Imagine waking up and finding that your WordPress website is gone. Maybe it got hacked, or your hosting provider simply decided to cancel your account.
Now imagine not having a way to bring back your website.
This happens when you take your chances and don’t back up your WordPress website. WordPress users don’t back up their website either because they are unsure how to do it or simply because it is not on their priority list.
- Myth #1: WordPress Automatically Backs up Websites
- Myth #2: I Only Need To Backup the Database
- Myth #3: My Web Host Backs up the Website for Me
- Myth #4: I'll Never Need To Use the Website Backup
- Myth #5: I Am an Expert; I'll Never Break My Website
- Myth #6: Who Would Bother to Hack My Website?
- Myth #7: I Backed Up My Website Last Month, Isn't That Enough?
- Myth #8: Backing Up WordPress Websites Is Too Much Work
- Myth #9: I Have the Backup on My Local Server
- Myth #10: Backups Are for Huge Disasters Only
- How To Pick the Right WordPress Backup Solution
- Recommended WordPress Backup Plugins
- That's a Wrap!
In the last couple of years, backing up your website has become incredibly easy.
You simply install a backup plugin, set a few options, and then let the plugin take care of everything. But, even for this simple process, you’ll be surprised to find out how much misinformation still floats around backing up your WordPress website.
Here are 10 of the most common myths about WordPress backup.
Myth #1: WordPress Automatically Backs up Websites
You often hear this from users who switch to WordPress from website builders such as Wix. These platforms often have an automatic backup process, and the users generally don’t have to back up their websites.
This habit often carries over when they switch over to WordPress.
WordPress is a content management system with no backup capability built into its core. That’s why when you first install WordPress on your server, you don’t find any website backup option in the dashboard. However, an Export option allows you to save all your post pages and comments in a downloadable WXR file.
Note that this process is not automatic:
- You need to go to WordPress Admin Menu >> Tools >> Export.
- Choose what you want to include in the download file.
- Click Download Export File.
I do not recommend backing up your WordPress website this way. It takes too much effort to restore your WordPress website through WXR files, and even then, you might miss out on a lot of important stuff.
Myth #2: I Only Need To Backup the Database
And then we have WordPress users who think backing up the core WordPress database is enough to bring their website back from the dead.
The WordPress database merely has all the words on your website. This means when you save a copy of the database, you’re essentially saving all the text that appears on your website.
Now, when your website is down, you need more than just words to bring it back to its former glory. You need all the images and styling elements provided by the active theme on the website. Unfortunately, these visual elements are often not stored in the database. Similarly, many plugins do not use the core WordPress database to store settings and options.
As you can imagine, you need a full website backup that covers posts, pages, media library, plugin files, and core WordPress files.
Myth #3: My Web Host Backs up the Website for Me
Almost every WordPress hosting provider offers some sort of backup functionality. The problem is that you are usually not in control of the process. In some cases, the service provider does ask you where you would like to store the backup, but many usually store it in a “secure external location.”
You have little control over the restore process when you really need it.
As a website owner, backup by the web host should be your last resort. For one thing, you might need to go through their support to restore your website (which can take anywhere from several hours to a couple of days).
Website backup and restore is a mission-critical process, and you shouldn’t leave it in the hands of your web hosting provider.
As a rule, you should always have a recent website backup at hand so that you don’t have to wait for anyone to bring back your website online.
Myth #4: I’ll Never Need To Use the Website Backup
Website backups are like vehicle insurance. You hope you’ll never have to use it, but you get it anyway. The same applies to backing up your WordPress website.
In many cases, hackers don’t target individual websites. Instead, they target the hosting servers and bring down several websites in one go. In case of an attack, your website can go down even when you follow all the best WordPress security practices.
People believe bad things won’t happen to them, but you must be prepared for the disaster. You might go for years without ever using that backup archive. However, when you DO need it, you’ll be glad you have a recent website backup that allows you to bring your business website back online in a couple of hours.
Remember the Scout’s motto: Be Prepared!
Myth #5: I Am an Expert; I’ll Never Break My Website
I get it.
You are a WordPress greybeard who runs a tight ship. Everything is secure and updated. And that’s why your website will not ever crash.
Even when you eliminate human error from the equation, your WordPress website can still crash because of that new plugin you activated on the website or that code snippet you added to the functions.php file. New threats emerge frequently, and updating your website security is often postponed until the weekend.
That’s why all good WordPress tutorials start with this warning: Please back up your website before attempting anything.
In the rare case when things go wrong, you will be glad you heeded the warning.
Myth #6: Who Would Bother to Hack My Website?
Many WordPress users think hackers target big businesses because that’s where all the good loot is. And, in a small way, they are correct.
