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How To Backup WordPress & Why Multi-tier Backups Are Better For Your Business

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It is important to consider a Multi-tier backup strategy that ensures further security of your precious data -- Ibad Rehman

WordPress backups serve multiple purposes and are essential for your online business. Whether you are running a small blog or a large WooCommerce site, multi-tier backup strategy can save you from hours of work and potential financial losses.

Backing up your business website is one of the core parts of your security. Backups play an important role in securing valuable data as well as running business operations smoothly. There are ever growing cyber threats that are getting more complex and pose a potential risk against the integrity of your online business. Thus, having a robust and well-planned backup strategy is no longer an option but rather a must-have that every serious business owner should invest in.

Just like any other web technology, WordPress is also prone to these cyber attacks. Besides, having a fool-proof WordPress security system in place, you also need a WordPress backup plan to better prepare yourself against unforeseen events. In this article, we will answer the question “How to Backup WordPress websites” and how at Convesio we provide Multie-Tier backups to our customers.

Why Are WordPress Backups Important?

Backing up a WordPress website serves two primary functions, firstly it serves as a backup policy in case you lose your data due to a cyberattack, and secondly, it helps you recover the functional version of your site in case you break it after modifying the code or installing a faulty theme.

The frequency at which you take WordPress backups is also important. Even today, a large number of WordPress users do not take backups for months. This destroys the whole purpose of taking backups as a site version you had a month ago is most likely irrelevant for today. Another aspect to consider is what things to backup. The short answer is — everything including the database, web files, and assets.

Types of Backups

Let’s look at the common types of backups.

Local Backups

These backups are stored on your computer locally. Later in this article, we will see how to take backups using SFTP which allows you to download the copy of your backup locally on your computer. Local backups are secure but can only be accessed from that machine and are geared more towards single-user usage.

Remote Backups

The majority of the WordPress backup plugins allow you to back up your WordPress and database files to store at a remote location like Amazon S3, Google Drive, or Dropbox. These are cloud backups that are accessible from anywhere in the world and multiple team members can use this feature.

On-site Backups

In the context of web hosting, on-site backups are referred to as the backups created on the same server. They are similar to local backups but are located inside the same server as your website. On-site backups are effective and are easily restored but they are at a higher risk in case your entire server gets compromised.

Off-site Backups

Unlike on-site backups, off-site backups are created at a totally remote location. Similar to cloud backups, off-site backups are much more accessible. They are also secure but restoring data from offsite backups is comparatively slower than on-site backups.

Let’s look at some of the popular ways of taking WordPress backups.

How to Take WordPress Backups?

There are two popular ways of taking WordPress backups, a manual approach using Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and a WordPress plugin. The latter is much more straightforward and is handy especially when you do not have the privileges to access your site via SFTP.

WordPress Backup Using SFTP Manually

In this method, you connect to your web hosting server via SFTP using a tool like FileZilla that allows you to backup WordPress files. For the database, you need access to either PHPMyAdmin or a similar interface your hosting provider offers.

Step 1: Connect to your server

‘The first thing you need to access your server via SFTP is your credentials.

  • SFTP hostname
  • Username
  • Password
  • Port

If you are a Convesio customer then you can locate the above information easily from the platform screen. Go to Site Dashboard → Settings → SFTP Access.

Screenshot of Convesio's dashboard showing SFTP access

Now, open the preferred FTP tool. For this tutorial, I will be using FileZilla. Paste the above credentials and create a connection.

Screenshot of Filezilla showing the WordPress directory open

Once the connection is created successfully, you will notice the WordPress directory inside the Remote site pane.

Step 2: Locate WordPress Files & Download

The next step is to identify the files we need to back up at this stage. Typically you need to backup:

  • wp-content folder (themes, media, and plugins)
  • WordPress configuration files (wp-config, .htaccess file)

You can either create a new directory inside the root folder and save a copy of the above files there or you can simply download them and save it locally on your computer. The latter is recommended as creating a copy inside the same directory will have no use if your server is compromised.

To download the folder or a file, right-click on the folder and click on Download.

Screenshot of Filezilla showing a folder being downloaded

This will download the copy locally on your computer. Do the same for WordPress configuration files. You might wonder why not download the whole WordPress folder? Well, you can and in some cases, you should at least once a month. However, downloading the entire directory on a daily basis is not ideal as it can put a strain on your server resources.

Step 3: Backup WordPress Database

Finally, download the WordPress database. To do so you either need access to phpMyAdmin or a similar option. Some web hosts offer their own database management portal while others allow access to phpMyAdmin.

At Convesio, customers can access their WordPress database using phpMyAdmin located inside their platform. Go to Site Dashboard → Settings → Database Settings

Screenshot of the Convesio dashboard where you can access phpMyAdmin

Inside phpMyAdmin, you will notice the list of all tables of your WordPress site. Navigate to the Export option located at the top bar, and click on the “Go” button.

Screenshot of phpMyAdmin showing how to export a database

This will immediately download the complete database in .sql format locally on your computer. Keep it safe inside a folder with the WordPress files you just downloaded. At this point, you can also upload the local folder to a cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box Drive for convenient remote access.

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About The Author
Ibad Rehman

Ibad Rehman

Community Manager at Convesio. Enthusiast about the web, AI, and Digital Marketing. Technical content creator, JavaScript advocate, educator, and lifelong learner.
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Best WordPress Backup Plugins

There are tons of WordPress plugins available that can backup your entire WordPress site with a click of a few buttons. These plugins are easy to use and offer many features that allow you to configure backup options.

