Post last updated: June 2015 – I’ll update this post periodically as needed.
While there are various plugins available for backing up your site & automating the process, there may come a time when you want to do a quick, manual backup. For example, maybe there’s a new, major WordPress update that is available & you’d like to have your database backed up before installing it. Or maybe you’ve never backed up your site before, know you should, but haven’t found a full backup solution that you want to use yet.
Happily, doing a manual backup is really easy.
Back up your Posts, Comments, Pages, Menus, Settings: aka your Database
- In your admin area, go to Tools –> Export.
- Check “All content” and then “Download export file.”
- Save that file in a safe place! That is an export of your WordPress database that contains the content of all of your posts, pages, comments, and menus. NOTE: The export function DOES NOT export your media files, your theme, or your widgets! It exports your posts, comments, categories/tags, various settings, and pages only.
Back up your Widgets
To back up your widgets, go to Plugins –> Add new and search for a plugin called “Widget Importer & Exporter.” Install it and activate it. (Or you can download it here and upload it into your Plugins)
- Go to Tools –> Widget Importer & Exporter.
- Click “Export widgets.” Notice that the file that downloads has a “.wie” extension. This makes the file usable only by this plugin, and it will help you remember what this file is for. Save that .wie file in a safe place along with the rest of your backup.
Back up your theme
Go to Plugins–>Add new and search for a plugin called “WP Clone Template.” Install & activate it
- Go to Appearance–>Export and download a copy of your theme. Save the .zip file with your other backup files.
Back up any theme CSS changes
If you (or me, or another designer) has used a custom CSS plugin along with your theme – look under the Appearance menu for “Custom CSS” and if you see it, then click it – you want do “select all” and “copy” and “paste” everything in that file into a blank text file on your computer, save it as “css_changes.txt,” and keep that with the rest of your backup.
But what about the images?
Coming soon – a post on how to back up your images via FTP. That’s a longer explanation, so it needs its own post series.
How often should you back up?
- Your database: Every day that you’ve posted or changed pages, etc. Search through plugins for one that will do this for you.
- Your widgets: Only after major changes (and if you don’t use many widgets, you may not need to back them up at all; if you have a lot of ad widgets, for example, then backing them up can save you time later if you need to restore them all).
- Your theme: Only after changes are made; once you have a copy of it, you shouldn’t need to back it up again until it changes.
Automating a complete backup that includes images
I recommend Vaultpress. It’s the best solution that will back up every-dang-bit of your WordPress, including images. Their basic plan is $5/month, which is absolutely worth it.
Storing backups & keeping more than one copy
Doing redundant backups is the safest way to go. When you do a backup, keep copies in 2-3 different places: For example, on a flash drive, in a Dropbox account, on another computer, on an external hard drive.
While automated backup services such as Vaultpress are awesome & highly recommended, nothing beats knowing how to do a manual backup yourself. It might take a few extra minutes to get all the pieces downloaded, but it’s worth the piece of mind to know that you’ve got all your hard work duplicated, just in case.
Keep a log of your backups – FREE DOWNLOAD
I’ve started doing this so I have a visual reminder of when I’ve backed up & when I need to (and it lets me see just how long I go between backups, ha!). Click the image below to download a Blog Backup Log PDF that you can save & print as many times as you need to keep track. :)