Making a backup copy of a WordPress installation is important, not only to ensure against data loss in case of a server crash, but it also protects you if your blog ever gets hacked or if anything else goes wrong.
A backup can also be useful if you move a WordPress installation from one server to another, for example from your local computer to a web space, or vice versa. But how do you actually do this?
A Backup Can Be Used for Many Things
In addition to acting as a pure backup of a WordPress installation, in case something goes wrong, a backup can also act as a replica of a specific WordPress setup.
A backup can act as a copy for a project, something you can return to at a later date. This applies particularly if you intend to create more web pages for yourself, friends or for customers.
What Do You Need to Make a Backup
Backing up a WordPress installation can be done manually or it can be done with a software package or service. The latter is usually much easier, and we will look at this later. First, we will start with manual copying, that can be performed with FTP software.
We will show you how to make a backup of your WordPress installation by copying files and the database. What you need to backup your WordPress files from a web host is a FTP program and access to phpMyAdmin. If you have WordPress installed local on your computer, you don't need a FTP program. FileZilla is a free FTP program you can use.
Do a Little Spring Cleaning Before You Begin
Before you get started with copying WordPress files, you may want to delete plugins that you do not actually use. This is especially true if you have used WordPress for a long time, and have installed several extensions for testing. The problem is that all installed extensions, including those that are not activated, are included when copying WordPress files. The more redundant files you have, the longer it will take to copy.
Copy WordPress Files
Start by logging into your web host via the FTP program (you will need your web hosting details and password et cetera). The location of your WordPress installation varies by hosting, ie the folder where files are located, but this is usually public_HTML. You should look for files that are named wp-admin, wp-content and wp-includes. Also note that any hidden files in the folder must also be included, you can usually find an option in the FTP program, which is similar to "show hidden files" if you can't see any. If you can see the "htaccess" folder, then all files are being displayed.
Create a new folder on your computer, for example wordpress_backup in the documents folder. You can then transfer all WordPress files from your web host to the new folder simply by highlighting them all and dragging them to the desired folder using a program such as FileZilla. Copying all the files will take time, so be patient.
Restore a Backup
To restore a WordPress installation, you simply perform the same process, but in reverse, by copying the files from your computer to your web host. You can choose to restore the WordPress installation to the same domain as before, or to a new domain.
Copy the Database
Log into phpMyAdmin via your web host panel, and select the appropriate database you want to backup and export. Every web host will be different, so if you don't know where to locate phpMyAdmin contact your provider and ask for assistance. Click on "export" to download the file to your computer as a .sql file. The database essentially contains important details such a username and password, and most importantly, all your posts. If you copy your WordPress files to a new web host but don't import the database, you'll be left with a blank blog that only contains things like your plug-ins and WordPress files.
If you have more than one database, and are unsure which one you need to backup, you will find the answer in the file wp-config.php file that can be found in the wordpress folder on your server.
To import your database you simply select "import" and select the file on your computer. Once you've imported the database, you should then be able to login with your current username and password you used when you 1st install WordPress.
You will need to edit the wp-config file in WordPress, if you need or decide to change your MySQL username and password details.
How to Backup WordPress The Easy Way
Many of us prefer simpler solutions. There are lots of plug-ins that solve this and make backing up WordPress a lot easier. For this, BackWPup Free is a good option and free.
BackWPup Free can be downloaded and installed as a plugin within WordPress. Once you've installed the plug-in, it will be accessible via the left-hand admin menu within WordPress.
This plug-in offers several possibilities, but you can start by selecting "Add a new backup job". You will then see a new window, with the ability to configure the new task.
You can choose the file format and where you want your backups to be stored, such as to a folder on your computer, email, FTP, or a cloud storage service. Once you have finished entering all your details, click the save button. You can then access and edit these jobs any time by selecting BackWPup and choosing "jobs" on the left-hand side of your admin WordPress panel.
If for example, you wanted to save a backup of your WordPress installation to your computer, simply select "jobs" and click on "run now". Please note, this may take several minutes or several hours, depending on the size of your blog. Once it has completed simply click on "download" where you are then given the option to save it to your computer.
Feel free to experiment with the plug-in and choose the settings that best suit you.
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