The Importance of Performing a Regular Back Up of Your WordPress Site

Always Back Up Your WordPress Site!

This morning I was working on putting the final touches on a beautiful website that was to be delivered to the customer this very afternoon. As I was preparing the site for the migration from testing server to live environment, I decided to head on over to my hosting account and clean out some old databases that had been left over on our testing server from previous websites. In my Spring-cleaning frolic I got a little over zealous and accidentally deleted the database of the very site that was preparing for launch TODAY.

Now, for those of you who are new to website design, the WordPress database – well, it’s kind of important. What does one keep in the database, you ask? Oh, just pretty much all of the content of the entire site along with all user credentials. So, now I had a site with no content and no users. On LAUNCH DAY. Not good.

So, what do you do in a situation like this? It’s hard not to panic and I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that I could hear my hearting beating in my ears. Literally, I could hear my own heartbeat in… my… ears. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty certain something like that is NOT healthy for anyone of any age.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing this for awhile and learned very early on the importance of performing regular backups – especially during the design phase when you are making lots of changes and spending hours of time creating your site. It only takes one incident like this, whether it be on your personal site or working as a professional, to know integrating a regular site back up process into your routine workflow is a must do.

While you can certainly back up your database and site files manually, the WordPress platform offers many affordable or even free plugins that can automate this process easily. Today, it was the BackupBuddy plugin from iThemes that saved my neck, but there are many others such as BackWPup, Updraft, and Duplicator to name a few.

Integrating Site Backups into Your Workflow

I’ve made it routine and compulsory to manually activate a back up routinely throughout the day during the build phase of any site and always a final one at the end of each workday.

Additionally, as we all know WordPress and it’s components are constantly updated. Prior to initiating ANY update (WordPress core files, theme files, or plugins) I ALWAYS take a backup.

Creating Scheduled Website Backups

One of the awesome perks of automated back up plugins is that you are able to set a schedule for them to take regular backups of your site. Most allow you to set your own schedule and number of backups to keep. If there’s every a serious issue, you can always revert back to your most recent backup, even if it didn’t contain all your most recent work, losing a few days works of changes is certainly better than having no website at all!

Using Your Backup to Restore Your Website from a Hack

Discovering that your website has been hacked isn’t only a total bummer, but it can be very stressful. You can spend hours trying to discover and clean the infection, not to mention hundreds of dollars to hire a professional to take care of it for you. The simplest way to recover from a hack is to simply restore an uncompromised backup of your site. (Another reason why it’s important to keep multiple copies of your backups is to ensure that you can go back far enough to ensure a clean installation.)

Using Your Backup to Recover from the WordPress White Screen of Death

If you haven’t experienced this with your WordPress install yet, be thankful. The most common cause of the dreaded white screen is an update gone awry. While there are some troubleshooting techniques you can use to try to find the culprit, you can always rely on reverting to your backup to get your site up and running again.

Saving You from Yourself

Ever do anything stupid? Like accidentally delete your database? Point made.

Storing Your WordPress Backups

I always store my site backups in three places:


    1. On the server itself – makes for easy extraction of backup files to restore previous versions or revert only certain files back to a previous build. But this all assumes you still have access to your server.

    1. Local copy – I download the latest copy and store it in a folder on my computer or storage drive

  1. In “The Cloud” – All of my backups are automatically delivered to my storage in the sky. For my processes, I use something simple like DropBox, but Amazon storage is another very popular option.

Why so many copies? Let’s just say I like redundancy. And never ever trust storing your copies only on your hosting server. In the event of a server crash, you could potentially lose everything! Cloud storage is multi-purpose, low cost or even free. And the local version, that’s just for my peace of mind. So, maybe three is overkill, but I’ve got customers that depend on my paranoia and I’m proud to say I haven’t lost a site yet.

Doesn’t my host keep back up copies of my site?

Some do, some don’t. And those that do usually only keep them for so long. Be sure to check with your hosting provider about their backup policy and make sure it’s ENABLED. Some hosts promote this as a service, but require you to manually activate it. My general rule of thumb is to never trust a host’s backups.

So, back to the timeline of my morning:

9:45 am – Disaster strikes and my database gets deleted
9:46 am – Suffer from stress induced heart palpitations and blurred vision
9:47 am – Search for backup copy from 2 hours prior
9:48 am – Upload backup copy to hosting account and hit “Restore from Backup”
9:49 am – Site is live

Total time from disaster to recovery – FOUR MINUTES. And no one even knew the site was down except for me. Well, me and now you.

So what should you do now?

If you don’t have a backup solution installed on your site, you need to do that right now. Not ASAP, right now. Then, you need to set up a regular back up schedule and integrate some sort of cloud storage for your backups. Make sure your backups are stored in at least two places.

When that’s all set up, you need to use it. Religiously.

Having regular backups of your WordPress website probably won’t save your skin tomorrow or the next day. But I can pretty much guarantee you that you’re going to need one of those backups one day and you are going to thank the high heavens that you have it.

Need Help Implementing a Backup System for Your WordPress Site?

Simply fill out the contact form below and let us know how we can help!

Jessica Dohm

Jessica Dohm

Founder, Dohmain Designs

About the Author

Jessica is the Director of Digital Marketing and Owner of Dohmain Designs. She is a small business sales and marketing expert specializing in business growth through intelligent website design and sales & marketing automation.

Jessica is a Certified Infusionsoft Partner, marketing automation and CRM expert with over 15 years of professional sales and marketing experience. In 2011, she combined that experience with innovative website design and created Dohmain Designs. She has worked with biotech giants, overseen the digital marketing for a popular Discovery Channel hit TV series, and helped hundreds of clients grow their business. Prior to creating Dohmain Designs, Jessica worked in the fast-paced biotech sector focusing primarily on technical sales and marketing, as well as providing complicated sales-focused CRM training across various disciplines.

Jessica is a member of her local Rotary Club where she has previously served as the Membership co-chair and currently serves as the Public Relations chair. Jessica truly believes in the "Service Above Self" Rotarian philosophy and strives to dedicate her time and talents to helping others, both in her personal and professional relationships.

She is located in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and works with clients all across North America. If you'd like to get in touch with Jessica, simply complete the contact form below.

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