The Manual Backup
Let’s start with the obvious. There are ways to backup your WordPress without using any automation at all. No WordPress plugins, no monthly paid services and it’s fairly straight-froward and easy to accomplish.
The problem? The manual backup is… well.. manual. You will have to remember to use your chosen method at least on a weekly basis to grab your backups and store it on your computer. Other than that, if this sounds like a great solution for you, Mr./Mrs. I’m in CONTROL and that’s the way I LIKE IT, let’s get started!
Consider a USB external drive. Using an external hard drive will help prevent your backups from clogging your main hard drive over the long term. Also consider using a naming structure where you download your backups to a dated folder, something like 20150529 for May 29th, 2015. I put the year first so that Windows (or Mac) will automatically sort the folders by year then date.
cPanel Manual Backup
Most people are on a cPanel based web host. Examples of popular web hosts that use cPanel are InMotion Hosting, HostGator and SiteGround. If you see a section that looks similar to the screenshot above, then continue on!
Login to your cPanel using the instructions provided by your web host, find the Files section then click on Backups.
From here, you have three options.
- Download a Full Website Backup – This will generate a full backup zip file that will include all files on your entire cPanel account including your email on server, cPanel configuration settings and yes, your entire website data including images and your database(s).
- Download a Home Directory Backup – This will generate a zip file of all of your website files but it will not include your WordPress database.
- Download a MySQL Database Backup – Clicking on a database here will generate a zip file of your database to download.
I prefer to download the home directory and MySQL files separately so that I can restore them easier if needed. That choice is up to you.
cPanel WHM Semi-Automated Backup
If you happen to be on a Virtual Private Server, you will have access to a much more powerful backup solution. Login to your WHM, search for backup and click on Backup Configuration. This will bring you to the screen shown on the right.
Here’s the backup settings I’d recommend for you to use but feel free to play with it.
Backup Status: Enable
Backup Type: Compressed
Backup Weekly: Sunday
Retain: 4 Weekly Backups
Backup Accounts: (check)
Select Users: Select all
Backup Suspended: Enable
Backup Access Logs: Enable
Backup Bandwidth: Enable
Use Local DNS: Disable
Backup System Files: Disable (your host can restore this easier than you)
Databases: Per account Only
Backup Directory: /backup
Once you save your configuration, you are set. Now all of your cPanel accounts will be backed up and you’ll likely get an email from your server letting you know a backup has been completed every Sunday. Just login to your server with FTP, navigate to the /backup folder and begin your downloads.
Other Control Panels
You should be able to find a backup option on any web host you are on. For instance, in Parallels Plesk Panel, find the Backup Manager under the Files section. The process is very similar to the cPanel method shown above.
If you have a vDeck control panel such as the one provided by iPage, then look for Archive Manager and zip the entire www directory.
The PHPMyAdmin Alternative
Based on my experience with some less-than-optimal web hosts, you may need to download your WordPress database the old caveman way using PHPMyAdmin. Every host I’ve encountered has had access to PHPMyAdmin because it’s the easiest way to allow clients to make changes to their database.
Fortunately, PHPMyAdmin also allows you to download your entire database.
- Click the database name on the left, most likely, you only have one database to choose from (for security reasons, we blurred our database name).
- Click the Export tab.
- Keep Quick as the radio button selected.
- Click Go. You will instantly receive a download prompt to download your entire database.
Take that you data hoarding web host!