Automated Backups for WordPress

Although version control helps you keep your site’s code and theme files backed up, that still leaves the question of the actual site data. Site data includes the content of your site such as posts, pages, user accounts, images, videos, and comments.

All this data is not part of the site code but is instead stored in the mySQL database that is linked to your WordPress site. So you also need to think about backing up the contents of your database so that, if content is accidentally or maliciously removed from your site, you can restore it.

In this article we’re discussing automated backups but you also have manual backups available.

Hosting Provider Backups

Your hosting provider — like GoDaddy or Bluehost — most likely provides a backup service where they periodically take a copy of your site files and database content.

However there are two important things to keep in mind:

  1. The first is that this service is not usually enabled by default and very often carries an additional cost on top of the domain registration and hosting fees you are already paying.
  2. The second is that by relying on the same host as your backup service you risk running foul of the “putting all your eggs in one basket” problem. In other words, if your host suffers a breach or significant downtime then, not only are you not able to access your site, but you are also not able to access your backups!

Scheduled Backups

A better solution is to rely on a third-party service that can automatically take a copy of your site and its content and keep it safe in a different location to your host.

There are many plugins that offer this service. Here I discuss Jetpack as I believe it is both the most affordable as well as the most reliable.

Jetpack’s Personal Plan provides your site with unlimited, daily backups of your entire site for just $3.50 per month. You can read more here but, in a nutshell here’s how it works:

  1. Install Jetpack on your site
  2. Choose the Personal plan and pay at checkout
  3. On your dashboard, make sure “Backups” are enabled

Once you’ve done this Jetpack will take a full copy of your entire site every 24 hours keeping your mind at rest that all your data is safe.

Real-time Backups

Real-time backups are a step up from daily backups because changes to your site are backed up in real-time — ie, literally as they happen. For example, the moment you publish or edit a post, the new version is immediately saved to your backup repository.

Jetpack is the only service that provides this but, as you might expect, it is a more expensive service costing $29.99 per/month.

For a simple site (like this one) this is most likely unnecessary and overkill. The real value of real-time backups is for sites that see dozens or hundreds of changes on a daily basis such as news sites and blogs or ecommerce/retail sites.

If you choose to rely on any of these methods bear in mind that there is usually a cost involved. In most cases this is super affordable but, if you ever get into a position where you can’t carry on the payments, it’s then good to switch to manual backups.