Do I need to back up my WordPress site

One of the biggest mistakes users make when hosting a website is not making backups.  I come across users never making backups and relying on the web host to backup their data.  Now a good host will have backups.  But no host will ever guarantee to have backups.  That is nearly impossible to offer, especially for shared web hosting.  

Also, when you sign up with a web host, they will tell you in their Terms of Service, that your data is your responsibility.  And rightfully so.  It is your data and leaving it up to your host to back it up is not responsible of you.  If you don’t care for it, then why would anyone else?

What are some reasons why you need a backup?

  • Server crash – when a server crashes and the host does not have any backups or a current backup, this means you need to rebuild your site, or update it from the last available backup. 
  • Malware – sometimes websites get infected with malware.  Sometimes its so bad, rebuilding is the only solution.  If that is the case, you will need a backup.
  • WordPress update – the odd time a WordPress update may break your site.  If you need to roll back, then an backup is required

Where do I store my backups?

You should always store your backups on a remote server or service (dropbox or google drive etc).  

Never store you backups on the server where your website is hosted.  If the server crashes and the data is not retrievable, then your backups were good for nothing.  Always store them remotely.

How often should I backup my website?

It all depends on how often your website is updated with content.  If your website is static, and never get updated content, you can backup once a month, or even weekly.

If you update it a few times a month, then I would suggest weekly.

If you update your site daily, or numerous times a week, then a daily backup would be best. I would suggest a daily database backup at least.

What to backup?

Now with WordPress, you may have the option to backup the website, or just the database.  If your site layout and plugins don’t change, or don’t add images, then this can be set to backup once a week or monthly.

But if the content of your site is changing or updating often, then maybe you just need to update the database file only.

This will save you a lot on remote disk space on the backup server.  

Now if you are adding content with images, then you will need to update the whole website to have current backups. 

NOTE: This is why it’s important to keep your images optimized and don’t leave large images on your site. Not only is it bad for your site, it also takes up space on your account and on the backup server as well for nothing. Please read article How to reduce diskspace in WordPress

WordPress backup plugins.

Now there are a ton of backup plugins out there.  Some are good and some are not.

What to look for in a Plugin. 

Below are a few things to look for in a plugin.  Not everything is needed.  Just the features you want. 

  • easy to use
  • can backup to remote server or service
  • does not strain server when running
  • option to restore files or database from WordPress
  • able to auto schedule backups
  • able to manually extract backup file
  • able to backup database only
  • able to set retention amount

Personally for me, I prefer my backups to have the WordPress files, and the database files in a zip file.  This way I can manually restore the website myself.  Some plugins do not give that to you, or make it very awkward to get the files.

Some plugins backup the files to its own type of backup that you can not extract, and can only restore it from within wordpress.  Now that may not sound bad, but if you website is not accessible, then you need to wipe it and do a fresh WP install and then reinstall the backup plugin to restore.  Now to a non technical person this may be good actually, but for me I’d rather not.  But to each their own.

Below are some free WordPress plugins I tested, and will share my opinions on them.

What I liked

  • simple
  • easy to use
  • backups up to remote service (dropbox only)
  • scheduler
  • able to restore from with WP Admin panel
  • able to download and delete backups from admin panel (only deletes locally, not from dropbox)

What I didn’t like

  • only can backup to dropbox
  • backups to a .sgbp file that you can not acces
  • when storing backups to cloud, still keeps a copy of it locally (takes of space on your hosting account for nothing.)
  • only deletes backups locally and not remotely
  • can not specify how many back ups to keep

My Verdict

Good solid plugin. I would recommend it. 

Some of the features I would like to have are available if you buy the plugin.  So if you are OK manually deleting some of the old backups then it would be OK.  But if you manage a lot of websites, then this would be a pain.  You can get a lifetime deal on their website too.  If you have a lot of sites and will to pay, then this is a great paid option.


What I liked

  • very simple and basic
  • can download backup
  • can backup just files, just DB, or both
  • able to set a retention
  • able to set schedule
  • backup file was a zip file of files with a sql file for the database.
  • able to send backup to dropbox (free version only)
  • able to set option to slow backup to reduce any taxing on server
  • stores backup file on remote server and not locally

What I didn’t like

  • not much I can think  does everything you need it to
  • no options to restore from admin (paid version does)

My Verdict

This use to be my goto plugin for many years.  A few years I stopped using it as it had a few issue with backing up.  So I have not tested it in a few years and its nice to see it work again.

WPvivid (MY PICK)

What I liked

  • it meets all requirements

What I don’t like

  • the way the backup is structured. Not one large zip with all files, numerous zips

My verdict

This plugin is great.  The free version offers everything you need

  • backups website
  • stores it remotely
  • removes locally copy
  • option for shared hosting (to reduce CPU resources)
  • option to set a schedule

The only issue i would have is the zip file you get.  Its not one big zip file with all your files.  There are numerous zip files.  The good thing you can still manually restore it, just takes some time to put everything back together. This is more of an advance way of doing things.  I just like to have that option to easily move and restore WP sites.

But you can use the plugin to restore as well to restore your website.

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