Your blog or a website is an asset in which you have probably spent lots of hours developing. The last thing you want is to lose it all when a WordPress software upgrade doesn’t perform the way it is supposed to, or a plugin update is not compatible, or your site gets hacked. Any of those scenarios could happen to anyone and when they do, in an instant your site can become so compromised that Google could block it, it could break and not be visible anymore, or you might not even be able to access the back end. The best protection against this is to develop a routine that allows you to always have a current or recent backup copy of your site. Let’s look at a procedure that will show you how to back up your site without plugins.
When is it important to make a copy of your site?
The frequency at which you should make backup copies varies depending on the activity on your site. If you have a static website which gets upgraded only sporadically, you probably don’t need to back it up very often. On the other hand if you run a blog and publish articles a couple of times a week, you might want to consider having a plan in place.
In any case, there are a couple of situations where you should definitively plan on creating backup copies.
- When you are about to do a software upgrade, WordPress upgrade from version x.x to x.y, etc..
- Right after you have done those upgrades
- Before you update plugins
- After you have done those updates
I am often asked, why do you suggest making a backup copy before AND after upgrades or updates?
The answer is this:
I suggest making a copy before any upgrade because your site can break during the process. If it does (and it has happened to me more than once with sites I’m managing), then I can reinstall the safe copy and have the site back online rapidly.
I also suggest making a copy right after all the plugins, extensions, or software versions have been upgraded or updated because you don’t know when you will work on your site again. In the meantime, if for any reason your site gets corrupted, you can always revert to the latest up- to-date backup copy.
Trust me, if you ever have to deal with a broken site without a backup copy, you’ll understand it is much better to spend your time making backup copies when your site is working well than having to fix it.
The different ways to back up a site and their pros and cons
For WordPress sites, there are two components that need to be saved:
- The database
- The site files
In either case, there are multiple ways in which you can back up a site. If you’d like, it is even possible to have the entire process be on autopilot with scheduled backups at regular intervals.
The big picture as far as your options is this:
- You contact your hosting company or login into your admin interface and subscribe to a backup service plan that includes daily automatic backups. They usually keep 30 days of copies.
The advantage is that you don’t have to do anything, however there is a small monthly fee and usually a fee for a restore.
- You download a plugin and manage the back up process yourself. Some of the plugins are free, however they usually involve some sort of upgrade to run on automatic with the possibility of having your backup copies emailed to you, uploaded directly to a dropbox, and more. Some of them work great, however I have found that they don’t all work on every site depending on various criteria such as your theme, the number and kind of plugins already installed, etc. They can also slow down your site in some instances.
It is best to do some research and try one. If it works, great, if it doesn’t then try another one.
- You manually back up your site from your hosting company cPanel. There is an easy way to do it and that’s the one we will look at below.
The big advantage is that you don’t need to install anything else on your site and it is easy to make backups.
5 easy steps to make a copy of your site without any plugin
- Login to your hosting company admin area and go to the cPanel
- Find the BACKUPS MANAGER
- Click on CREATE BACKUP
- Look for DOWNLOAD A HOME DIRECTORY BACKUP and click on Download
- Look for DOWNLOAD a MySQL Database Backup and click on the appropriate database for your site to download it.
That’s it, you are done!
If you ever need to restore your site, all you have to do is come back to that page on your cPanel and Upload a Home Directory Backup zip file and the appropriate database zip file.
A final word on how to back up your site without plugins
As I mentioned, backing up a site is not difficult. But what’s most important when you manage your blog or your website is to have a plan in place that include saving and preserving your hard work, whichever way you choose or decide works best for you.
Please leave a comment and share your experience.