Backup your WordPress site with UpdraftPlus – Secure your website against hacks and data loss

by | Sep 8, 2021 | WordPress

There’s one thing you can do with your website right now that will improve your peace of mind. Let’s make sure you have automated backups of your website in place. This way, if anything goes wrong with your website in the future, you’ve protected your most important asset and made sure that you have backups available to restore your website.

Backup your WordPress website

A regular backup schedule is the first line of defence when considering the security of any WordPress website. However, a backup is no good if it is not stored securely and cannot easily be restored in times of trouble. In this article we’re going to run through how you can easily backup and restore your WordPress website using the free plugin, UpdraftPlus.

Note: The free version of UpdraftPlus is fully functional. Paid versions are available that provide additional features, add-ons, better support, etc. It’s important to support the developers of great plugins like UpdraftPlus. If you find the plugin useful and can afford to purchase a paid version, we encourage you to do so.


Backup WordPress site with UpdraftPlus

 UpdraftPlus is one of the world’s highest ranking and most popular scheduled backup plugins, with over three million currently-active installs.

It allows you to backup your files and database directly to a cloud storage provider such as DropBox, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3, etc. and restore with a single click!

The internet is a hostile place for websites and WordPress websites are no exception. All websites are vulnerable to data loss and security threats. Common scenarios resulting in data loss might be:

  • Your website is hacked and hackers either destroy your data or hold your data to ransom.
  • Your hosting provider is subject to some kind of attack or outage resulting in loss of your data.
  • Your web host reserves the right to terminate your account and delete all data.

The best way to protect against these and the many other situations that can result in data loss is to make regular backups of your WordPress website and database.

There are many WordPress plugins available that will allow you to automatically backup and restore WordPress sites. In this article we are going to look at one of the most popular and highly rated. Read on and learn how easy it is to backup your WordPress website with UpdraftPlus.

Install the plugin

From your WordPress Admin Dashboard, select the “Plugins” option from the left side menu. On the plugins page, click the “Add New” button at the top of the page.

Find the UpdraftPlus plugin image

Type “UpdraftPlus” into the box next to Keyword. The plugin will appear. Click on the “Install Now” button for the plugin to install it. Once the plugin is installed, click on “Activate“.

The plugin will now appear in your plugins list.

UpdraftPlus plugin installed image

To configure UpdraftPlus, click on the “Settings” link under the plugin name. On the UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore page, select the “Settings” tab.

UpdraftPlus settings tab top of page image.

It’s important to remember that your WordPress website consists of both discrete files and various database tables. So, it is important to ensure that both of these are backed up regularly.

The first thing that you can do here is set the schedule individually for backing up files and database. It is possible to set a different schedule for each but for simplicity you can use the same schedule for both.

In the screenshot you can see we’ve set the schedule to back up daily. This is fine for most websites. If you have a membership website or an e-commerce website you may want to backup, particularly the database, more regularly. You can set the schedule to backup as often as every two hours. If you have a very simple website where the content or design hardly every changes, you could set a longer schedule. UpdraftPlus allows you to set weekly or monthly schedules.

The next option for each type of backup is to select how many scheduled backups should be retained at any one time. You can enter whatever number you want here but bear in mind that you need to have the space on your selected cloud storage provider to hold that number of backups. As shown in the screenshot, a value of 7 will mean you will always have the last 7 backups, i.e. the last week’s worth of backups for a daily schedule.

After the first backup is taken, you can locate it in your cloud storage provider, see how much space is being used and set the number of backups to retain accordingly.

Before you can run a backup, you need to select which of the various supported Cloud storage providers you want to use. In our example, we’re going to use Dropbox.

You can leave all other options on the settings tab as default. Scroll right down to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes

Depending on which cloud storage provider you have selected, you will likely now be presented with a pop-up prompting you to authorise access with the provider.

UpdraftPlus prompt to authenticate with DropBox

One tip here. If you have multiple accounts with the selected cloud storage provider, make sure that you are logged in on the browser you are using with the account that you want to use for backups.

Follow the link and follow the instructions to authorise use of the cloud storage provider. Once you’ve completed the authorisation steps, you will be returned to your WordPress site to the UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore tab.

UpdraftPlus Authenticated Image
You can see here that no backups have yet been taken but that a backup for both Files and Database are scheduled. That’s it. You’re now all set to backup your WordPress website with UpdraftPlus automatically.

If you want to test out everything, you can click the big blue “Backup Now” button to perform an immediate backup.

When you click the “Backup Now” button, you will be presented with a pop-up to confirm a few options.

