Toy Story 2 is a masterpiece of a film that put Pixar on the map as a contender to Disney. It had big box office numbers and families around the world loved the film. It leads to the growth of Pixar and eventually Disney having to buy them out. So what does that have to do with your WordPress backup?
Something that many people do not know is that Toy Story 2 was almost completely lost very near the end of development. Someone at the company made a mistake and deleted everything from the computers that were used to make the film.
No problem, they would simply pull out the backup data.
That was when the entire company was sent into a panicked state. They found out that they had lost an entire month worth of backups. The only reason they were able to release the movie was due to the technical director. She had been making copies of the entire movie and transferring them to her home computer.
She had needed to spend some extra time with her children that month. So she had been taking the copies home regularly. The timing was impeccable and it allowed the movie to be released and the rest, as they say, is history.
Did you backup your WordPress site correctly?
If this story shows us anything, it’s that even successful companies backed by millions of dollars in revenue and venture capital - with Steve Jobs at the head - can be prone to the occasional mistake.
A mistake that could have been fatal to the company at such an early and crucial time. If you haven’t asked yourself “Did I backup my Wordpress site correctly”, then your company is headed for disaster.
So, what is the correct backup? The ideal backup should consist of three key areas. One is frequency, in other words, the number of times you make a backup. The second is redundancy, which means how many places you keep the backup files. It’s also important where to store the backup files. Apple showed that not all cloud services are created equal - and that professional services such as Windows Azure and Rackspace are the best option for security. The third and final area you need to pay attention to is fidelity. Fidelity simply means “is this a working backup?”.
Three ways to backup your WordPress site
The frequency of your backups is going to be determined by how you go about things. Everyone has three options.
Making a Wordpress Backup without a plugin
This is the manual option, where you do everything yourself. This is the slowest option and will cost you in the long run.
A Classic Manual Method
You have to use an FTP client to download all the files in your WordPress directory to your hard drive. This can take some time as FTP is slow when not going via Unix on dedicated servers. Once all the files are downloaded, and there can be thousands of them depending on your setup, you need to put them in a zip file. Thankfully, this step is easy with modern operating systems such as Windows 10 and macOS.
You can also automate backups with BASH scripts on your Unix server. This is for advanced users only and if you aren’t sure of the consequences, then it might not be the best option for you.
The second part is slightly more difficult and needs some technical expertise. You need to make a Wordpress backup database and there are many ways to download one. This is due to different hosts using different user interfaces. While cPanel is one of the most popular - it isn’t the only one. However, since cPanel is the most popular web front end currently, a short primer won’t hurt.
Use cPanel And Things Get Easier
cPanel has its own suite of backup tools that make backing up your files easier than if you were to do it all yourself. Use their Backup Wizard - and then choose either the “home directory” or “MySQL Databases”. The home directory will give you a full, zipped backup of everything in your server, with the exception of email rules and your SQL databases. The “MySQL Databases” option will do just that. It will back up all your databases. This is probably the easiest, manual way of creating a good Wordpress backup database. The problem is that you will not be able to restore it on anything except a cPanel setup - which can be a pain if you are intending to move to a different host that might not use cPanel.
Other Methods Of Backing Up Databases
Thankfully, the WordPress Foundation offers a quick and easy primer depending on what your hosting provider gives you. It can be found here.
Finally, you need to check if the backup works. You can install a WAMP/LAMP stack on your personal computer and install WordPress there. It takes a bit of fiddling with options and might not be intuitive but it can be done. It will also take quite some time having to check that everything is working as intended. That is not even mentioning having to change all the details in the config files. It's a lot of work - but it needs to be done.
Finally, you need to upload the zip files to your storage of choice. You can burn them to DVD, put them on a USB or send them to your favorite cloud service.
It adds yet more time to what is already a long process and is the reason the first thing many people drop is a Wordpress backup without a plugin. Which is why...
The WordPress Backup Plugin Method
This is much better, but still leaves a lot to be desired. There are key areas left out when using a Wordpress backup plugin - such as redundancy and fidelity. However, some of them do offer the full suite. Those are usually expensive options that sell you exactly one Wordpress backup plugin per domain (or website). They can range anywhere from 40-80 dollars per site license.
These costs can quickly add up, particularly if you are starting a number of WordPress sites to maximize your online income. However, it is better than doing a lot of the work yourself. You only need to download a zip file - and some of the better plugins allow you to send the file directly to a cloud service (or your email). You can even schedule backups.
The problem comes with checking if the backups are working. You will have frequency and redundancy but not fidelity. If you think that is enough - just remember that Pixar employees thought so too at one stage.
You will need to check the majority of the backups yourself and that can be a big hassle, especially when you need to download larger websites and set them up one by one. Checking multiple sites takes time - time that can be better spent making content.
Doing a WordPress Backup from the 1-Click dashboard
WordPress was made to be as simple as possible - so that anyone could have a professional-looking blog. Automating everything can be just as easy as creating your WordPress site. Press a few buttons and presto! You have a verified backup on as many cloud platforms as you sign up for.
This is where WP Blazer shines. It offers a one-click WordPress backup of your entire website - both the files you need and the database that it runs on. All of this can be accessed from the dashboard - specifically the “Cloud Backup” option. All it takes is one click and your backup will be created. You are immediately given the file size and options to download it.
Of course, it wouldn’t be called a cloud backup if all you could do is download the file. You get the option to send it to a variety of cloud services - Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, Windows Azure, and Rackspace. If you have an FTP server (make sure it is secure!) you can send it there as well. There is also an emailing option if that is more to your liking.
The entire process is quick and easy - and there is no reason to go into each specific admin area of your WordPress site. That is the key benefit of using a dashboard to control multiple sites - you don’t waste time doing things separately. Everything you need is centralized. Everything is easy to access. There is an option to back up every single website that you have added to your WP Blazer account and to send each of those files to your preferred cloud service.
Wait! What about fidelity?
Glad you asked, actually…
I almost forgot to add one crucial piece of information. Backing up your site is not the only thing WP Blazer can do. You can clone an existing site as well. It’s a great option for quickly creating multiple sites that cater to different niches but have a central theme.
This option can be tweaked so that you can use one of your domains (or a sub-domain) to easily clone your backup and turn it into a fully working WordPress install. No fiddling around with config files, setting up a server on your personal computer or wasting time making sure that all the settings from your host are replicated 100% on your own machine.
You can check that everything is working with one click. The simplicity, ease of use and elegance of the dashboard solutions available in WP Blazer aren’t just there to save you time. They are there to save you money by keeping your site safe and making sure you are productive.
The right backup method can save your business
Work smarter, not harder. It's advice that is as old as time itself - and when it comes to backups, then it is as solid as ever.
Choosing the right method to use is simple. Your time is your most valuable resource. A remote system such as WP Blazer, with an easy to use interface will save you time. Every other method will waste it. That much is evident.
Everyone tries each method at one point, but there is a good reason why everyone who is serious about their site, about their business and about their time chooses a service such as WP Blazer.
The reasons are simple. Your website remains safe. Your business remains stable. Your time - is your own.