You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting the data on your community. Most WordPress site owners don’t know that their entire site, and I mean every piece of it, resides inside a database. Thus the best way to protect and preserve your site’s data is by performing regular database and file backups. Different backups provide different sets of data, but all are important. Here are the 5 ways to backup your WordPress site.

1. Using WordPress Backup Files

The administrative WordPress dashboard comes with a backup function already installed. Data extracted and downloaded can be customized based on the types of data you have stored in your database. For example, out of the box, this function will give you the ability to download pages, posts and images.

However, it will also pick up any custom post types you have installed via your functions.php file or a plugin. It’s pretty simple to use, and it downloads your data in an .xml file. I typically use this function when I am migrating a site from a testing URL to the live domain.
Export Menu Item
Backing up using this method is simple:

  1. Click on the Export menu item under the Tools menu from the WordPress Dashboard.
  2. On the next screen, choose what to export. The default is set for All Content. As you can see, I have quite a few custom post types I can target in addition to posts and pages.
  3. Click the Download Export File button…that’s it!

I would repeat this as you see fit. As your site gets larger, especially if you have multiple people writing for you, you will want to perform backups on a regular basis.

Be aware that by using this method you are only backing up your written content but not your files (themes, plugins, uploads) and your WordPress settings.

2. Backup Plugins

There are any number of backup plugins, from Jetpack by WordPress to BackUpWordPress and UpDraft Plus. Each of these will offer you several ways for your data to be backed up and even sent to a storage option of your choice (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3). So how do you know which one to use? I usually use 3 criteria:

  1. The plugin has been tested with the most recent version of WordPress.
  2. The plugin has a high-number of downloads.
  3. The plugin has a 4-5 star rating.

As with any backup method, just be sure to backup your site on a regular basis. Large sites should be backing up daily.

Be aware that these plugins are usually heavy on server resources, disk space and can (and often will) affect site performance.

3. FTP for Themes, Plugins & Images

You can always backup your WordPress site the old-fashioned way using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). My FTP program of choice is Filezilla.
FTP Download Themes
For Themes:

  1. Connect to FTP
  2. Go to wp-content>themes>yourtheme
  3. Right-click and select “download”

For Plugins:

  1. Connect to FTP
  2. Go to wp-content>plugins
  3. Right-click and select “download”. You can also go a level deeper and select specific plugins as well

For Images:

  1. Connect to FTP
  2. Go to wp-content>uploads
  3. Right-click and select “download”


Be aware that using this method you will only have a backup of your files and not your database.

4. Database SQL File Download (Advanced)

If you’re feeling adventurous (believe us, this is for advanced users) you can download a copy of your entire WordPress site database from MySQL. Depending on your host you’ll usually have access to PHPmyAdmin or Adminer where you will find a list of your databases. If you are unsure of your site’s database name, download the wp-config.php file in the root of your WordPress installation using FTP. Inside the file, locate the database name on the following line:
define (‘ DB_NAME ‘, ‘ database_name ‘);

Once obtained, go back to PHPmyAdmin, click on your database and select “export.” Although you will be given many formats to choose from, the most common and usually most useful is the .sql format.

5. Automated Full Backups (The WeFoster Way)

Not sure which option to choose? Don’t worry, the good folks at WeFoster have you covered, and they even made it really simple. You can run backups at anytime and/or have them set on a schedule. Of course, the larger the website, the more often it should be backed up. By default WeFoster automatically backs up every community once a day, but City & Metropolis plans increase the frequency to once every six hours. Enterprise-level plans enjoy hourly backups for maximum protection.

Backing up or restoring your site in WeFoster is simple and fast. Check out this quick walk-through video:

  1. Login to your WeFoster Dashboard and select “Backups” from the main menu.
  2. Select the backup you would like to restore.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select either Everything, Files Only, or Database Only.

There’s a big reason why Facebook has stood the test of time, and it’s not only because of its innovation. It’s also because the site has 100% uptime. As a site owner, you should be shooting for the same goal. The amount of data in a large website can get out of control in a hurry. Trust us, you don’t want to lose your pages, posts, post replies, and memberships. This is why we take care of automated one-click-restore backup functionality for you, while you focus on building your community!

How you keep your community safe?

What do you use to back up your community? Share your favorite tips, tricks, and hacks in the comments below!

Who is Nathan Sumner View all posts by Nathan Sumner

Nathan is a highly skilled web designer & developer who loves helping WeFoster customers build better communities through his extensive knowledge of WordPress and front-end development.

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