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

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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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