3 Things You Must Know About WordPress Backups

Suzza Silver  

WordPress backups.You think you are doing it. Bloggers have told you how to do it. You’ve downloaded a plugin to help you. I guarantee that at most you have only done 1/3 of the work. It really isn’t that obvious or clear from most plugins what the heck they are doing when they backup your WordPress website.


I want to cover at least 3 things you should backup if something catastrophic were to happen to your website. I mean ultra, everything gone, not just a WordPress plugin snafu. I’ll cover that another time.

WordPress Backups Come in Many Flavors

Did you see that one coming? I know of at least three distinct things you want to backup if you have WordPress Blog. We will cover each in order of magnitude.

1. Backing up your WordPress Directory

What you really want to do is backup everything that resides on your web host’s server that represents your website. This folder usually has the title “WordPress” or sometimes “Content”. I can’t help you if for some reason your web host has decided to call that folder “pudding pops.”


Here are the complete steps to downloading your WordPress Directory from Cpanel. Yep, it will even email you the link to the folder in a zipped archive. Make sure that you download to your hard drive.

Why: The why of this step is that you cannot recover your media uploads or WordPress theme files from a standard backup. Even if you can recover your posts they will only contain text and any custom templates will be lost.

2.Backing up your WordPress Database

Information about your website is kept in data tables by WordPress. These tables store things like your plugin settings, the order of publication of your posts, data about comments etc. It is separate from actual content, which we will talk about in number 3. These tables tell WordPress how to arrange data.

This is what most backup plugins do. They email you a copy of a .sql file or .zip/.gzip that represent the data tables associated with your WordPress installation. Here is a list of some of the most popular plugins for database backups.

Why: You are pretty much starting from square one if you don’t have your WordPress database tables. It would be as if you never set up that plugin or got a single comment on your blog.

3. WordPress Exporter

You are probably most familiar with that Import/Export function under tools in the Admin dashboard. This is a key feature of WordPress and allows you to transfer your actual blog/page content (the words) to other places. It is something called XML. Downloading this file means you can recover all that great stuff that you wrote without skipping a beat.


Warning: Large websites also have large XML files and there is an upload limit in WordPress. There are some ways to get around it, but more than likely you will have to split up the file to import everything again. I’ve used this tool successfully to split a WordPress XML file into smaller parts.

Why: No blogger wants to lose their hard work. If you don’t use the XML export option than your only other choice is to write and/or store your posts in a word document offline. I think this WordPress Export route is much easier, although it comes with some risk.

ValultPress from the Makers of WordPress

After the last total meltdown of my WordPress blog, I got smart. I invested in VaultPress by Automattic. It is $15 a month per blog, but what is your safety worth? The backups are literally click and forget.

These backups can make a full restore of your WordPress blog! Yep, I am referring to those three things that I just mentioned above. I really think this is your best choice… Unless you enjoy giving yourself more work!

Have you ever had to recover your WordPress Blog? Was it difficult or were you able to find help?