How to Backup and Restore a WordPress site successfully

If you run a WordPress site, you’re always at the risk of attacks and malware, thanks to the popularity of WordPress that makes it a preferred target of hackers. Why do business enterprises continue to experience devastating data breaches or extended downtimes? Here are a few common reasons why you need to backup and restore your WordPress site:

restore wordpress from backup

  • Your website could crash because of a hack or malware
  • Insecure WordPress web hosts could cause your site to go down
  • Accidental deletion of crucial WordPress files or folders during website maintenance
  • Hardware issues in data centers, including disk failure or power outage
  • Natural or manmade disasters such as fires, flooding, or earthquakes
  • The use of old or outdated WordPress versions – and plugins/themes with vulnerabilities

In fact, WordPress backups are as integral a part of your running your online business as, say, digital marketing or creating the right content for SEO.

However, a good backup strategy is only as good as the ease of website restoration. Think about it: A backup is ineffective if there is no easy way to restore the available backup files. On the other hand, the restore activity is incomplete if the updated backup files are not available. This is why you need to think about both WordPress backup and restore holistically.

Let us first look at the various methods to back up a WordPress site.

How to back up WordPress sites

Primarily, there are three methods of backing up WordPress sites:

  • Using a backup tool
  • Manual backups
  • Using backup services from your web host

Let us discuss each of these three methods in detail.

Method 1 – Backup WordPress site using a backup plugin

If you want to perform your WordPress backups yourself but want an easy and convenient way to do so, then backup solutions are what you should look for. Most of the popular backup tools like BlogVault, UpdraftPlus, and BackupBuddy are easy to use and do not require any advanced technical or WordPress support or know-how.

Yes, there are free backup plugins that handle backups, but for something as critical as backups, we recommend paid backup plugins simply for the reliability and peace of mind they offer.

One such backup plugin that we recommend is BlogVault, which handles both WordPress site backup and restore functions using the same dashboard.

Here is a short glimpse into how to backup your WordPress site using BlogVault:

  1. First, sign up with BlogVault on their registration page.
  2. After completing the registration process, log into your dashboard and then install and activate the plugin for your website.
  3. Once the BlogVault tool is activated, it automatically completes the first backup of your WordPress website and database. Here is a sample screen:

BlogVault takes an automatic backup of your website every day. You can also take a backup any time using the “Backup now” feature in the Backups section of the BlogVault account.

Besides ease of use, here are some more reasons why BlogVault has our recommendation:

  • After the first backup, every subsequent backup is aimed to ‘sync’ the latest changes to the existing backup instead of taking a complete website backup each time, which can be time-consuming and overload the server resources. These are also called incremental backups.
  • BlogVault stores multiple versions of the backups – so that you can choose the right one during restore operations – at independent locations.
  • BlogVault also performs all backups and restore activities on its dedicated servers – so that your server resources are never overloaded, causing website speed issues.

Method 2 – Manual Backups

If you do not want to invest in a backup tool, you can consider manually backing up your WordPress website and database. However, this is a technical process and requires working knowledge of WordPress as well as database and FTP tools.

Primarily, manual backups are composed of the following steps:

  1. Backup of your WordPress website files using cPanel or an FTP tool like FileZilla
  2. Backup of your WordPress database using the phpMyAdmin tool

Let us discuss each of these steps in detail:

Backup WordPress files using cPanel or FTP tool

You can back up your WordPress site manually using either the cPanel tool (provided by your web host) or any FTP tool like FileZilla.

Here is how to take a manual website backup using cPanel:

  1. Sign in to your WordPress hosting account and navigate to the cPanel tool.
  2. Log into your cPanel using your assigned username and password.
  3. Open your “File Manager” tool and navigate to the “public_html” (or installation) folder of your WordPress website.
  4. Do not download the entire WordPress installation folder. Instead, click “Compress” to compress the “public_html” folder into another subfolder.
  5. Select the “Compression Type” as either “Zip Archive” or “Gzipped Tar Archive” (it’s faster).
  6. Download the folder (containing the compressed zip file) to your computer or any other backup folder.

Alternatively, you can consider manual backups using an FTP tool. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Download and install an FTP client like FileZilla or WinSCP on your computer.
  2. With your FTP credentials, connect to the remote WordPress site (or server).
  3. Navigate to the “public_html” folder (or your WordPress installation folder), which displays the current WordPress installation files and folders.
  4. Right-click the installation folder and download it to your local computer. Alternatively, select the individual files or folders you need to back up and download them to your system.
  5. Encrypt the downloaded backup file using a compression tool like WinZip or 7zip.

Next, you need to perform a backup of your WordPress database.

Backup WordPress database using the phpMyAdmin tool

Besides your website files, you also need to take a complete backup of your WordPress database. Here is how to do it using the phpMyAdmin tool:

  1. As before, sign in to your cPanel and navigate to Databases > phpMyAdmin.
  1. Launch the phpMyAdmin tool that displays your existing WordPress database tables in the “Databases” panel. In case you do not know which tables are used for your WordPress website, you can obtain their names from the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation.
  2. Next, select the database tables that you need to back up.
  3. Click the “Export” link to export them in SQL format. This creates a WordPress database backup file in SQL format.
  4. Download the newly created SQL file and store it in any safe backup folder. You can also consider compressing the SQL file in a zip or gzip format.

If you do not have access to the phpMyAdmin tool (or it is not provided by your hosting company), you can use an alternative tool like Adminer to complete the backup activity.

Method 3 – Backup WordPress using a web host

If you are new to WordPress and don’t have time to invest in backup activities, then look for a web hosting company that performs website backups for you. Among all three methods, this is probably the most convenient mode that takes care of your website data without you having to spend any time and energy.

