How much time and money have you invested into your website? If you run a business, your website is a critical part of that business and you probably depend on it for generating new clients and customers. If you’re a blogger, you invest countless hours writing posts that are the backbone of your site.
With all of the time and money that you’ve invested into your site, it is extremely important that you protect yourself in case something unexpected were to happen. Getting hacked, a WordPress update gone wrong, problems caused by plugin incompatibilities, a mishap with your hosting, or even a mistake could wipe out your site completely, or render it useless.
Every website owner needs to have a contingency plan in place for backing up and restoring the website if anything tragic were to happen. Fortunately for WordPress users, there are several options that are easy and inexpensive. and we’ll take a detailed look at those options in this article.
What Needs to Be Backed Up?
When we talk about backing up a WordPress-based website, there are two different parts:
Files – A full backup will include all of the files that are used for your website, which includes your WordPress theme, plugins, as well as images and media.
Database – WordPress uses a MySQL database for all of the content in your posts, pages, and comments.
A full or complete backup involves the files as well as the database. You’ll need both in order to completely restore a site, so obviously it is important to back up everything. Some web hosts say that they back up your site, but they may only back up the database. It’s very important to understand what is being backed up, and make sure that you have a plan in place that includes a backup of all the files (you’ll find plenty of options in this article).
Backing Up with WPEngine
We’ll look at 9 of the top backup plugins for WordPress, but first I want to mention that not all web hosts (and specifically, not all hosting backups) are equal. If you’re on a cheap shared hosting account, chances are, your host’s backups will not be sufficient.
However, if you’re using a managed hosting provider like WPEngine, you’ll benefit from a much more complete backup solution. WPEngine customers get automated daily backups that include files and well as the database, and backups can be manually initiated at any time as well. So if you want to backup your site immediately before updating WordPress or making changes to your site, you can easily do that. And their backups are stored securely in the cloud with Amazon S3, so if there were some failure at WPEngine, your backups wouldn’t be lost.
Vandelay Design is hosted by WPEngine and we highly recommend them as an excellent host. These automated full backups are just one reason.
If you’re not using WPEngine, you’ll need to choose a plugin to handle the backups for you. Let’s take a look at the best options.
If you are looking for a WordPress backup solution, UpdraftPlus is a great place to start. It’s an extremely popular plugin that is being used by more than 2 million websites.
UpdraftPlus offers a free version as well as a premium version. The free version will be sufficient for most bloggers and small businesses. With the free version, you can set up automated backups, and you have control over the frequency of those backups.
You can also set the backups to automatically upload to cloud storage with Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, and others. This is important because you don’t want your backups to be stored only on your local drive. If your drive fails or is damaged (for example, in a fire), you’ll lose your backups.
The free version of UpdraftPlus will backup your files as well as the database, so it’s a full backup that will have you covered. You can also easily restore from the WordPress dashboard at any time.
The premium version costs $70 for the first year, then $42 each year going forward. Of course, the premium version will give you everything included in the free version, plus some other features like the ability to clone or migrate sites, multi-site support, and priority customer service.
VaultPress is owned by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. That connection to WordPress adds some credibility and gives some users added confidence in the product and service.
Unlike UpdraftPlus, VaultPress does not offer a free version. Originally, VaultPress was a standalone service, but it is now a part of the popular Jetpack plugin.
There are a few different plans and pricing options for VaultPress. The Personal plan is sufficient for most small businesses and bloggers. That plan costs only $39 per year and includes automated daily backups, a 30-day backup archive, protection against brute force attacks, easy migration and restores, plus priority support.
The Premium plan ($99 per year) includes everything in the Personal plan, plus daily scans for malware to help keep your site safe and secure.
BackupBuddy from iThemes has been around since 2010 with over half a million websites being served. This was the first automated backup solution that I used (and the first one that I was aware of).
There is no free plan available for BackupBuddy, and the cheapest plan is priced at $80 per year. The Freelancer and Gold plans ($127 and $199 respectively) offer the same functionality but allow you to back up more sites and provide more storage space.
