How to Backup WordPress Website - Best Practices, Solutions and Plugins

How to Backup WordPress Website – Best Practices and Plugins

Your WordPress website could really use a backup, but we know that this probably sits a long way down your list of fun things to do, probably nestling just below replacing the bath plug. But the certainty of knowing that the water isn’t going to unexpectedly disappear from your bubble bath is a pretty good comparison here, because the certainty of knowing that your WordPress site is going to be protected when somebody pulls the plug on it (either accidentally or maliciously) is going to make you feel equally relaxed.

Backing up a WordPress site

The online world is not safe, everyone knows that, but not everybody acts on it. Backing up a WordPress website should be second nature to everybody, but many people put it to the back of their mind, and only think about it again when something goes wrong. If you haven’t bothered backing up your WordPress website because nothing has happened to you yet, then it’s only a matter of when and not if something goes wrong for you. Hackers never sleep, which means the chances are good that at some point further down the line your site will be compromised. When it happens, you’ll feel the same as if your house had been broken into: angry and helpless.

I hope nothing like this happens to you, but I also hope that if it does, a current backup of your WordPress site is ready and waiting to get you back on your feet again. Backing up a WordPress site is not as difficult as you might think, so please read on to learn how to protect yourself.

As a WordPress user, you’re used to the easy way that it makes website creation quick and convenient, but under that easy-to-use surface it’s a bit more complicated. There’s a MySQL database that “organizes” things like your blog posts/comments/options, and then there’s all the core/theme/plug-in files that help the site to do its thing. The reason you need to know this is so that you understand what kind of backups vendors might offer you. A ‘full’ WordPress site backup makes a copy of both your content and the system files, but many of the cheaper web hosts out there only offer partial backups, so while on the surface your website may look as though it’s back to full health, you may find some unfortunate gaps in your content when you look deeper.

So, with that in mind, what are your WordPress backup options?

Option 1: Backup WordPress Site Using Your Hosting

If you know that there will be lots of extra material on your site every day, then this option is a must to ensure that you don’t lose anything if the worst comes to the worst. Some hosting companies will backup WordPress for you automatically once a day, which is great because you can set it and forget it. But your host should also give you the option to manually save everything too, because when you change themes or when there’s a major WordPress update you can’t always be sure that everything will go according to plan.

Option 2: Backup WordPress Website Manually

If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can go the manual route. Here’s what to do:

Visit your WordPress directory and look for sub-folders like wp-content, wp-includes etc and the files used to run your WordPress website like wp-config.php, along with the theme and plugin files to the wp-content folder is where components like your plug-ins and themes live, but you’ll also find various other essential stuff there to. The wp-admin subfolder holds everything that your WordPress website admin area needs, so guard it safely! The wp-includes folder holds the actual WordPress code, so ditto there too.

Step 1: Backup Your WordPress Files Manually

How to do it using Plesk Onyx:

  • Go to File Manager inside Plesk Onyx
  • You should be able to see httpdocs directory ( home directory ) where all WordPress files can be found
  • Select all the files by clicking checkbox next to the “Name” column
  • Click “Add to archive” button and add the name of the archive. Proceed.
  • Download the archive after it has been generated.

How to do it using cPanel:

  • Go to the File Manager in cPanel and look for your public_html or Home directory
  • You should be able to see your WordPress directory.
  • Click on it and either choose Compress directly from the menu bar or using right-click to do the same.
  • Select ZIP, Tar, GZIP for your compression type.
  • Click Compress File(s) and sit back while WordPress backup folder is created.
  • Click on it (or use right-click) and select Download from the menu.

Some hosts don’t use Plesk and cPanel, so you’ll be dealing with something like ISPConfig or Webmin instead, but the process should be fairly similar. You’ll will find File Manager, and then go File Manager >WordPress directory > Compress > Download.

Backup using SFTP

Get yourself a lightweight and simple-to-use file manager like FileZilla or WinSCP. Install it and get your SFTP login credentials from your hosting account. Log in to your favourite file manager and then give it your website details: nickname, URL, unique SFTP username and password, then amend the port number to 2222.

Once you’ve done that you will see all your WordPress files. Just select them and choose “Download Selected Items.” Simple as that!

Step 2: Backup Your WordPress Database Manually

You’re now ready to back up your WordPress database. Go to your hosting panel and find phpMyAdmin, which will be under Database Tools (or perhaps somewhere else – depends on hosting panel interface ). With WP Engine, click on the Chevron icon that appears next to your installation on the main dashboard and this will bring up your phpMyAdmin.

Click on the Databases tab to list your databases. If you used third-party platforms like Softaculous or Mojo Marketplace to install WordPress, you won’t know which database you’re working with. To find out just go to your wp-config.php file, right-click on it and select ‘view.’ A window will open where you should look for this line:

define('DB_NAME', 'database_name');

You can see the database name, so you will now be able to find it in phpMyAdmin. Open it and select the tables you want to backup, and then Export. Choose your export method, and set the format to SQL.

It the Go button, to save it on your computer, and you’re done!