However, for the best results, you need to select a quality host like Bluehost or Siteground that offers website backups and restores as a part of their hosting plans. To be safe, enquire about how frequently they are performing backups and where they are storing the backup files.

Web hosts like Siteground also allow you to perform backups whenever you need one from their hosting account. Here is how you can do this:

  1. Sign in to your Siteground dashboard account, then navigate to the cPanel > Backups Manager section.
  2. Next, you need to open the Backup Tool.
  3. Create your backup by clicking “Create Backup.”

Following these steps, Siteground takes a complete backup of your website and database files.

Now that you are familiar with the various WordPress backup methods, let our next move on to how to restore a WordPress site from backup files.

How to restore WordPress sites

Similar to backups, there are primarily three methods to restore a WordPress site using the available backup files, namely:

  • Using a backup plugin
  • Manual restores
  • Use restore services from your web host

Let us discuss each of these three methods in detail.

Method 1 – Restore WordPress site using a plugin

If you want to perform your WordPress backups yourself but want an easy and convenient method, then WordPress backup plugins are what you should look for.

Following up on our backup example, here is how you can restore a WordPress site using BlogVault :

  1. First, sign in to your BlogVault dashboard account.
  2. For your website, click the “Auto Restore” button to get started with the restore function.
  3. Next, you can select what you want to restore.
  • For a partial restore, select the website files and database tables that you want to restore, then click Continue.
  • For a full restore, do not make any selection and simply click Continue.

This will restore your WordPress site with the latest backup version. If you want to restore with an older backup file, navigate to the History page in your Backup section – where you can view all the latest and previous backup versions of your website. You need to select the backup version that you want to restore – and then click Restore.

See More: UpdraftPlus Review

Method 2 – Restore WordPress manually

If you have previously used manual backups, then you must also manually restore the WordPress site from backup files stored with you.

As before, manual Restore is a 2-step process comprising of:

  1. Restoring your WordPress website files using cPanel or an FTP tool like FileZilla
  2. Restoring your WordPress database using the phpMyAdmin tool

Restore WordPress files using cPanel or FTP tool

Just like manual backups, you can perform manual restores by using either the cPanel tool or any FTP tool like FileZilla.

Here is how to perform a manual restore using cPanel:

  1. Sign in to your WordPress hosting account and navigate to the cPanel tool.
  2. Log into your cPanel using your assigned username and password.
  3. Open your “File Manager” tool and navigate to the “public_html” (or installation) folder of your WordPress website.
  4. Next, you need to delete the entire contents of the installation folder.
  5. Import your stored backup file to the File Manager tool. This will restore your website with the imported backup file.

Alternatively, you can consider manual restores using an FTP tool. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Open an FTP client like FileZilla or WinSCP.
  2. With your FTP credentials, connect to the remote WordPress site (or server).
  3. As before, navigate to the “public_html” folder (or your WordPress installation folder), which displays the current WordPress installation files and folders.
  4. Delete the contents of this installation folder.
  5. Select the stored backup files using the FTP tool – and drag them to your WordPress installation folder. This will restore your WordPress site with the imported backup file.

The next step is manually restoring your WordPress database using the phpMyAdmin tool.

Restore WordPress database using the phpMyAdmin tool

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Sign in to your cPanel using your web hosting account and navigate to Databases > phpMyAdmin.
  2. Launch the phpMyAdmin tool that displays your existing WordPress database tables in the “Databases” panel.
  3. Select the database tables that you want to replace and delete them from the system.
  4. Click the “Import” link to import the stored backup SQL file to the phpMyAdmin tool. This restores your WordPress database with the backup version.

Method 3 – Restore WordPress using a web host

Finally, if your web hosting company is taking care of your backup processes, then it is advisable to depend on them when it comes to restoring backups to your website. Depending on the hosting company, your website should be restored to normal in a few hours though it can sometimes take a few days.

However, there are hosting companies like Siteground and WPEngine that also allow you to restore your WordPress site using the available backups. Here is how you can restore your WordPress site using Siteground:

  1. Log into your Siteground host account and navigate to the “My Websites” section.
  2. Next, navigate to the “Site Tools” section, then click Security > Backups. Here, you can view all the backups available for your website.
  3. Select the backup file that you want to restore – and then click “Restore all files and databases” for a full restore. If you just want to restore website files or database tables, you need to click the appropriate options for these actions.

Importance of WordPress backup and restore

Today, no website is completely safe from hackers or crashes. You could implement all the WordPress security measures for your site – but it would still be incomplete with a backup process in place. An effective backup and restore solution ensures that if your website goes down any time, you can easily and quickly restore it to avoid any downtime, SEO impact, or loss of revenue.

We hope this article has given you a good understanding of the three main ways of performing a WordPress backup and restore. While backups from web hosts are convenient for beginners, relying on an external service provider may not always work well. On the other hand, manual backups are lengthy, time-consuming, and require you to have advanced technical knowledge of how WordPress sites work.

If budgets are not a constraint, we highly recommend investing in a dedicated WordPress backup plugin that simplifies the entire backup and restores process. Plugins like BlogVault provide multiple advantages like one-click backups and restore, incremental backups, staging, and safe and encrypted storage of backup files at multiple locations.

How are you currently safeguarding your website files and database tables? We would love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted in WordPress
namanmodi

I’m an Award-Winning Freelancer & Web Entrepreneur helping new entrepreneurs launch their first successful online business. Ranked as Top 1% Successful Freelancers & Creative Head of NamanModiDigital my goal has always been to provide exceptional services by utilizing my outmost abilities thereby ensuring client satisfaction globally.

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