How To Back Up Your WordPress Blog For Free

So you’ve set up a WordPress blog, and you’re investing in creating killer content. In terms of attracting traffic and building authority, you’re doing everything right.

But are you protecting your investment with backups? WordPress is robust, but a determined hacker can bring an out of date installation down in seconds. It’s a pretty scary thought.

WordPress is the most commonly used content management system on the web, with more than 20 per cent of websites being built using WordPress as of October 2013. However, few hosting providers take regular backups, and those that do rarely allow customers to access them without paying a fee.

When it comes to backing up, you’ll have to make your own arrangements. Thankfully, you can back everything up for free.

Method 1: WordPress Backups via Email or FTP

There are plenty of WordPress backup plugins that will take a basic, usable snapshot of your site at a pre-set interval, including both the database and the files. Examples include WP Complete Backup, an easy to use plugin that you can download directly from the WordPress plugin repository.

There is one caveat, though. Plugins like this create a backup file that can be stored on your own server, sent to an email address or transmitted via FTP. FTP is by far the best option, but you’ll need access to another server with adequate space.

If you don’t have a second server to back up to, your site and backup files could be stored in the same place as your site. That’s better than nothing, but it’s not really a failsafe backup solution. If there’s a serious disk error at your host, for example, you’re going to have issues accessing both sets of files. (That’s exactly what happened to my company website a couple of months ago.)

And while email backups are fine, your site’s eventually going to be far too big for email backups; the messages will just bounce.

Let’s look at the second option.

Backing Up WordPress to the Cloud

The second main option for WordPress backup is to use the cloud to store the backup files. If you’re familiar with cloud storage, you’ll probably already see the benefits, but let’s run through the process: it’s easier than you think.

WordPress backups can be created using a plugin, then saved to a range of cloud storage providers; different plugins support different sites. For a straightforward Dropbox backup plugin, try WordPress Backup to Dropbox. Also, look at BackWPUp; it supports Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, SugarSync and more.

The danger of WordPress cloud backup is the fallibility of your cloud provider; if they go bust, or go down, your backups disappear (temporarily or permanently). However, consider the huge advantages of storing your WordPress backups in the cloud:

  • Small blogs can be backed up to free cloud storage accounts. Given that the plugins are also free, there’s basically no upfront cost for a small-scale blogger.
  • Backups are accessible everywhere. The nature of the cloud means you could download a critical backup file from practically any device in any location.
  • Backups could be shared with colleagues. If the site goes down, more than one person has the data they need to bring it back online.
  • It’s really easy to check if the backup has worked. Just look at the timestamp.
  • Some plugins offer incremental backups. That helps you to save space in your cloud backup account.
  • Some WordPress cloud backup plugins also support FTP and email backups, so you’ve nothing to lose by using them.

FTP vs the Cloud

So which backup method is our preferred solution?

FTP backups are perfectly usable, and if you prefer a more traditional solution (and have the server space to spare), FTP backup could be ideal. You may sacrifice convenience, but FTP is speedy and reliable.

But don’t write off the convenience of cloud storage for your WordPress backups. The cloud storage industry is fiercely competitive; prices are dropping all the time, and free space is abundant. The plugins we’ve mentioned are all extremely well put together, and they all produce excellent, complete backups while giving you a range of customisation options for your files.

If you’re not backing up your blog yet, we recommend hooking up a free cloud storage account to a WordPress backup plugin for convenience, affordability and total peace of mind. If you have a WordPress blog, you’ve no reason not to.

Claire Broadley is a technical writer working with Click here to see our favourite online backup services.

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