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Which WordPress Files Should You Backup?

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Which WordPress Files Should You Backup

Which WordPress Files Should You Backup

Question: Do you have a backup of your WordPress site? If not, why not?

Question: Do you rely on your hosting providers free backup service? If so, why?

Remember, and this is important, it’s your responsibility to backup your website, not your hosting provider. After my recent experience with backup failures, I would recommend you do not rely solely on your hosting provider for backups.

  • The best defence against site failure and security threats is an up to date backup of your site.

A regular backups regimen is the fist thing you should implement after setting up your site. It’s the one thing every webmaster should have.

How often should you backup your site?

If you’re updating your site daily, then you should have daily backups. If you post lots of articles per day or get lots of comments then creating backups several times a day may be more appropriate. Basically, the more data you stand to lose the more times you should backup.

Why Have Backups?

Why should you make backups of your site? Is WordPress unsafe?

Firstly, WordPress is neither unsafe nor unreliable, but given the number of hackers just looking for somewhere to play, no site is safe. If big government sites, banks etc. can be hacked, then so can yours. Plus, accidents happen? Sites crash, servers fail, hardware fails, incompatible plugins go crazy for no apparent reason. All potentially reek havoc with your data and bring your site down.

Having a current backup allows you to get your website back online as quickly as possible.

What to Backup?

Some backup solutions such as WP-DB Backup allow you to backup your core WordPress database tables. I would not recommend this approach as your plugins, media files, etc. are NOT backed-up. A complete site backup should be done.

Your WordPress site has a database and three kinds of files that need backing up:

  • Your WordPress MySQL database.
  • The core WordPress files.
  • Files in the /wp-content/ folder (your theme, plugins and uploads).
  • Your WordPress configuration files (.htaccess, etc.).

Problems with Backup

Great, you say. I’ll do a complete site backup everyday from now on!

Well, I’m sorry to say you might have problems if you do that.

Creating full backups is very resource intensive. If you are on a shared WordPress hosting plan, creating full backups could hog your server resources. This could result in a slow website and may even make your site inaccessible.

The solution is a scaled backup regimen with multiple backup schedules. Try something along these lines:

  • Full WordPress site backup once a month.
    For busy sites, this can be once a week.
  • Database only backup every day.
    For busy sites, this can be several times a day.

The adage is this, if core files such as themes, plugins, uploads, configuration change, then you need a complete backup. If only posts/pages and comments are changing then a database backup should be done.

Transferring large files can also be a problem for shared servers, which may result in unfinished uploads or corrupt backups. Always check the validity of your backups.

Which Backup Software to Use?

There are many WordPress backup solutions. Several good solutions are free, some come at a price. All backup solutions have their Pros and Cons. I would recommend you pick a solution that is very easy and intuitive to use. If possible your WordPress backup solution should offer real-time incremental backups.

  • Real-time incremental backup creates a backup of any changes to your site as they happen, literally within minutes of the update. This means you don’t have to update all your files every day or every week. This backup solution is ideal for larger sites. Companies like CodeGuard offer real-time incremental backups.

For small to medium sized websites and those in shared hosting environments backing up to the cloud is a good solution as is having the backups emailed to you. You could simply have the backups remain on your server but that’s not really secure and you have to remember to download them onto an external drive each time a backup is performed. A solution such as BackUpWordPress, will back up your entire site including your database and all your files on a schedule that suits you.

Remember: The most expensive backup is the one you never did! And please test your backups!

Which WordPress Files Should You Backup Conclusion

If you are not already backing up your site, then start right now. Pick one of these recommended backup solutions and get peace of mind. Some of these solutions are free, so you have no excuse. Install a backup solution and start using it right away.

  • You can see my recommended WordPress backup solutions by clicking here.

Please make regular backups a habit and save yourself from a lot of trouble.

If you have any comment, corrections or items you think should be added to, Which WordPress Files Should You Backup, please do not hesitate to let me have them in the comment box below.


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