How to Backup Your WordPress Database, Images and Themes (Easy Way)

by Darko Johnson

WordPress is very easy to use for publishing. The same is true for backup.

How to backup your WordPress Database

Best plugin for doing this: WP-DB-Backup. Caution: I’ve tried some other backup plugins but they didn’t quite work as well as this one. WP-DB Backup is the only plugin WordPress mentions in their backup codex. I’ve personally tried it, created a database backup and then successfully restored the database:

Successfully restored a database created by WP-DB-Backup

How to automate the process: Download and install WP-DB-Backup. Then activate it. After that, you’ll see under “Tools” section on the right a “backup” button:

backup

Click on this option. On the page that appears, scroll down and you’ll see “Scheduled Backup.” I recommend you set it to “Once Weekly” if you publish no more than 5 posts per week. Also enter an email address (preferably some free email like Gmail because they keep your messages for very long). Each week you should get a fresh database file in your inbox.

schedules backup

The WordPress database includes:

  • Posts and pages
  • Essential user information (logins, etc.)
  • Comments, blogrolls, tags, categories

However, this is not in the WordPress database:

  • Images (references to the image URLs are included in the posts, but the original image files are not)
  • Plugins
  • Themes
  • Additional files like Javascripts, PHP scripts, static or dynamic web pages/code you uploaded separately

You need to backup each of these separately. I’ll show you how below.

How to backup your WordPress images and themes

Images: All of your images should be located on the FTP server in the wp-content/uploads folder (unless you specify otherwise.) To do a backup, just copy that folder from your FTP server to your computer and then keep them on your hard disc + zip and upload them to some third party service like box.net. That’s what I do. Simple yet powerful.

Theme: Backup your theme the same way you backup your images.

Plugins: You can use the same process for plugins. However, I don’t prefer to backup my plugins. What I do is make a list of the plugins I have and save the list in Notepad. When I restore my blog, I just go through that list and install the plugins again (WordPress makes it very easy to install new plugins + you get the latest versions always.)

How to automate the process: While researching this article, I’ve spent most of my time on figuring a way to do this. My conclusion: the simplest way to do this is to use Automatic WordPress Backup pluginwhich should upload your entire site (database, pictures, plugins, themes) to Amazon S3 servers.

Warning: after activating this plugin, they add a link in your blog footer, to disable this option, go to “WDC options” on the left in WordPress main admin window > General and uncheck that option.)

automatic wordpress backup settings

You can use Automatic WordPress Backup for backing up your database too. However, after testing this plugin and signing up for Amazon S3 service (yeah, you need to sign up and it’s very cheap) and tried backing up the database only, the size was WAY bigger than the size generated by WP-DB-Backup.

That’s why I recommend you use WP-DB-Backup for backing up the database and Automatic WordPress Backup for backing up the other stuff. So far, I haven’t noticed any conflict in having 2 backup plugins installed. Or you can simply use the manual method (and manually do a backup once per month) instead of paying for Amazon S3 account (below you can see what I mean by ‘really cheap.)

Amazon S3 is the cheapest online service I found on backing up files

In reality, the probability of someone getting into your server and deleting all your files is smaller than a corruption of the database.

Take care!

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