The problem is that most hacking attempts these days are carried out by bots and automated programs that scan websites for common security lapses. These programs don’t care about the size of the business behind the website. To them, all websites look and feel the same. If you need proof, check your server logs for 404 errors and failed login attempts.
Human hackers often prefer small websites because these websites are not as well protected as big business websites. Since a shared hosting server might contain several websites, hackers often attack them to access all the websites on the server. Your small business website simply gets caught in the crossfire.
Backing up your website frequently is the best protection you have against this seemingly continuous attack on your website and hosting server.
Myth #7: I Backed Up My Website Last Month, Isn’t That Enough?
Yes and no. It all depends on how many changes you made since you backed up your website. And, what is the frequency you update content on your website?
Consider an eCommerce store. Chances are that you regularly upload new products or product variants. If you backed up your website last month, the changes you made since then are at risk.
If you use this month-old archive to restore your website, you’ll find a pretty old version that isn’t of much use. You’ll then have to spend a couple of hours getting things back to where they were before the incident.
As a general rule, you should back up your website weekly if you make changes frequently throughout the week. This is particularly true for eCommerce stores and blogs that see a lot of inventory changes and updates.
Myth #8: Backing Up WordPress Websites Is Too Much Work
If you are backing up your website manually, it IS.
You are taking care of every detail, ensuring nothing goes wrong and that no folder is left out.
WordPress has made it incredibly easy to back up your website. All you need to do is install a plugin and then let it handle all the complexities of the process. You can also set the frequency at which you want to back up the website and how many archives you wish to retain. Once everything is in place, the plugin takes over, and you really don’t have to worry about backing up the website.
The best thing about the entire process is that you don’t have to pay to use a backup plugin. The free plugins do an admirable job and allow you to back up the archive to Google Drive, email, or a third-party data storage service.
Myth #9: I Have the Backup on My Local Server
This is perhaps the most astounding of the ten myths. People back up their website and store the archive on the same server that hosts their website. This defeats the whole point because you lose both your website and the backup archive when the server goes down.
It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping nobody kicks it.
You need to store the backup archive at a separate location to make sure it is available when you need it. Experts call it data redundancy. Ideally, you should store the archive at two locations, one of which should be a cloud-based option.
These days cloud storage has become mainstream and is pretty cost-effective. It could be as simple as having a separate Google account for the backup archive or making it fancy by opting for customized cloud-based data storage solutions.
Myth #10: Backups Are for Huge Disasters Only
Backups are a godsend when things go catastrophically wrong. However, you need to back up your website even when attempting little changes, such as installing a new plugin or adding custom CSS effects to your theme.
If you maintain a WordPress website, you know that small changes can have massive unintended consequences. Developers often need to restore a website when the code doesn’t work as intended. In such cases, rather than installing WordPress every time, they simply use the backup archive to bring the website back to the original configuration.
How To Pick the Right WordPress Backup Solution
As I mentioned earlier, you can use a couple of plugins to back up your WordPress website. So now, how can you pick a solution that works for you?
The best solution offers three functionalities.
Speed of the Website Restore
In practical terms, this is the length of time required to restore your website from the latest backup archive you have from the backup process. Fortunately, all top-of-the-line WordPress backup plugins allow you to restore your website in a single click. You just need to select a date or an archive, and the plugin takes care of the process.
Pick and Choose the Files to Restore
Next is the ability to pick individual files out of the archive. In most cases restoring your website from an archive is a take-it-or-leave-it situation. During the restore process, the plugin replaces your existing website data with the data in the archive.
However, there are situations where you need to replace just one or two files out of the hundreds in the backup archive. This is the real test of the flexibility of the backup solution. If you think you need this functionality, you need to check the documentation or get in touch with the developers.
The Plugin Should Pull Double Duty
Finally, the plugin should help you clone your website, migrate it to a new host, or simply help you quickly set up a staging environment.
A good way to choose a backup solution is to list what you want the plugin to do. Next, shortlist a couple of plugins and carefully go through the documentation to see which offers the best fit for your requirements.
You also need to consider the impact of the plugin on the website and server performance. Another important consideration is what files the plugin includes in the backup archive. At the minimum, you need to ensure that the archive contains all contents of the WordPress database.
The best WordPress backup plugins offer a full site backup archive, including website content, plugins, themes, and any additional content and folders you have on the server. A good rule of thumb is to back up the entire website every time you change the imported website files, such as functions.php.
Recommended WordPress Backup Plugins
Backing up WordPress websites is such an important activity that you’ll find several great options. The good thing about these options is that the core backup and restore processes are mostly free. This means you can use any of the following plugins to protect your website content.
That’s a Wrap!
I presented the ten common myths about WordPress backup. As you saw, these myths might keep you from backing up your website and leave you dangling when disaster strikes.
I think you now have enough clarity to consider a WordPress plugin to take frequent backups of your website.