How to Back Up Your WordPress Site (Manually or With Plugins)

backup your site, manually, plugins, flothemes
Have you ever lost your WordPress site? Have you ever been hacked and needed to restore a clean version of your site? Perhaps your website just broke after installing a plugin, theme or add-on? Or maybe your hosting provider’s servers crashed, or you simply forgot to renew your hosting plan, and they’ve deleted your site? No matter if you have experienced one of these painful situations or not –  having a site back up should be one of your main priorities when setting up a site.  If your site goes down, so may your business creditability.

While most hosting providers offer “back up” services, they only create back ups of your database, that means if the files are lost, or corrupted, you can say goodbye to your site. To prevent loss of business as well as situations when you feel like pulling out your own hair, I recommend putting in place a back up strategy for your business, trust me it’s going to help you in the long run!

In the following article you’ll learn how to back up your WordPress site. I’ll cover the steps on how to do it manually, as well as list some useful plugins to help you with this process! When you create a back up for your website, restoring  its previous versions becomes fairly easy!

Just note that on shared hosting plans, doing a full back up of your site daily, may slow it down as it takes up considerable server resources, so best would be doing it only once a month. Backing up you database on the other hand, can be performed daily or weekly as it’s only a small file. Take a look at the plugin solutions listed further in this article, as most of them will provide you the services you need.

Manual Back Up

Manually backing up your site is going to be a more tedious process, and restoring it will take more time than the options listed below. It is still very useful to know and understand this process. If you have some technical knowledge then it’s going to be a breeze. For those of you who aren’t technical you may want to skip ahead to the plugin options enumerated in the section below.

So, your WordPress directory contains various sub-folders, wp-content, wp-includes, your config files, themes and plugins required by your site. WP-content contains all themes, plugins, cache, and image uploads, you don’t want to lose this data. WP Admin carries the details for your WordPress admin area, you don’t want to lose that either. Finally the wp-includes folder contains WordPress core files, it helps having these when making your back up again.

To make a back up of your WordPress files you can login to your server via your hosting cPanel. Otherwise you will need a FTP Client such as FileZilla or Transmit which you can download for free.

In both cases you’ll need to download your Database and Files.


Back Up Your Site via cPanel

Note! If your site is large (over 3GB) it’s best to use FTP, as using cPanel may increase server load and slow down your site.

You can create the back up quite easily by doing the following:

  • Login to your web host and navigate to cPanel. For most web hosts, the cPanel is usually the first page you encounter when you login.
  • Navigate to the File Manager, and go to your root directory which should be your public_html or Home directory.
  • From here, just locate your WordPress files and folders. These will include:
    • wp-admin, wp‐includes, wp-content, all files which have a wp- prefix, index.php, xmlrpc.php.
  • Before you can download your WordPress directory you’ll need to compress it.
  • Click on your WordPress directory, and select Compress from the menu bar. Alternatively, right-click on the folder and choose Compress from the drop-down options.
  • Choose the compression type e.g. ZIP, GZIP etc from the dialog box that opens. I would recommend ZIP.
  • Then just hit the Compress File(s) button and wait for the process to complete. Your server will save your compressed WordPress folder
  • Click on the archive file you just created and choose Download from the menu. Alternatively, right-click on the archive and choose Download.
  • Choose a secure location on your hard disk and save your backup and you’re done!

Top Tip: Upload the backup to another location, such as your Dropbox account, Google Drive, or even email it if its not too large. Try to have more than one copy incase one fails.

If your web host uses a different control panel e.g. vDeck, Plesk, etc, the process is still similar, locate your File Manager, and just follow the steps above i.e. Locate File Manager -> Locate your WordPress directory -> Compress -> Download, and repeat (once a week would be suitable).

Back Up Your Site using FTP

For this example I am going to show you how to use FileZilla to backup your site.

