There are a lot of different methods you can use to backup your WordPress website, but if you like simplicity and automation, there are only two that matter. Rather than blather on with a long list of plugins or instructions for using phpMyAdmin or cpanel, just buck up, choose one of these and sleep easy at night knowing your website is backed up.
Option #1 – VaultPress
VaultPress is a service from Automattic — the people behind WordPress.com, Akismet and many other fine products and services. Although it’s still in beta, it wasn’t difficult for me to get on the list. I submitted my email, and within a few days received my “golden ticket.” Ironic how “you win!” translates to “you get the privilege to pay us!”
At any rate, once you’ve setup your VaultPress account and billing — that’s right, it’s not free — you install a plugin on your site. The service a commercial service tied to a monthly subscription. I’m using it on a couple of my websites and pay $15 per month, per site. Yes, it’s a steep option if you’re just dabbling, but if you run a business on WordPress, it’s a small price to pay. Pony up $40 a month and they add real-time security monitoring.
For that fee, VaultPress continuously monitors your site for any changes, and automatically and transparently backs it up. A change to the database (including comments to a post) or a new page or media upload — any change triggers the backup. And the backup is intelligent enough to do it all in increments, meaning one little change won’t trigger a full backup of the entire website.
Option #2 – BackupBuddy
BackupBuddy is a commercial plug-in with a one-time cost of $45 for up to two sites with volume license options for people with up to 10 or even more. BackupBuddy installs as a plugin, and then you can configure it to create either a full backup (database + files) or a database-only backup. You can run backups on demand, or schedule recurring backups. And you can download the backup to your local computer, or configure BackupBuddy to send automatically send it to another server via FTP, email or Amazon S3.
But if you develop websites, there’s another reason to use BackupBuddy. It makes transferring a site from server to server (like from your development server to production) drop-dead simple. I know people who have even done this from their iPhone — it’s that easy. Definitely worth it for smaller sites that just want peace of mind or developers who want to simplify their lives.
What are the differences between BackupBuddy and VaultPress? As mentioned before, VaultPress watches for any changes to your site and then automatically and incrementally backs up those changes. BackupBuddy basically does backups (full or database only) either on demand or on a predefined schedule. Your configuration and choice is going to depend on your tolerance for risk. If you backup the site once each day, it’s possible that you could lose some changes, but no more than 24 hours worth. For most sites, this is probably a reasonable trade-off.
Bonus Feature – Amazon S3
I’m feeling generous tonight, so I’m throwing in a bonus for free. Sign-up for Amazon S3. Amazon Simple Storage Service — or simply Amazon S3 — is storage in the cloud, and it’s damn cheap. No, it’s not free, but for a site like this, I can store a complete backup for literally pennies per month. Couple that with BackupBuddy and you can automate the entire process.
I have heard about Amazon S3 for a long time, but was reluctant to try it because it sounded complicated. It’s not. If you can manage a WordPress site, you can manage an Amazon S3 account.
While I was writing this post, I signed up for Amazon S3, activated my account, configured BackupBuddy to send the backup to S3, completed a backup and verified that it was transferred. It was so simple and so painless that I was kicking myself for not doing so sooner.