Like UpdraftPlus and VaultPress, BackupBuddy is a full backup solution that includes your files as well as the database. You can easily restore your entire site from a backup if needed.
BackupBuddy is also extremely useful for moving your website, which could involve a change in domain name or a move from one host to another. If you’ve ever tried to manually move a WordPress-based website from one web host to another, you know that it’s not a lot of fun. But BackupBuddy makes the move quick and easy.
BlogVault is another excellent choice for a complete backup solution, including a backup of all your files and the database.
BlogVault offers many different plans with the entry-level plan starting at $7.40 per month. That plan will allow you to backup one site with a 90-day archive of backups. It also supports multi-site.
Higher-priced plans include additional features like WooCommerce backup, as well as malware scan and removal.
One of the nice features of BlogVault is their staging area. You can restore a backup to the staging area at any time, which means you can easily test your backups to be assured that everything is good.
WP Time Capsule works a little bit differently from most of the other plugins covered here. Instead of running a daily backup of the entire site, WP Time Capsule will backup whenever you make a change. It backs up in real time, rather than waiting until the daily backup is scheduled, and it only backs up the changes. By only backing up the changes as opposed to running a full backup every day, WP Time Capsule saves storage space.
You’ll also have a staging area where you can test backups before restoring them to the live site. All backups can be sent to the cloud storage of your choice (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3.
Pricing starts at $49 per year, which gives you access to everything mentioned above, and you can backup 2 websites. On that plan you’ll also have 30 days worth of backup. Higher-priced plans allow you to back up more sites and have up to 365 days of backups.
BoldGrid offers a few different plugins, including BoldGrid Backup. Their plugins are available in a free version as well as a premium version. The premium version starts at $60 per year, which includes access to multiple plugins.
The free Community version of Boldgrid Backup will allow you to set up automated backups and easily migrate sites. The premium version will allow you to store your backups with Google Drive or Amazon S3. With the premium version, you’ll also get access to update history and recently modified files.
Duplicator Pro is a backup plugin, but its features are geared a little more towards site migration and duplication. Like several other options covered here, Duplicator Pro makes it easy to move your entire site to a new domain name or new web host.
If you manage and set up a lot of WordPress-based websites, Duplicator Pro may be able to save you a lot of time. You can create pre-configured sites that have the same themes and plugins installed, instead of manually configuring them with each new site.
There is a free version of the plugin that allows you to backup and migrate sites, but the features on the free version are pretty limited. You’re not able to set up automated backups with the free version.
The paid versions of the plugin allow for automated backups, integration with cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3) for storing your backups, multi-site support, and more. Paid plans start at $59 per year.
BackWPup is another option that offers both free and premium versions. Both versions offer complete backups (files and database), multi-site support, backup to Dropbox, and backup to Amazon S3. The Pro version also offers backup to Google Drive, scheduled backups, system tests, and premium support.
The premium version costs $69 for the first year and $39 for subsequent years. Higher-priced plans allow you to use the plugin on more websites.
WP Database Backup is a free plugin with no premium version available. It is the only plugin listed on this page that focuses exclusively on the WordPress database and does not involve backups of your files outside of the database.
You can easily schedule automatic backups and send your backups to Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon S3. You can also easily restore your backups.
While this plugin is limited to just your database, it is completely free and easy to use.
All of these backup options have some great features. Honestly, it’s not so important which one you choose. What is more important is simply having a sufficient backup solution in place and checking periodically to make sure that it is working as it should.
If you’re looking for a free option, UpdraftPlus is pretty tough to beat. If you are willing to spend a little bit of money on a solution, UpdraftPlus, VaultPress, BackupBuddy, and BlogVault are all on a similar level. The others are good too, but my top recommendations would be the ones ranked highest in this article.
And, of course, another option is to host your site with WPEngine and get all of the backup and restore features and functionality that they offer to their customers.
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