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WordPress How To: Do the Mother of All Backups

How to do a thorough back-up of WordPress before you wish you did after the fact.

Backing up is one of those things that many folks think about when it is too late, and you wish you had the backup you never made. Usually, when you are in the situation of wishing you had backed up, you are then motivated to get a system in place, so you never have to feel that pain again.

When WordPress, your theme, or plugins require updating, you need to backup first. So let's take care of that today and help you avoid being one of the “I wish I had…” crowd.

Not comfortable (or don't have the time) backing up everything and updating yourself? Subscribe to my monthly WordPress White Glove Maintenance Service, and I'll handle everything for you with the bonus of extra coaching and business intelligence you can use to grow your site!

WordPress Backup Steps


If you are on a Managed WordPress * Host, you most likely have the backup option or create a restore point in your hosting dashboard. Thanks to your hosting, you do not need a plugin to backup to your server. All you have to do is login to your hosting and backup.

You can set these plugins to backup once a week to your server, and if your database isn't too large, you can have a copy of the backup e-mailed to you. But even if you automate this process, make a point of downloading a copy of that backup off your server and onto your local computer, to the cloud or external hard drive.

If your host has issues, what good is having your backups stored there? Same for your computer. If you have your backup on your hard drive and it crashes, you'd better have a backup service to recover. That's why it is a good idea to have copies of your site's backup files in more than one location.


I back up my computer every day with IDrive. iDrive automatically backs up the files on my main workstation — including my WordPress site files. So now I have redundancy which is a good thing. The chances that my Web host, my hard drive, and iDrive are all going to crash and lose my files is practically impossible — and let's face it, if that were to happen, something tells me we would all have more important things to worry about.


Through your Web hosting control panel's File Manager or by using the FTP software of your choice, download the “wp-content” folder off your server. This folder is the heart of your WordPress site.

To be safe, in your root directory, which is usually HTML or public_html, download a copy of your .htaccess and wp-config.php files too.


Last but certainly not least, when in your WordPress Dashboard, go to Tools > Export and download your WordPress XML file that contains your content, posts, and pages.

How often you go through the above steps depends on how often you add content to your site and when updates are required. The more often you add content, the more often it would behoove you to backup. So get the above in place, and if you ever have to go through the grief of having to restore your site, you'll be glad you did!

Some folks find the above a bit too hairy, complicated, or time-consuming. No worries, you can subscribe to my White Glove WordPress Support program, and I'll handle all this for you!

At your service,

Judith: WordPress Consultant and Coach