Note that the more frequently you post to your WordPress site, the more often you will need to create backups.

How to backup WordPress Using Plugins

Backing up a WordPress site manually might not always be feasible if you have lots of backups to make, so consider using backup plug-ins like these if you want to save yourself some time and effort:


iThemes offers this extensively featured WordPress Backup Plugin as a comprehensive solution for clients with lots of websites.


  • You can move sites (and staging sites with some of the developer plans) between domains, hosts, or servers using the migration feature.
  • A tool called ImportBuddy makes restoring your site from the backup easier.
  • Additional tools include malware, database, and server scanners.
  • You can back WordPress up to a compressed folder or to cloud facilities like Amazon, Dropbox, Google Drive.
  • WordPress backups, restorations or site migrations are achieved in just a few steps.
  • What gets backed up is up to you. It could be just the database or the whole WordPress installation.
  • You can decide on how frequently backups occur, anytime from every hour to once a month.


  • iThemes’s backup storage, Stash Live, is free. But for most of their plans, you’ll need to pay for it after year one.
  • It can be expensive to cover all your clients’ sites.


This WordPress backup plugin comes in two flavors, free and premium. So you have nothing to lose. Try the free one first, you may find that it does everything you need. It only differs from the premium version in the number of sites it covers and the type of support and updates you can get.


  • Has database optimization, repair and scanning features
  • It backs up your whole WordPress installation and can push them to your third-party storage service, directory, or FTP.
  • Quick response to customer complaints and priority support for premium service customers along with automated updates.
  • Can handle a number of sites


  • Bugs are evident here and there.
  • High price for the premium version considering what it does.


If you don’t need restoration or migration assistance, then BackUpWordPress may be ideal for you. Simple, but powerful. And if you’re not sure, you can try the limited free version and then upgrade to premium later on if it’s a good fit.


  • A year of priority support offered with premium plans.
  • You can customize backup frequency schedules to your requirements.
  • Different premium offerings mean you only pay for what you use. So if you’re a developer with just a few sites then that’s all you’ll pay for.
  • Free and premium editions available. Ideal for ‘try before you buy.’
  • Premium gives you plenty of choice about where you save your backup. File storage service, zip or even your own server.
  • Troubleshooting yourself is easier thanks to a comprehensive knowledge base on the BackUpWordPress site.


  • Customers say that the free plugin can be slow or buggy when backing up. Devs state that this can happen when customers back up at times when server resources are low. So just be mindful.
  • Restoration or migration services are not available.


Like other WordPress backup and restore plugins here, this one’s available in both paid and unpaid versions. The free one does a great job, so much so that it’s highly rated by users. But the premium version’s worth going to straight away for its advanced features:

  • Bottom of Form
  • You can extend for multisite-compatibility  using the UpdraftCentral plugin.
  • Developers can choose how the plugin handles clients’ sites, configuring backups to run without their awareness or intervention.
  • One-click backup of specific files or an entire installation. Minimum effort for maximum result.


  • The free plugin gives users the basics: backup and restore. The premium version is relatively cheap, and with that you can do migrations too.
  • Send your backups to yourself via email or to the usual third-party services.
  • The excellent migration tool automatically backs up your site prior to any core, plugin or theme updates.
    And you can use it to retrieve backed-up versions of your site if you were using another WordPress Backup Plugin with no restore capabilities.


  • Although they respond to complaints quickly, UpdraftPlus seem to cause a great deal of frustration amongst users. It would be nice to see a few more apologies and offers of assistance.


Duplicator has been downloaded over 1,000,000 times. It’s great for website cloning or migration, and that skill set also means that it knows how to back up a WordPress website.

There’s no scheduling feature, but it does place your database in an SQL file and then into a ZIP archive together with your WordPress files. It then produces a PHP file so you can now conveniently put your WordPress site backup somewhere safe. Duplicator Pro has even more features including backup scheduling, cloud storage linking, email notifications, and pro support, among others.

WordPress Backup to Dropbox

This plug-in makes backing up a WordPress website really simple. Full backups are dumped in your Dropbox account at the touch of a button. It’s as simple as it gets!

WordPress Toolkit as part of Plesk Onyx

The easiest way to do avoid the headache of choosing a WordPress backup plugin is to switch to this all-inclusive platform, backup included. You’ll enjoy the full might of the WordPress Toolkit – a single management interface that lets you simplify all management routines. Clone a WordPress site, including all website files, database and settings, without the need for any third-party plugins.


Although we’ve given you lots of great choices to think about here, it’s really up to you to make sure that you use them. Plenty of people don’t bother and many of them pay the price for not regularly backing up a WordPress site. If you need some inspiration to do that, then try a little creative visualization. Imagine that you go to your much-loved web store and find that it’s been hijacked by ransomware. The only way you can get back everything that you lost is with a backup. So, don’t delay, get your WordPress site backup today!

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Elvis Plesky
Our fun and curious team mascot's always plugged into the latest trends. He's here to share his knowledge and help you solve your tech problems.
  • Kingsley Felix

    i use vaultpress and awaiting the release of onyx backup solutions (not dropbox)

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