WordPress continues to grow in popularity with each passing year with close to 75,000,000 WP websites currently online worldwide. You can’t deny the many advantages WordPress provides including easy setup, a built in updating system and countless SEO friendly features. Sometime it’s hard to figure out why anyone wouldn’t use a WordPress website for their business…..that is…..until something goes wrong.
Whether your website stops working properly due to the latest version update or a plugin that doesn’t agree with your chosen theme WordPress sites can be glitchy even in the best of times. Worse still once one of these errors occur (even for more experienced web developers) troubleshooting the problem can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
It’s always wise to backup your WordPress frequently to make sure any of your recent work isn’t lost or worst case scenario you receive the white screen of death and your website stops working entirely. Backing up your website can feel a little bit more complicated than it should be but once you get the hang of things it’s a simple couple minute process.
There are two main steps required in order to fully back up your WordPress website. The first is backing up your WordPress database which can be done in your website admin panel with the help of a simple plugin. The second is backing up your WordPress files which can be done through a free FTP program.
Step 1: Backing Up Your WordPress website database
In order to backup your website database you will first need to download a plugin that can be accessed through your WordPress admin panel. Go to the plugins menu and click the “Add New” button and do a search for a plugin called WP-DB-Backup. Once found click the “Install Now” button for the installation process to begin.
(***please note there are several other WordPress plugins that perform the same function but we will be using wp-db-backup for the purpose of this tutorial***)
Once the plugin has been downloaded successfully you want to click on the blue “Activate Plugin” link that will appear directly below.
Upon activation the plugin will be not be visible in your main menu but instead will be added as an additional tab in your “Tools” options. Click on the tools button and then select “Backup” which will be found at the bottom of the menu.
Once selected you will be taken to the WP-DB-Backup page which will give you a variety of options on how you want to save your files. Although you are welcome to play around with the various settings you are fine everything on the default settings.
Scroll down to the “Backup Options” section of the page. Your will be given the option to either download your saved files directly to your computer or have a backup copy sent to your email address.
For the purpose of this tutorial you will select “Download to your computer” where we will store the database files in a separate folder along with your WordPress files later in step number two. Click the “Backup Now!” button to begin the process…
(***Note: Also be aware the WP-Backup-Options page also gives you the option to perform a “Scheduled Backup” where you can have your files backed up automatically in set intervals. If you are someone who is a bit forgetful feel free to give this option a try as well.***)
Once you’ve clicked the backup now button the files will begin to save in the Progress Page. Be sure to wait until your files have been fully downloaded or the process will not work. Once completed you will be given the option to save your files to the destination of your choice.
Create a folder somewhere on your computer and name it something you will remember. Copy your downloaded files into the folder which should look like the following below. The database files are saved as a .sql extension which is standard database format. Do not change the name or file extension of the files.
Congratulations you are 50% done backing up your WordPress website, onto step number two….
Step 2: Backing Up Your WordPress Content Files
While you were able to backup your WordPress database directly though your admin panel backing up your actual files will require the help of an FTP to access your web hosting server directly. Although there are several FTP options to choose from we will be using Filezilla which is free to use even for professional business purposes. Once Smart FTP has been opened (or whatever other option you have selected; Smart FTP, Cute FTP ect.) enter your hosting details would should be the same password date used to access your admin panel.
Once you have logged in successfully look for your public_html folder then find the folder that says wp-content.
Download this folder only into your backup files folder do not touch the wp-admin or wp-include folder. You should now have two files saved into your backup folder as shown below.
Once you have both your database and WordPress content files in your folder your job is done and you have successfully backed up your WordPress website. Be sure to store your backup folder in a safe place and that you can easily find on your computer.
There you have it…..your WordPress website is now safe from any future problems. It’s a good idea to backup your website at least once a week or even more than that if you’ve added any recent content you don’t want to risk losing. For the average WordPress website expect to have to restore your files at least once or twice during it’s full life cycle.