The simple export-import method was not an option for me since my blog has been dead for ages. All I’ve got was the SQL database backup, but restoring it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Even though the blog was finally up and running, the process that I had to go through was far from friendly for ordinary users.
The experience sent me out on a quest for a backup plugin. While there are lots of such plugins for WordPress out there, the ones that provide an easy restore are scarce. Updraft is one of those rare species.
Install & Customize
You can download the plugin from the WordPress.org plugin repository then unzip and upload it to your blog using a FTP client. Or if you use the latest version of WordPress, you can find, download and install it directly from your blog’s plugin menu.
After installation, activate it. Then go to the Updraft menu. It’s located in the side menu of your WordPress Admin area under Settings. There’s the “Backup Now!” button to schedule a one time backup, and there’s the “Restore” button to restore one of the available backups.
You can also find information about the next scheduled backup, last backup, how many backups are available to be downloaded, and the location of local backups (note: “local” in this case means inside the WordPress folder on your hosting company’s server, not in your computer’s hard drive).
When you do a one time backup, a confirmation window will appear. Basically the window tells you that you need to load a page on your blog to trigger the backup. This “load to trigger” method is commonly used to avoid the use of cron jobs – a server-side automation system which is not recommended for non-geeky users. You don’t have to worry about having to run the process manually. Unless you have a blog with zero visitors, you should do just fine.
Another thing that you can do from within the Updraft menu is automating the backup process. To do that you can customize the backup intervals (Manual, Daily, Weekly or Monthly), how many backup instances the plugin should keep, and which external cloud backup service to use – should you want to use one.
Regarding the cloud backup service, there are several choices that you can pick. The easiest is email. This option will trigger the plugin to send backups to your email on the intervals that you’ve specified. The disadvantage of this method is that you have to upload the backups to be able to restore them later.
The second option that people may commonly choose is FTP. We can safely say that every self-hosted WordPress blog owner would have access to an FTP account as it’s a standard feature of a hosting account. To use this option, just specify the server address, login credentials, and FTP path, and the plugin will take care of the rest.
If you have Amazon S3 and/or Rackspace Cloud Files account, you can use it as an alternative method.
Restoring The Backups
The very basic action to restoring a backup is by clicking the “Restore” button. A drop down list will appear with all of the available backups for you to choose from.
To restore, pick one backup from the list and click “Restore Now!“. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to download the backups, click on the availability link, and four buttons will appear: Database, Plugins, Themes, and Uploads. Click one of the buttons and the download will start.
As you can see, the database backup itself is very small, but the themes and plugins are huge. To save yourself from future headaches – and to keep your blog slim and fast – you should delete unused themes and plugins.
Since the blog that I use as an example has very few uploaded images, the size of the uploads backup is fairly small. But for big blogs with thousands of images (and other uploads) the size might not be as friendly as mine. Please consider your hosting account storage limit before you decide how many backup instances you want to keep.
I couldn’t try the plugin with third party cloud backup services (Amazon and Rackspace), as I don’t have an account because they are not free. Even though Amazon currently offers one year free usage of their Amazon Web Service, I decided not to opt in because the registration requires a valid credit card number and I don’t like the thought of moving the backups out of Amazon S3 storage after one year. But if you happen to use one of these services, you could try integrating them with Updraft and share your experiences using the comments below.
In general, I see Updraft as one of the great WordPress backup alternatives. I just wish that the developer would add more free options to the list of external cloud backup services. Hopefully, the features will appear in future versions, along with many other improvements and new features.
Let us know how you back up your WordPress blog. Would you use a plugin like this?
Image credit: Tony Austin