The web, like the ocean, is a vast expanse with many dangers. When launching a WordPress website out into the web, make sure you have some insurance against those dangers.
One?easy way to make sure you’re not permanently sunk if your site?goes down due to pirates or technical error is to make regular backups of your site and keep them stored separately from your main files.?If your site is built on WordPress, making website backups is quite?easy and can even be automated so that you can pay attention to?the seas ahead instead of constantly?worrying about backing up files.
As with anything in WordPress, there are many options for backing up your site.?We’re going to recommend a free option that’s easy and automated. (Note that while we have had good luck with the following?setup, we are not connected with the?services listed here, and we cannot provide in-depth support.)
BackWPup is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to set a backup schedule and save the files to?any number of storage locations. For our purposes, we’ll show you how to use the plugin along with a free Dropbox account to create a simple, automated backup system.
Step 1: Install?the Plugin
Log in to the admin section of your WordPress website. Then go to the Plugins section, click “Add New,” and search for “BackWPup.” Preview the plugin to learn more, and then install it and activate it when you’re ready.
Step 2: Create a New Backup Job
You’ll see a new option called “BackWPup” in the admin menu bar on the left.?Click on it, and then go to “Jobs.” Click “Add new.”
In the General tab, you don’t need to change much. Give the job a name that makes sense to you (for example, “My Dropbox Backup”). Down in the “Job Destination” section, choose “Backup to Dropbox.” Or, if you?have another location in mind to store your files, pick one of the other options. Don’t worry if you don’t have a Dropbox account yet — we’ll take care of that later.
At the bottom, you have the option of?having log files sent to you via email. Go ahead and enter your email address?so you’ll be?alerted in case a backup ever fails.
Be sure to save changes when you’re done.
Step 3: Schedule Your Backup Job
Next, go to the “Schedule” tab at the top. Here, start by choosing?the “with WordPress cron” option.
For the “Scheduler type,” choose “basic.” Under “Scheduler,” you’ll set up how often and when you want to back up the site. Once a day?or once a week?is reasonable, depending on how often you add content to your site.
If you want to back up daily at 3am, for example, it would look like this:
And here’s what a weekly backup, every Sunday at 3am would look like:
Save your changes when done.
Step 4:?Connect to Dropbox
Skip the next three tabs at the top (DB Backup, Files, and Plugins), and now go to the “To: Dropbox” tab. This is where you’ll tell BackWPup about your Dropbox account so it can save the files there.
Let’s assume you don’t have a Dropbox account yet (or you want to create a new free account just to store these backup files – highly recommended!). Go to Dropbox.com?and sign up for a free account. (Note:?If you click the “Create Account” button in the BackWPup interface, it’ll open Dropbox in the same window and make it harder for you to get back once you’ve signed up. Instead, just open a new tab and visit Dropbox directly.)
Once you have your?Dropbox account set up, go back to the BackWPup “To: Dropbox” tab. ?Next to the “Full Access to Dropbox” option, click the “Get full Dropbox auth code” button.
A pop-up appears, asking for your Dropbox login credentials. Type these in and?give permission for BackWPup to do its thing.
When done, save your changes.
Step 5: Run the Backup to Test It Out
There are other options you can feel free to explore and play with. For now, we’re going to move on and actually run the job to make sure it works.
Under the BackWPup?menu on the left, choose “Jobs.” Your new job will be listed. Hover over the job name and click “Run now.”
If everything works, you’ll get a success message in a few seconds or minutes, depending on the size of your site.
If it didn’t work, go back through the options and make sure everything is set up correctly. Pay special attention to the Dropbox connection settings. If you still can’t get things working,?head over to the plugin’s support forum and search for help or ask a question of the developers.
Step 6:?Go About Your Business
That’s it! Your site is now scheduled to automatically back itself up to Dropbox based on the schedule you set. If anything ever goes wrong, you will?receive an email?alerting you to check the settings and account connection.
Step 7:?What If I Need to Restore From a WordPress Website Backup?
Hopefully this won’t be an issue, but if it is, well, that’s why we did the backup, right? In the case that your site is hacked or?mysteriously deleted, you can feel safe in the knowledge that recent copies of your site are stored on your Dropbox account.
Restoring a site from the backed up files is a topic that’s beyond the scope of this article.?If you’re not familiar with the inner workings of WordPress, you’ll probably want to consult with your hosting company or a web developer. Tell them that you have the backup files, and they’ll be able to get you back up and running in no time.