Website Backup Strategy to protect your site

Website backup is often the overlooked part in the whole cycle of creating and maintaining a website. Things work out well until a day, when something goes wrong. It can be hack, defacement or malware attack, or some hosting related issue. Not having a backup can keep site off for days, and essentially loss of reputation, hard earned SEO factors and in case of eStores, loss of revenue as well.

Here is how an effective Backup strategy can be built for your WordPress site. This can be an outline for all websites, but here we are covering WordPress sites specifically.

What to Backup

WordPress structure comprises of 3 sections, WordPress Core, WordPress Contents and Database. WordPress core is free and opensource, can be downloaded from https://wordpress.org again at the time of restore. We can skip the WordPress core from backup process.

Website Backup should include following parts.

i. Database

Use PhpMyAdmin / Adminer utlities in CPanel of your website to export active WordPress Database. Recommended to use Gzip compression in the options, for smaller download size & maintaining integrity.

phpmyadmin db export screen

Save this Database backup safely with timestamp.

ii. Files

Make sure to include following files and folders in the backup.

  • wp-config.php – file holds the configuration of WordPress Site with database credentials and other essential system. It should be part of backup.
  • .htaccess or equivalent server configuration files.
  • /wp-content/ folder along with all subfolders. which holds, theme, plugin, cache & uploaded files.

Create a zip of all three files together with a timestamp & download for safekeeping

When to Backup

Having a backup schedule is recommended, and it depends on the nature of your websites. For blogs & corporate websites, weekly backup should be more than enough, for eCommerce, it is recommended to have better frequency, depending upon the traction and volume. Additionally, always take a backup before & after the website content update. Before the update, one should keep backup onsite, and delete after successful content update, after successful update, create a backup & transferred to remote storage.

Also it is highly recommended to have a backup before any major WordPress version upgrade.

Where to Backup

Backup kept on webspace same as that of website is as good as having No Backup

Local backups (kept on website hosting itself) could be for short term storage, but having it for as a reliable backup source is a mistake one should avoid. We suggest to download the backups for safekeeping on an offline media like external hard-disk. Alternatively cloud storage can be used for keeping backup safe, given it has access restriction & encryption in place. Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive etc could be a place to store small to medium website backups. In case of larger backups, enterprise solutions like DigitalOcean Spaces (we recommend this), AWS S3 or amazon glacier etc. are the better suitable alternatives. If your website has sensitive information, make sure to encrypt your backup with strong encryption standards before transferring it to cloud storage.

3-2-1 Strategy of BackupMicrosoft recommended 3-2-1 strategy of having an effective backup structure. 3 copies of Backup, stored over 2 totally different and isolated media, and at-least 1 offline backup, should cover majority risks associated with your website.

Testing your Website Backup

It is often neglected part, may lead to trouble, when backup is needed the most. Keep testing the backups at-least once every 3 month, for its integrity and effective restore, to avoid last minute surprises. Many factors can contribute to a broken backup archive. It’s better to spend some time in crosschecking for it. WordPress often pushes the update, sometimes web hosting space isn’t sufficient to create backup file, network connection may interrupt during the backup transfers, there could be many factors which can puncture this otherwise foolproof backup strategy. Testing your backups regularly can help avoiding such issues.

Automating your Backup Process

WordPress repository has vast array of plugins which can offer hassle free backup solutions. Some of them are free, some are Freemium and worth the price. We recommend following plugins.

  1. All in One WordPress Migration – is our favorite plugin for migration, but this can also be used for backup. (Freemium)
  2. Backup Guard – It can create a backup in its propitiatory wpbg file, We recommend this for simple interface. File need to be downloaded manually.
  3. UpdraftPlus – in its paid version, UpdraftPlus supports scheduled backups, and remote storage options including Google Drive, Onedrive, dropbox, DO Spaces, AWS etc. Highly recommended. It has free version available
  4. Duplicator – often used for migration, we recommend this for Pro users.
  5. BackupBuddy & BlogVault are backup solutions for serious businesses.

Outsourcing the Backup tasks

We offer WebCare a comprehensive suite of website maintenance services, and at heart of it is periodic backups, daily as well as weekly depending on the plan, WebCare gives one stop solution for your backup issues and website updating and maintenance. Do check our WebCare page for more details.

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