Don’t get caught without a backup of your WordPress website

Backups, backups, backups! How many times have you heard that you need to make backups? Yet still many people don’t. Here is a step by step guide to backing up your WordPress website to ensure you can recover from problems.

What problems could you have with WordPress?

One is hackers and they constantly probe websites looking for security flaws. They try to guess your login details, usernames and passwords for your site, or they use various scripts and tools to access parts they have no business accessing. Once into your site, they can install malware.

Another problem is updates. Updates to WordPress, plugins and themes can cause a variety of issues. These range from completely stopping a site from working to blocking access to the admin side, to less serious, but annoying visual issues with fonts or layout, and so on.

If you have a backup of your site, you can undo the actions of hackers and malware, or updates that went wrong.

Popular backup plugins for WordPress

There are many plugins for WordPress that help with backups and Duplicator, for example, has over one million installs. It is very good, but even the author admits that some technical knowledge is required in order to use it.

A much simpler backup utility and one that is popular with many WordPress users is UpdraftPlus. It is available in free and paid versions, but the free one is probably all you need. It has over one million installs and a near perfect score on the WordPress website.

How to install UpdraftPlus in WordPress

1 Select Plugins in the sidebar and click the Add New button

Add a new plugin to WordPress

2 Enter updraftplus into the Keyword search box

3 Click the Install Now button next to UpdraftPlus

Install the UpdraftPlus plugin in WordPress

4 Click the Activate button to enable it

Choose where to save backups

Where should UpdraftPlus save its backups? It is possible to save backups to the web server and they are stored in a hidden WordPress folder. The problem with this is that if files are corrupted or deleted on on the server, you could lose the backup files.

It is best to store the backups elsewhere and not within WordPress itself. UpdraftPlus supports many storage options and one of the simplest and most convenient is Dropbox.

A lot of people already have Dropbox, but it you don’t, go to and get a free account. You only get a couple of gigabytes of storage space for free, but a WordPress site backup isn’t very big. A backup of a site with 100 posts may be less than 100MB, so 20 backups could fit in the Dropbox free space and only two or three backups are needed for safety.

Configure UpdraftPlus to use Dropbox

1 Click Settings in the sidebar and the click UpdraftPlus Backups.

WordPress sidebar menu

2 Click the Settings tab on the UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore page and then select Dropbox for the remote storage below. (There are many more items than appear in this screenshot.)

Configure the UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin

3 Scroll down the page a bit and make sure all the options are ticked next to Include in files backup.

Files to include in UpdraftPlus WordPress backups

4 When the settings are saved by clicking the button at the very bottom, a message like this appears. You must authorise access to Dropbox for security reasons before UpdraftPlus can save backups there. Click the link provided.

Allow UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin to use Dropbox

5 The web browser automatically opens the Dropbox website and this message appears. Click the Allow button to allow UpdraftPlus access to your online storage.

Allow UpdraftPlus plugin access to Dropbox

6 Complete the setup by clicking the button on the next page.

Authorise UpdraftPlus to access Dropbox for backups

7 Back in WordPress, at the top it will say you have successfully authenticated UpdraftPlus and the available space is shown. Now all you need to do is click the Backup Now button.

Back up WordPress using the UpdraftPlus plugin

8 There is nothing to do when backing up and it shows a progress bar for a minute or two, then it’s done.

WordPress backups created with  UpdraftPlus

This is what it looks like after you have created a few backups.

Create a backup before updating WordPress, plugins or themes. An update for one thing or another seems to come along every few days, so if you do this you will make at least one backup a week.

Should you ever have a serious problem with WordPress, click the Restore button on the most recent backup to put everything back the way it was when the backup was made.