Some of the popular WordPress backup plugins:

  • Updraft Plus: The plugin has over 3 million downloads. It comes with both free and premium versions. While the free version is sufficient for a decent backup job, the premium version is packed with features like incremental backups, remote location, migration, etc.
  • BackupBuddy: Another very popular backup plugin developed by iThemes. It is easy to use and also comes with tons of useful features like automatic backups, off-site backups, and more. Their premium version starts from $80/year which includes a single site.
  • WP Time Capsule: Besides offering the competitive features set, WP Time Capsule is efficient and lightweight. It allows you to take selected backups of recent files as well as store them on remote locations like Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Google Drive. The basic version is free while the premium version starts from $49/month.
  • BlogVault: BlogVault is more than a plugin. It is a platform that allows you to manage backups from multiple WordPress sites as well as monitor their uptime and scheduled backups, etc. It also supports off-site backups. Their starter package starts from $7.4/month.
  • Duplicator: Duplicator has over 1 million active installations. The plugin is easy to use and comes with a free and paid version. The free version allows you to migrate, backup full and partial sites, and duplicate your live site to the staging area. Duplicator Pro offers further options like scheduled backups, cloud backups, and technical support.

Let’s use the free version of the WP Time Capsule plugin to take a backup of a WordPress site.

The plugin is available to download from the repository. I have already downloaded and installed it.

In order to use the plugin, you need to create an account first.

Screenshot of the account creation page of WP Time Capsule

After logging in, select the desired cloud storage app for your backup.

Screenshot of WP Time Capsule's page where you select storage

I selected and connected Google Drive. You can, however, pick other options like Amazon S3, Dropbox, Wasabi, and Backblaze.

After connecting it with my Google Drive, the plugin gave me the option to configure the backup schedule and timezone along with some advanced options such as data encryption, including or excluding files and database tables, file formats, etc.

Screenshot of the WP Time Capsule page where the initial set up is defined

After this screen, the plugin first starts calculating the sizes of both the files and the database and then start uploading it to a remote location which in my case is Google Drive.

Screenshot of WP Time Capsule's page when the first backup is taken

The initial backup takes longer than the subsequent backups. Once the files and database are uploaded, the success email is sent.

Single-tier vs Multi-tier Backup

A majority of web hosting providers offer only single-tier backups that basically store the backup of your WordPress site in the same place as your site. A possible advantage of this could be a small cost-cut and faster recovery as both your site and backup reside inside the same environment. The downside of a Single-tier strategy is that it creates a single point of failure and if that particular machine is compromised, chances are the backup is also compromised.

On the other hand, the Multi-tier strategy stores the backup of your site to another machine/server. This could be any cloud object storage like Amazon S3, DigitalOcean Spaces, or Google Cloud Storage. Infrastructure as such is built to provide top security and availability for your data. Your backup is much safer this way as it does not share the same environment as your website.

How Convesio Manages Backups

Convesio managed WordPress hosting is built to offer scalability to businesses that are looking to grow but do not want to compromise on performance and convenience. Our unique solution is powered by container-based architecture that efficiently and sophisticatedly solves challenges including site backups. All our plans support a Multi-tier backup strategy.

We understand how significant the website data is for businesses, therefore, all Convesio customers get automated and scheduled backups. These backups are taken frequently to ensure your data is secured and recovered to the latest version when needed. Our customers can also create staging sites using their backups.

Similarly, all our plans also offer the option of taking off-site backups at a very affordable price of $10 per 10GB. These off-site backups are stored at a secure remote location. It is a great feature that businesses use alongside their regular automated backups to keep another copy of their web files and database at someplace secure.

To manage WordPress backups, go to your Convesio dashboard → Site Dashboard → Backups.

Screenshot of the Convesio dashboard

Inside Backups, there are two windows. The left window displays the list of all available backups known as snapshots and the right window displays the preview of that snapshot along with other details such as WordPress and database versions, number of posts, comments, and file sizes. There is also an option for restoring the snapshot that simply restores the version of the backup you are previewing.

Screenshot of Convesio's dashboard's backup configuration screen

There are also Configuration Backups and Create Snapshot options on the bottom of the left window. Let’s look at them one by one.

Configuration Backups: This is an important tool that allows you to enable or disable automatic backups and create policies for the backup intervals and retention time.

Screenshot of Convesio's dashboard's backup configuration screen

The next option is for configuring the preview of the screenshot that is created every time the backup is created. Here, you can define the pages for which you wish to add the screenshots besides the homepage.

Screenshot of Convesio's dashboard's preview screen settings

The third option is for managing tags. This allows you to create your own tags to better identify the snapshots and search them easily.

Screenshot of Convesio's dashboar's snapshot tag manager feature

Managing backups and restoring them is only a matter of a few clicks. With the advanced options, you can control the frequency and retention of your WordPress site backup.

Final Thoughts

WordPress site backup is as important for your online business as its security, performance, or marketing efforts. Although plugins do a decent job in backing up your WordPress site both locally and remotely, it is also important to consider a Multi-tier backup strategy that ensures further security of your precious data.

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About The Author
Ibad Rehman

Ibad Rehman

Community Manager at Convesio. Enthusiast about the web, AI, and Digital Marketing. Technical content creator, JavaScript advocate, educator, and lifelong learner.
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