How To

A Quick Guide to Backing Up Your Website

Adam Wright

by Adam Wright

A SanDisk external SSD with a black and red design lies on a gray surface next to an Apple logo.

As business owners, we share one of the biggest fears happening to us — losing your website.

Gone. Vanished. Disappeared.

Just like that, your online presence and sales tool is taken away with no known reason as to what could have gone wrong.

And for this exact scenario, is why you should always have a backup of your website. Your website is a huge asset to your business.

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It is the single most important thing you should not neglect — that is, unless, you just don’t care about losing your site. But I’m assuming you’re here because you do, and you want to learn about taking a backup.

Now, I know this is a foreign subject for many — and depending on your setup, it could vary on how a website backup is achieved.

Let’s take a look at how you can get started taking backups of your website.

Options for taking backups of your website

As mentioned, there are many ways this could be carried out depending on your website. In this article, we’re primarily going to focus on websites built with WordPress. This is where our expertise and knowledge lies in order to help guide you in the right direction.

With that said, there are a TON of different options to take backups with WordPress.

Hosting, dozens of plugins, third-party software, FTP, and more.

But what is the right approach for you?

In no particular order of importance, here’s the options I recommend exploring when it comes to backing up your WordPress website:

Backup Option #1: Hosting

So one of the first avenues to explore website backups is with your hosting.

Now, depending on your host, you more than likely will have to pay extra for it. Many do not include backups with your hosting, but some do (like WP Engine or Flywheel). So definitely be sure to check your hosting plan, and what you pay for, to ensure it comes with it.

I’m not saying that you should pay for backups with your hosting — but simply that you should check if you are already.

This is always the first avenue to check, as it’s the most common.

Backup Option #2: A Plugin

One of the beauties of WordPress is the plethora of plugins in the repository. This gives us SO many opportunities at our fingertips, to allow our website to do so many things.

Within the repository, you will find probably several dozen plugins that will perform website backups for you.

A few of our favorites that we have either used, or been recommended, are UpdraftPlus, BackWPup and WPvivid. Each of these plugins have their own setup and ways of taking backups, but each are reliable and good plugins to look into setting up on your website.

Backup Option #3: Third-Party Software

In addition to hosting and plugins, you can look into other software externally that will sync your website and take backups offsite. These are services like BlogVault and MainWP.

These types of solutions are paid software, however they also do additional things like monitor updates and security.

Keep in mind the cost of losing your website. Consider the cost of the software as website insurance — you’re allowing yourself the peace of mind to sleep well at night knowing that if something DID happen, you have a backup.

How often should you take a backup?

This is a great question to consider — and once you have your chosen backup option setup, I recommend you do at minimum a daily backup.

If you have a static site that you quite literally never update the content on, you could get away with weekly backups.

However, for full peace of mind, I always do daily backups. In the case of a more intensive site that is the machine to making your business work (like e-commerce), you should definitely consider doing multiple backups a day.

In this scenario, you could have something go haywire, and would want to revert back as soon as possible to not interrupt orders.

Should I only have one backup source?

It’s easy to think that your hosting is covering you with a backup, and you’re all set. But you should not rely just on a hosting backup.

Again, our websites are our business — if you lose it, it could cost you thousands of dollars in sales AND the cost to rebuild it.

So I recommend choosing 2 sources for website backups. This gives you multiple options in the case that something happens to one of them — in the end, this is all technology, and technology does fail from time to time.

Test your backups!

Much like you practice a fire drill at school when you’re younger, you should also practice deploying a backup to your website to ensure you know how it works, and that it WILL work.

Get acquainted with the process, because you will want your website down for the least amount of time as possible, should the issue arise.

So even though your website isn’t down, go through the process as you would if it was. Deploy your backup, check your website afterwards, and look for the following:

  • Are links working?
  • Do images appear?
  • Did anything break or look different?
  • Can you log in successfully?

These are the quick checks to ensure the backup was successfully deployed, but for more complex sites, you’ll definitely need to check with more detail.

Don’t skimp on paying for backups

Look — I can’t express it enough — your website is crucial. If you’re contemplating the cost of paying for backups, then your website must not really matter to you.

But for those of us who our website is really important, backups are imperative. Your peace of mind is worth a LOT, and in the event that your site does go down, and you have that backup ready to go, you will understand firsthand how important it was (and never want to go without again).

I’ve managed dozens of websites over the years, and I can tell you myself — stuff happens. Even to a WordPress expert like myself.

No website is fool-proof, and technology can be unpredictable.

If the whole topic of finding and setting up backups is just way too overwhelming for you, AWD offers website care plans to ensure you’re covered. Additionally, we can audit your current site and set it up for success, so the chances of it going down are much less.

So start taking backups seriously and don’t let your biggest fear become a reality!

Adam Wright

About the Author

Adam Wright

Adam is a California native, now living in Middle Tennessee. A long-time creative at heart, his passion for design and growing his small business, AWD, is always evident. When he's not writing code or sketching logos, he enjoys spending time with family, playing basketball, or watching just about any motorsports. Find him on LinkedIn.