How to automatically backup your WordPress website

It is so important that you regularly backup your WordPress website! The good news is there is a free plugin that allows you to easily schedule automatic backups.

You have worked so hard on your website! You wouldn’t want to lose everything, would you?

Speaking as someone who has lost their entire website and all of its content in the past, it’s really not fun to see all of your hard work disappear in an instance.

This is why it is so important that you create regular backups of your website. Don’t be the person who says “It will never happen to me.” because that was me several years ago, and it’s absolutely crushing when it all goes wrong.

And don’t rely on your host to make backups! This is YOUR website we are talking about. It’s up to YOU to protect it.

The good news is there is a free plugin for WordPress called UpdraftPlus. Not only does UpdraftPlus make it possible to backup your website, it also allows you to schedule automatic backups, and it will automatically send a copy of the backup to a remote storage location, such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

In this post I show you how to install UpdraftPlus and create your first backup. I will also show you how to schedule automatic backups and send those backups to a remote storage location of your choice.

Originally published 2nd July 2018. Last updated 25th March 2021.

How to install UpdraftPlus

To install UpdraftPlus, hover over Plugins in the left hand menu of WordPress and then click on Add New.

Screenshot showing how to add new plugin in WordPress

On the plugins page, search for “Updraft” and you should see a plugin called UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin. Click Install Now and then when prompted to, click Activate.

A screenshot showing the UpdraftPlus plugin in the WordPress plugin repository.

And that’s it! UpdraftPlus has now been installed on your WordPress website.

How to manually backup your website

After installing UpdraftPlus, hover over Settings in the left hand menu and click on UpdraftPlus Backups.

UpdraftPlus plugin in WordPress | HollyPryce.com

This will take you to the UpdraftPlus settings page.

To create a one-off back up, click on Backup Now.

Screenshot showing how to make a backup of a WordPress website using UpdraftPlus.

This will open a popup box. Ensure that the top two options are ticked and click Backup Now.

Screenshot showing how to make a backup of a WordPress website using UpdraftPlus.

UpdraftPlus will then start the process of backing up your website. While your website is being backed up, you will see a yellow progress bar. Once the backup is complete you will no longer see this progress bar and instead you will see the date and time of the last backup.

Screenshot showing the progress of UpdraftPlus making a backup.

To view your completed backup, scroll down down to the Existing Backups section at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot showing existing backups that have been made by UpdraftPlus

Here you will see a list of all the backups you have created. These are stored within your WordPress installation.

To download any part of your backup, just click on the relevant button. So for example, if I wanted to download a backup of the database, I would click on the Database button.

This will then prepare the file for download, and when it’s ready just click Download to your computer to download the file.

It’s important that you keep a backup somewhere other than within your WordPress installation. This is because if something happens to your WordPress installation and you can no longer access your admin area, you won’t be able to access your backups.

How to set up automatic backups

It is important that you make regular backups of your website, but the good news is you don’t have to do it manually each time you want to make a backup.

To set up automatic backups, click on the Settings tab on the UpdraftPlus page.

Here you will see two options: Files backup schedule and Database backup schedule. Both of these options are set to Manual by default.

For both of these options, we are going to change the Manual option by clicking on the dropdown arrow, and we are going to choose how often we want automatic backups to be taken.

How often you choose to backup your website is entirely up to you. If you post several posts a day you may want to back up daily, but if you post less often then you might choose to back up weekly or fortnightly. Remember, your website can become slower when it is in the process of being backed up.

You will also see that you have the option to choose how many scheduled backups you wish to retain. This is set to two by default, but you can increase this if you want.

When you are happy with your choices, click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

How to automatically store your backups remotely

As I’ve previously mentioned, you won’t want to just leave your backups on your WordPress installation. You will want to keep them somewhere safe and somewhere away from WordPress, just in case things go wrong.

The great thing about UpdraftPlus is that you can automatically send copies of your backups to remote storage locations, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. You can even send a backup to your emails, although this may not be possible if your website files are particularly large.

To automatically send your backups somewhere else, go to the Settings tab of the UpdraftPlus page. Underneath the automatic backup settings you will see your remote storage options:

After selecting which remote storage location you would like to use, click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

What happens next will depend on which remote storage location you have selected. For example, if you select Google Drive, you’ll then be prompted to log into you Google Account to connect the two together. Follow the instructions provided to get everything set up.

Once you’ve set up your remote storage location, I recommend making a backup manually just to double check everything is working and that you know where your backups are being sent to.

How to use a backup

Hopefully you won’t even need to do this, but if you do need to backup your website, all you need to do is click Restore next to the backup you want to use and then choose exactly what you want to restore.

Alternatively, you can upload a backup file from your computer by clicking Upload backup files.

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