If your WordPress website has any value to you, I can’t stress how important it is to back it up regularly. This can be accomplished manually, or automatically through a WordPress plugin. Let’s face it though, how often are you (or your client) going to remember to back up your site? Automated backup is the way to go.
I’ve tried the main WordPress backup plugins, and I’ve selected my favorite free and paid ones. These both can automatically back up your entire WordPress site including files and database without any intervention from you. Both have provisions to store your backups offsite, which is important (if you store your backups on the same server as your site, and the server goes down, you could lose your backups as well!)
This is the criteria I used to select my favorite backup solutions:
- Server compatibility: does it work on shared hosting like GoDaddy?
- Ease of use
Best Free Backup Solution: Updraft Plus
Updraft Plus is the highest-ranking WordPress plugin on the repository, and with good reason: it’s simply awesome!
Unlike many other backup plugins I’ve tried (Duplicator, Backup Buddy, BackWPuP), Updraft Plus had no problem backing up sites on resource-starved shared hosting (like GoDaddy). This is huge!
There is a one-button “restore” feature right in the plugin control panel to restore backed up versions.
Since this is a free plugin, you supply the storage. It has great integration with Dropbox, Google Drive, S3, Rackspace, and FTP. It’s really cool to see the backups magically appear in your Dropbox directory!
The backup is stored as four zip files which contain the database, plugins, themes, and uploads.
The free version of Updraft Plus works on regular WordPress installs, while the paid version is required for Multisite.
If you take a look at the Updraft Plus support forum, you’ll see that the makers respond quickly to user questions and requests!
Updraft Plus does require some setup though. You have to select your storage space, authorize access, select your backup intervals and so forth. This is a minor task if you are tech-savvy, but it could be a showstopper if you or your client is not.
But to sum up, if you need a free backup solution for a regular WordPress installation, and you don’t mind supplying the storage space and setting it up, I would highly recommend Updraft Plus!!
Note, as you can see in the comments, many reader recommend Backup & Restore Dropbox. I’ve never tried it, but it’s got great reviews and lots of installs, so it’s worth checking out!
Best Paid Backup Solution: VaultPress
Right now you’re asking yourself, “if there is a great free solution, then why consider a solution that costs money?”
The answer is that this paid solution supplies you with the backup storage space, making the setup process much easier. This is great if you (or your client) is not tech-savvy and doesn’t know how to set up Dropbox, etc. For this reason, I recommend VaultPress to most of my clients.
VaultPress is made by Automattic, makers of WordPress.
It’s super easy to install: just get it from the WordPress repository, sign up and pay, then enter your activation code in the plugin. Done. No need to set up storage space, backup intervals, etc. Easy!!
VaultPress does daily backups of your site and saves 30 days worth of backups (you can pay for more). Restoring backups is easily done. Amazingly, the storage space is unlimited.
Perhaps most importantly, VaultPress will work on cheap shared hosting. I haven’t found a site where it won’t work yet. It works well because it backs up one file at a time rather than generating a huge zip file (which other plugins do and often causes PHP timeout errors on the server).
VaultPress has good support. When I first started using it a while ago, I actually found a bug which was preventing some plugins from getting backed up. I emailed them and they got back to me within 24 hours and had a fix shortly afterwards.
VaultPress offers some side services like spam protection, malware scanning, etc. I usually skip all of those and opt for the cheapest plan (“Lite”), which costs $55/year. Note, this plan is somewhat hidden on their site, which I think is somewhat sleazy.
But, the ease of use and amount of storage space makes VaultPress my top choice for clients who are not tech-savvy.
Other Backup Plugins
Here are some other WordPress backup plugins that I’ve tried.
Duplicator used to be my “go to” plugin. Although it is not automatic (you have to manually trigger the backup), I liked its simplicity. Unfortunately, it stopped working on shared GoDaddy hosting for larger sites, so I can’t use it for many of my clients anymore.
Backup Buddy is a popular paid plugin, but it too did not work on some of my GoDaddy sites. I tried it on a site on Amazon AWS, and it pegged the CPU to the point where the site wouldn’t load while the backup was happening. Not good! It is also complicated to set up and has limited storage (unlike VaultPress, which is unlimited). As of this writing, Backup Buddy is $80 for 1 site with only 1 year of support. Expensive!
I had high hopes for BackWPuP, a free backup plugin, but it too failed on shared GoDaddy hosting, so I had to eliminate it.
What’s your favorite WordPress backup solution? Let me know below! – Brian