the date has been changed are the ones you need to investigate why they are there and/or why the date was changed if you did not do it. You can use this information also to track down the hacker in your web hosting logs.

To get back up and running quickly after a blog hack you can reinstall it (if necessary) or upload the files as they were before the hack incident.

But… My Web Hosting Backs Up Everything

Are you sure they back up everything?

What if you just put in hours of work on your blog and the server fails or you get hacked before the web hosting company does their back up?

What if the web hosting’s latest back up is the hacked version of your blog? Not much good restoring that copy is it.

If the server has had a general failure they will put things back the way they were at their last back up and no matter how much you scream/rant they are going to get their high paying customers back up and running before your little blog.

Having your own back up of your blog will cover these problems. You can be back up and running in a jiffy with your own back up copy.

But… There are WordPress Back Up Plugins

Does the plugin back up everything? Including the database? I just searched for WordPress back up plugins and the first one in the results doesn’t back up the database. It just backs up your uploads folder, theme and plugins. What about your actual WordPress install and database?

And where exactly does it save the back up copy? It isn’t much good on your web hosting account if the problem is that the web server failed, now is it.

There is also a security risk if your chosen WordPress back up plugin backs up everything including your database then stores the copy on your web server and you do not remove it. Smart hackers can figure out where it is, download it and have all your passwords.

How exactly are you going to reinstall the back up from the plugin? Have you researched that?

Back Up WordPress

Note: If you can not do any of this then you probably have used the quick install button at your web hosting account which in turn installed their customized version of a WordPress install. You should consider moving to a self installed version of WordPress so you are in total control of the back up of your WordPress blog.

As pointed out above, there are many reasons you need to back up your WordPress blog your self. You will need:

  1. Internet access
  2. Your login information for your web hosting account and your FTP login information.
  3. FTP software
  4. A folder on your computer to FTP your file back up to.
  5. A folder on your computer to store your database back up in.

Back Up WordPress Files and Folders

First, back up all the files and folders on your web hosting account for your WordPress blog using your FTP software. This includes all the WordPress files and folders, your theme, your plugins and upload folders. It should be pretty easy to select all the items in the folder where your blog is on the web server within your FTP software. Put this back up in a separate folder from your working/tinker copy of your blog (you have one, right?) so while tinkering with your blog the “good” copy remains untouched until your next back up.

Back Up WordPress Database

Next, you need to back up the database connected to your WordPress blog. You will have to log into your web hosting account and find the MySQL database section.

Each web hosting is going to handle database back up differently so here is the basic things you need to do (refer to your web hosting documentation for specific instructions):

  1. Get to the spot in your web hosting control panel to create a back up of your database.
  2. You want to export the tables in the database.
  3. Note where the database back up is stored and it’s name.
  4. Use your FTP software to download the back up copy of the database.
  5. Remove the back up copy of the database from the web server. As noted above, leaving this back up on the web server is a security risk and useless if the whole web server goes down.
Database Back Up Resources

Here are some database back up resources for you if you can not find the instructions on your web hosting account:

Back Up Your WordPress Back Up

Through this article we have told you to back up your WordPress blog to your computer but now you also need to back up your back up. Backing up your computer should be a regular task in your computer maintenance program anyways (smiles) so just add the folders with your blog stuff in them to your computer back up.


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