Backups of your WordPress site are important for many reasons.
Backups can be created by your hosting provider, using WordPress plugins, or with an external service. But not all backups are created equal, and you should know the difference and which options to use, and when to use them.
A backup of your WordPress site is a secondary, separate copy of both your files and your database for your website.
Restoring a site from a backup might be necessary for a number of reasons. Probably the two most common reasons to restore a site from a backup are these:
On other hosting providers without a built-in WordPress firewall (WAF), lack of secure site containers, or less focus on security, the next reason is more common:
However, many of these providers also don't provide good, reliable backup & restore features, so more often you will find yourself manually cleaning up a hack, restoring from an older backup, paying someone to clean up the site, or migrating to a host that will clean up a hacked site for you, such as SITEDISTRICT.
An even less common reason for restoring sites is an actual issue with the database:
Actual corruption of the files and database is generally very rare, but this could be an issue at certain hosts.
Finally, there are a few reasons to create and keep a special type of backup, called an off-site backup:
See the section below about Off-site Backups for more info.
Backups of your WordPress site can generally be created in two different ways. It is important to understand the difference between these, and which ones should be used, in which scenarios.
A full analysis and discussion of backup options could be an entire blog post. For our purposes here, we'll just highlight a few key points for each of these two types of backup & restore systems:
On SITEDISTRICT, you should always use our built-in backup system, for all routine backup & restore operations. Nearly the only reason to use a backup & restore plugin on our platform is for off-site backups. The next section covers this topic.
In the Reasons You Need Backups & Restore section above, we covered the reasons you might need to restore a site.
For the most common cases, which involve reverting a change made by you or another person with access to your site, you should always use and rely on the hosting backups.
However, in case of what we will call a "disaster" - something that is much more rare, but would cause you to not be able to use these backups - then you will want to have an Off-site Backup.
An off-site backup is just like a regular backup, in that it contains a full copy of the files for your website, as well as the MySQL database, but is stored separately from your hosting.
Common places to store off-site backups include:
Off-site backups are currently the main reason to use a WordPress backup plugin or service. There are several options out there, but the paid version of Updraft Plus seems to be one of the more popular & better options. For WordPress-specific backup services, VaultPress and BlogVault are reasonably popular.
NOTE: We are planning to integrate off-site backups into SITEDISTRICT at some point as well, which should entirely eliminate the need for 3rd-party backup plugins, in most cases.
Backup and restore systems on WordPress hosts can vary immensely. Here is a list of what we think makes a good backup system:
On SITEDISTRICT, complete backups are created automatically and regularly for all sites that are enabled (not manually disabled or frozen).
Creating a complete backup of a WordPress site typically takes a matter of seconds.
This is how it should be, and we find the backup systems at many other hosting providers downright painful to use because they are extremely slow.
Backups should NOT take so long as to require you to check your email or wait for a notification in the dashboard they have completed, several minutes later.
Instead of daily backups for just 30 days, like a lot of hosting providers, we do things a bit smarter.
Our backups range from just a few hours old, to up to 6 months back.
The backup schedule on SITEDISTRICT is as follows:
|Every 2 hours, except from 12 am to 2 am Pacific time
|Every day, except Sunday and the first day of the month
|The first day of every month
We do this because if you mess something up on accident, and you need to restore from a recent backup, you won't lose all your work for the past day. Instead, you can restore a backup from an hour or two ago.
But what if you need a file that was deleted 3 weeks ago? How about 2 months ago? We've got you covered.
We don't store daily backups for every day from the past 30 days. Most likely if you're looking for a backup from 3 weeks ago, there's not going to be a difference between 23 and 24 days ago. Instead, either the backup from either 3 or 4 weeks ago should contain what you need.
It is important that your backups are secure, and can't be corrupted or deleted by a hacker, bad plugin code, other administrators of your site, or even you.
Backups on SITEDISTRICT are made secure as follows:
To access the backups for a site, and restore a backup, open the Site Details view for a site first:
Then select the Backups / Restore page using the left-hand navigation. You will see a list of backups similar to this:
The Backups list contains a number of columns, which provide information about the site at the time the backup was created:
In addition, several WordPress-specific details about the site are extracted, and shown in the table:
Total plugins on the site
To create a fast, on-demand backup of your site at any time, click the blue Backup Now button:
You will be shown a dialog:
Click the green Backup button to start the backup.
To restore a backup, find the row in the Backups table for the backup that you wish to restore. Then click the gray Restore button. You will be shown a dialog:
Click the green Restore button to confirm.
Each clone on SITEDISTRICT created using our staging system has its own backups.
You might need or want to restore a backup from one clone to a different one. To do this, find the backup in the Backups table that you wish to restore, and click the gray Restore button. Then select the desired target clone via the Restore to dropdown:
When all looks good, click the green Restore button.
You can also create a brand new site clone from a backup on SITEDISTRICT. To do this, find the back in the Backups table that you want to restore, click the gray Restore button, and then select New Clone from the Restore to dropdown. You can change the auto-generated Clone nickname if you'd like.
When all looks good, click the green Restore button.
There are several ways to get to the backup files on SITEDISTRICT, for viewing, downloading, or copying.
If you wish to download either a complete backup or just part of a backup, you can use the light blue Download button / menu that is available from each row in the Backups table.
Click on the Download part of the button to immediately download a complete backup of the site, including both the files and an archive of the MySQL database.
Click on the arrow on the right side of the light blue Download button to display a dropdown menu, with additional download options (links):
Click any of the links to download an archive of the relevant portion of your site.
You may also access the backups of your site via the File Manager. You might wish to do this for a few reasons:
To access the backups for a site, click on the File Manager link in the left-hand navigation column, and then click on the
backups directory from inside the embedded file manager.
If you are comfortable with the Linux command line, you may also access the backups from the Web Terminal inside SITEDISTRICT.
Unlike the secure container that is used by WordPress, the Web Terminal has (read-only) access to the
backups directory for each site clone.
You may also access the backups via your favorite SFTP client. The directory structure will closely match that shown in the screenshot above for the File Manager.
On SITEDISTRICT, you receive a resource allowance for your account based on the number of paid sites on the account. One of the resource allowances is for Disk Usage.
Backups created by SITEDISTRICT are not counted towards your resource allowance. This means we are essentially storing three copies of your site (live copy, primary backups, secondary volume-level backups) for the cost of one.
For more details, please see our Billing - Resource Usage and Overages page.
NOTE: Backups created by WordPress plugins that are stored on the SITEDISTRICT servers are part of your site, and will technically be counted as part of your resource usage.
Backups - and especially restores - are a critical component of owning, managing, developing, and hosting a WordPress site.
The difference between good backup systems & mediocre ones can be night and day. Speed is usually the biggest and most important difference. Hourly or semi-hourly backups can also make the difference between losing minutes or hours of work.
On SITEDISTRICT, we think we have one of the best WordPress backup & restore systems on the market. If you're a customer already, check them out and become familiar with them, so you're not in a panic if or when you need them.
If you're not yet a customer, sign up yourself to experience the difference.