With the amount of work that goes into maintaining and updating your blog it makes sense that you should regularly back up your data.
Yet many blog owners forget to do this, instead relying on the automated options provided by their web hosts.
This is leaving far too much to chance. If you truly value the blog and the work you (and others) are putting into it then you should be taking steps to ensure that regular backups are made. It might be reasonably straightforward to create a backup of your WordPress installation directory or theme via FTP and to create a dump of the MySQL database in phpMyAdmin, but these can be time consuming and confusing if you’re not technically-minded.
Fortunately there are various time-saving tools and plugins that can manage the creation and download of backups of your WordPress site.
Basic WordPress Export
Built into WordPress is an export utility, located in the Tools section of the Dashboard. While not a full database backup this does however allow you to easily create an export of all of the posts and pages in your blog, with tags and links to images.
Ideally this is designed for migrating a blog, but there is no reason why you wouldn’t want to use it as an easy-to-access backup tool. After all, should anything go wrong with your website and a reinstallation is necessary, then using the exported file via the Import menu option will be very similar to performing a migration.
One of the most popular options you can choose from is the WP-DB Backup plugin, available from http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-db-backup/. There are no bells and whistles with this plugin; while you might schedule backups and have the option of selecting which tables are included, you don’t have the option of backing up WordPress folders such as your theme and plugins.
This is purely – as the name suggests – a backup of the database. Given the fiddling about you might have to go through to create and download a SQL dump on some hosts, however, this isn’t a bad thing.
WP-DB Backup is a useful option to anyone who requires just the SQL data, which can be saved to your server, downloaded to your local computer or emailed (although this last option is restricted by file size).
Complete Site Backups
Other complete site backup solutions are available, providing you with the option of single-click archives of your entire WordPress blog.
EZPZ One Click Backup (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ezpz-one-click-backup/) is probably the most widely-regarded solution for this, offering not just one-click backups (which can be left on your server or downloaded) but also a simple one-click restore.
Usually restoring a WordPress site can be a difficult process, requiring the uploading of downloaded public_html directories and importing the original posts via SQL or the WordPress import/export tool. With a streamlined one-click restore, however, this is made far easier and quicker.
Lock it in the Vault!
For a much more comprehensive backup solution that is perfectly aligned for use with WordPress is VaultPress, also developed by Automattic. Thanks to the developer’s familiarity with WordPress this service allows online, real-time, continuous and complete backup with one-click data restore that allows you to easily recover from any errors, data loss or hosting issues that you might experience.
In fact, using this option – which has a three-tier payment structure – can prove extremely useful in a disaster recovery scenario thanks to the support and recovery assistance that is provided.
The basic package suitable for sole bloggers is just $15 per month per site. Packages for premium and enterprise-level support can be purchased for $40 and $350 per month, with additional features such as Theme and Plugin Scanning. Head to http://vaultpress.com/ for more details.
Back Up Your Blog to the Cloud
Cloud computing is becoming ever more popular and given that your WordPress blog spends most of its time on a remote server it makes sense to back it up to a similar service.
Whether you already use a content delivery network service such as Amazon S3 or not the WP S3 Backups plugin is a useful option, again ideal to anyone on the move who is unable to download a backup.
Requiring an Amazon S3 account (available from http://aws.amazon.com/s3/) and the security keys that come with it, setting up is a case of copying those details to the plugin’s settings page, then configuring which data you want to sync. If you’re already happy with Amazon S3’s low price cloud storage service then this backup solution is a no-brainer; if you haven’t discovered the benefits of CDNs then it’s also worth pursuing further. Find the plugin at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-s3-backups/.
Making backups is only one side of the equation, of course. At some point you might need to restore data and in order to do this you will need to keep a record of the backups made and keep them close at hand.
The best way to do this is by downloading the backups to your computer and then burning to optical disc. While a static or removable hard disk drive or tape media is an acceptable option, optical discs (CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray) will allow for greater portability and flexibility when it comes to storing and restoring the data.
Preserve your backups in a clearly labelled, well-indexed environment, preferably air-tight.