UpdraftPlus Manual Backup Options
You can leave these options at default. However, please note the final option to “Only allow this backup to be deleted manually…” This allows you to remove a manual backup from the scheduled backup retention limits. This could be useful if, for example, you want to make a safe backup of your website before you make major design changes to it.

Click the “Backup Now” button to create the backup.

Manual Backup Complete Image
Whilst the manual backup is being created, you will the status update on screen and you will see a pop-up message as shown above when the backup is completed.

You will see that the new backup is now listed under “Existing Backups“.

As an additional check, navigate to the folder location that UpdraftPlus is using to store backups and check that the backup files are there. You can get the folder location for your cloud storage provider from the UpdraftPlus Settings tab page.

You can now be sure that the plugin is installed and configured correctly.

Managing Backups

As discussed above, previously created backups will appear under “Existing Backups“. You have a number of options available here to help you manage your backups.

UpdraftPlus Manage Backups image
The first thing to note is that each backup consists of multiple individual backup files with an archive file for each of:
  • Database
  • Plugin files
  • Themes files
  • Uploads files (media Library)
  • Other files

The backup will have been automatically uploaded to your selected cloud storage provider, DropBox in our example. However, you can also download local copies of the individual backup archive files directly by clicking on one of the “Database“, “Plugins“, “Themes“, “Uploads” or “Others” buttons.

You can also select to “Delete” an individual backup. This will automatically delete the backup files from your selected cloud storage provider.

If you are particularly interested in the steps made by the plugin in creating a specific backup, you can investigate the detailed backup log by clicking on the “View Log” button. The log pop-up that appears allow you to scroll through the logged activity. You can also download the log file as a text file. You may be asked to do this if you ever need technical support from the plugin developer.

Finally, you can click the “Restore” button to restore any of the listed backups.

Disaster Recovery

Before we run through how to restore backups, lets look at the options we have under “Existing Backups” to handle a full disaster recovery situation.

If your website has been subjected to a disastrous hack or complete data loss, it may be completely unavailable to you. In this case, your only option may be to completely clean out your WordPress installation, re-install WordPress and start again.

In this situation, your first job, after doing a new WordPress install, should be to install the UpdraftPlus plugin into your brand new WordPress installation and configure it to connect to your cloud storage provider as discussed above. If you currently have backups stored with your cloud storage provider, these backups should then automatically show up under “Existing Backups“.

If the backups you have stored with your cloud storage provider do not show under “Existing Backups“, click on the “Rescan remote storage” link. This should locate, identify and list the backups. Finally, if all else fails, you can use the “Upload Backup Files” link to manually upload archive files either from your local computer or from your cloud storage provider.

With your backup listed under “Existing Backups“, you can restore your website from it as described below.

Restoring Backups

As indicated above, to begin restoring a particular backup click on the “Restore” button associated with that backup. This will start the “Restore Wizard”.

UpdraftPlus Restore Wizard Step 1

The first page of the restore wizard asks you to select which components to restore. If this is a full disaster recovery scenario you will want to select everything. Otherwise you can select only those components related to your missing or corrupted data. If in doubt, select everything. Click “Next” to proceed to next page. UpdraftPlus will now download any files it needs from your cloud storage provider. Once all files are downloaded and available locally, you will see the following page.

UpdraftPlus Restore Wizard Step 2

If you are very knowledgeable about your WordPress website and know that only specific database tables have become corrupted, it is possible to exclude some database tables from the restore. However, in most cases, and if in doubt, ignore this option and just click on “Restore” to restore everything selected in the previous screen. The restore operation will now start.

UpdraftPlus Restore Wizard Step 3 In Progress

As the restore progresses, you will see the activity log and overall status update as shown in the screenshot above. Once the restore is complete, all status items should show as green as below.

UpdraftPlus Restore Wizard Step 3 Complete

Note the link to download the log file for this restoration. Before you do anything else, follow that link and download the file. You can use this log file if you need to make a support request if the restore did not complete as expected. The above screen provides no option to return to your main website site so you will need to navigate to your website again by entering the website url into the browser address bar.

Your site should now be fully restored to the state it was in when the backup used was created. If this is not the case or you see any errors or missing content, it may be worthwhile to either try to repeat the restore of that backup or try to restore an alternative backup. If problems persist, you can request support from the plug-in developer.

Conclusion – no excuse not to backup your WordPress site with UpdraftPlus or similar plugin

Plugins like UpdraftPlus provide a convenient way to run scheduled backups of your WordPress website and store those backups automatically to a cloud storage provider such as dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.

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