WordPress Backups, Staging, & Cloning

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Don’t have a WordPress Backup Plan?

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

Protect yourself and your clients by planning regular WordPress backups. Be sure to test your backup solutions before your next disaster.

What are “backups”?

Website backups allow you to save your site and related databases to a secure cloud location. From there, backups can be restored to a site or uploaded to a new place.

Why backup?

  1. You can make a mistake, like deleting essential files, code, or plugins.
  2. An intruder can gain access and then hijack, destroy, or ransom your site.
  3. Your website host can fail, leading to a temporary loss of your website.
  4. A plugin or theme might crash your site.
  5. A newly-applied update to a plugin or the WordPress core might alter or break your website.

Without a recent backup, any one of those situations leads to catastrophe.

What is “website staging”?

  • A staging site is a clone of your live website. It enables you to test any changes in a secure environment. 
  • You can stage your site at a subdomain or on a different domain. 
  • Many website hosts offer website staging. 

What is “website cloning”?

A clone is a backup that is uploaded to a new location. The uploaded website looks, feels, and acts like the original backup but lives on a different domain or subdomain. 

What is a “website migration”?

Migration is a website clone where your cloned site is copied to a new website host, usually searching for better host performance & support.

 Are you moving to a new website host? 

Most hosts will migrate your website for free.

Doesn’t my host already back up my website?

  • Their Frequency – Your host may not back up often enough to capture your most recent updates or sales.
  • Their Reliability – Your host backup restoration may not work and should be tested before your next website disaster to ensure that it works. 
  • Your Technical Knowledge  – Your host backups might work perfectly, but can you do it quickly with existing knowledge? Will you have to learn how to upload a database and transfer files in the middle of a crisis?

Exceptions to the host backup rule

Premium hosting companies like Chastain Sites, KinstaWP Engine, and Flywheel provide managed WordPress plans that include reliable website backup and restorations.

Types of backups

  • Database backup: Some plugins allow you to only backup your WordPress database. Database-only backups are an incomplete solution.
  • Complete manual backup: Some plugins let you backup your entire website, including your WordPress database backup and all files.
  • Complete scheduled backup: With this option, you can create scheduled backups to run automatically.

Manual Backup – for the Nerds

For those who already have the skills, phpMyAdmin & an FTP client are all you’ll need to manually backup, clone, and restore a site. Scheduling can be accomplished with cron jobs.

Choosing the Best Backup Plugin

  1. What functionality do you need? Write down what you want in a contact form before you start researching. 
  2. Search online for “Best Backup Plugins” and read through several “Best of” articles. Compile your best matches
  3. Search for “backup” through your WordPress Dashboard > Add Plugin
  4. Choose two plugins as your final solution, then start with your favorite choice.

Research the WordPress Plugin Developer

  • Are there lots of active installs? 
  • Good rating? 
  • Tested on your version of WordPress? 
  • Active support?

Plugins for Backups

  • UpdraftPlus Premium https://updraftplus.com/migrator/ *Recommended 
  • ManageWP https://managewp.com/ *Recommended 
  • BackUp Buddy https://ithemes.com/backupbuddy/ 
  • BackWPup https://backwpup.com/
  • BackupWordPress https://wordpress.org/plugins/backupwordpress/ 
  • VaultPress / Jetpack https://vaultpress.com/ 
  • Duplicator https://wordpress.org/plugins/duplicator/ 
  • Backup Migration https://wordpress.org/plugins/backup-backup/ 

Backup Scheduling Tips

  • Schedule your backups to run when you have the fewest website visitors, particularly on cheap hosting.
  • Test your backup solutions before you need them.
  • The frequency of backups depends on how often your website content is updated. 
  • An ecommerce site should have backups every six hours. 
  • Most sites should schedule backups every 24 hours.