  • First you’ll need to go back to your cPanel and make sure to set up an FTP account (it should be located in the FTP Manager section, if you’ve got lots of images also enable SFTP), note the details you’ll need them for the next step.
  • Use FileZilla to connect to your account, you’ll need the following information:
    • Host: enter your domain name, for example, if your domain is enter
    • Username: enter your cPanel username.
    • Password: enter your cPanel password.
    • Port – you can leave this blank unless your hosting provider states otherwise.
  • Now it’s time to download those files.
    • Step 1 – On the left locate the backup folder you want to add your content to, if you haven’t got one created already, you can create a folder called back up on the desktop.
    • Step 2 – On the right hand side locate Public_HTML
    • Step 3 – Now drag and drop your wp-content folder to the left, and also locate your wp-config file and move this also.
    • Step 4 – Wait until it finishes.


Backing up your WordPress Database

To backup your database, you’ll want to be logged into your cPanel as above. Then you complete the following steps:

  • Find your phpMyAdmin option, it’s generally located in “database tools”.
  • You should then be in your phpMyAdmin admin panel, on the right select your database table:


  • Now that you’ve opened your database, you’ll see the following, and will want to hit export:


  • Finally you’ll get to the export page, you’ll want to use the quick export method, and then simply hit go:


That’s it! You’ve now successfully completed a full back up of your site!

The next section will explain how to use plugins to create a site back up.


Finding it difficult to create a manual back up for your site? Not a problem, there are plenty of plugin solutions that can help you create a full back up of your site. In the following section we cover some details on useful plugins you can use to create backups (in many cases they also help you restore it) of your site.

UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup

One of the highest rated back up plugins on UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup is certainly a powerful tool. It is free to use, and allows you to back up your entire site to the cloud (Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP, Email and various other options). When using this plugin you can also restore your site in a single click, you can schedule back ups, and even split larger sites into multiple archives. Fully packed with features, simple and easy to use –  I would highly recommend this plugin!

Note: Make sure that you’re not running your back ups too often, especially on shared hosting, as this may use up your data allocation.

If you don’t have your own cloud storage options, or want premium support with the plugin, you can upgrade to UpdraftPlus Premium, this will store all of your backups on their own cloud service.


BlogVault is simple to use, it’s safe, and it makes backing up your site painless.
To create a back up of your site you should first sign up for a BlogVault account, only then you can download and install their plugin (they also offer to do this for you). As soon as the plugin is activated it will make a back up of your entire site – that’s your database and files. The plugin will then make regular back ups of your site, and backup new site information on a daily basis.
You can easily revert back to any previous version from the last 60 days. You can also download a full back up of your site to your computer, or use the feature to migrate a site to a new domain or hosting.

BlogVault also includes a really unique feature called “Test Restore” which allows you to check the backup version before you go live with it. You can simply choose an old backup version, temporarily restore it on BlogVault’s test servers, and review it before pushing it live on your own.

BlogVaults pricing starts from $9.00 a month or $89.00 per year for a single site.


VaultPress was founded by Matt Mullenweg, one of the co-founders of WordPress, and developed by his team at Automattic. It’s a great way to keep your site secure, with regular malware checks, daily backups, automated restores and a 30 day backup archive. It’s a wonderful tool! Much like BlogVault, you can also use this plugin to migrate your site from one hosting to another.

An amazing bonus added with VaultPress is the built in spam protection it offers with integrated Askimet, so you can be sure to prevent spam attacks on your site. Once you get this plugin setup it should be nothing but plain sailing for you!

VaultPress plans start from $9.00 a month or $99.00 per year for a single site.


BackWPup is a free plug-in that allows you to create a full backup on the cloud for your site (Dropbox, FTP, Amazon S3). With a single backup zip file you can easily restore your site. See the following article on how to create a free back up here.

With BackWPup, you can back up your database and export WordPress XML. Another good feature of this free WordPress backup plugin is that it allows you to check, repair and optimize your WordPress database easily.

There is a BackWPup Pro version available for more comprehensive cover, starting from $75 per year, with a $45 yearly renewal fee.

I hope you’ve found this information helpful, and will rethink your backup process to avoid any painful or unpleasant situations related to site and content loss. If you have any questions, feedback or recommendations, feel free to share your comments below.

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