Backup WordPress Before You Update

Before updating your WordPress website, make sure to create a full backup. These tools can help make sure you're ready in case of unexpected trouble.

A few minutes ago, WordPress 4.9 hit the scene. Like all major releases of WordPress, this version brings a ton of new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. It also brings new issues with themes and plugins that are not ready for this version.

When software like WordPress is updated, it introduces new code and sometimes alters or drops existing code. This is done to improve the product. Unfortunately, this can also cause issues for extensions to that software, like the WordPress plugins and themes.

If the developer of a plugin or theme doesn’t make sure their software is ready for the update, they run the risk of their software breaking, either just itself or the whole site. This is why it’s important to always backup your website before updating.

Some web hosting companies provide access to backups created by their server software. For instance, A2 Hosting gives customers a tool called Server Rewind, a backup option that makes it easy to roll back your files or database. Features like this are great to have but it’s always a good idea to make sure you have an additional offsite backup when possible.

Tools to Backup WordPress

There are a number of ways to backup your WordPress website. Some only create local backups while others provide a way to backup your files to a remote location. We recommend backing up to a remote location because it helps protect your site in the event of a server failure. After all, if you backup your site to the same server your site is hosted on and that server dies, your backup goes with it.

Before we go over the backup options, it’s worth noting that most backup plugins are going to be resource intensive. That means that when your site is being backed up, your hosting account is going to be using a lot of server resources to create the backup, most notably I/O and CPU. This is expected behavior because of what the plugins are doing.

When a backup plugin creates a backup, it has to collect a list of the files it intends to backup. It then has to zip those files up into a file that only increases in size as files are added to it. Some plugins do this in batches that allow the server to breathe in between rounds, though when they are working to create the backup you can see your resource usage begin to climb.

There are a few backup options we recommend. Let’s check them out below.

VaultPress

VaultPress

VaultPress is a premium service provided by the developers of WordPress itself. It offers the option for daily or real-time automated backups of your files and database. The backups are kept offsite. Again, this is important because it stores your backups in a remote location, avoiding further catastrophe if there is a hardware failure on your website’s server.

After selecting a service plan, VaultPress provides an activation key that you enter into a field in your WordPress dashboard. This validates your service with VaultPress and starts the backup process.

To restore your website from a backup, VaultPress requires access via either FTP, SFTP, or SSH. These settings are specific to your server and hosting account, so you may need to consult your web host for this information. Once you have these details, enter them into the Settings section of your account at VaultPress.com to allow the system to connect.

The cost of VaultPress is very low and comes with additional features for each subscription level (such as Akismet and built-in malware scanning).

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus

For those looking for a free plugin to backup your WordPress website, UpdraftPlus should be on your radar. This plugin provides both local and remote backups of your files and database.

Setting up UpdraftPlus can be a bit more complicated than VaultPress, but this is primarily due to the additional options it provides. However, right after activation, it is ready for manual backups. To schedule backups, you will need to change two settings under the Settings tab: Files backup schedule and Database backup schedule.

Tip: Make sure the database backup schedule is equal to or more frequent than the files backup schedule. Pretty much all data entered via the keyboard — such as posts, pages, comments, and product orders — is stored in the database. This information is very important so you need to have it backed up frequently enough to make sure you have an up to date copy.

UpdraftPlus comes in two flavors: free and premium. Both versions provide the ability to backup your site to a remote location, but these locations are dependant on which version you are using. The free version allows backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, FTP and more. For a full feature list, check out the Updraft Feature List page here.

Always backup your website

It is very important to backup your website. Both UpdraftPlus and VaultPress have worked well for us and many of the people we work with. Others prefer to use a different plugin, such as Backup Buddy or BackWPUp. No matter what your choice, always make sure to backup your website, especially before making major changes like updates.

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