How to Set Up Daily Website Backups – the Right Way

Daily backups are one of the fundamental tools every website owner should have in their toolbox. Not only will it let you fix your mistakes by letting you restore a backup copy of the site, and gives you a quick way to rescue your site when it gets hacked, but it also gives you a way to repair a site should some piece of code spontaneously decide to crash your site.

All this is true, and yet Hopper only knows why daily backups are not de rigueur with most WordPress hosting companies. Sure, a few companies such as WP Engine and SiteGround do offer daily backups as a standard feature, but most do not.

I handle daily backups for all the sites I host and for all the clients I work with.

I’d love to take care of your site for you, but in the meantime why don’t I share the back up tool I use with WordPress sites, and explain how you can install it.

Note: This post only applies to self-hosted WordPress sites, and not sites hosted on WordPressDotCom. If your site is on WordPressDotCom, you don’t really have any backup options (that should worry you, yes).

Note: Please let me know if any of this is unclear so I can explain and then fix the post.

My preferred backup tool is called ManageWP. It’s a Godaddy product that is designed to let techs like me manage multiple WordPress sites from a single dashboard. It has dozens of features, most of which I don’t use. I really just use it for backing up and updating WP sites.

I use ManageWP over other backup plugins because the backups are stored elsewhere. The last month’s worth of backups are kept, giving me many options should I need to restore a site.

It will cost you $2 per month to have ManageWP run daily backups of your site. (Unless your site is hosted by Godaddy, in which case this is free.) I think it’s worth the money for two reasons: you don’t have to remember to do it and the backups are stored elsewhere (they don’t take space on your hosting account, and are beyond the reach of any hacker that gains control of your site).

The first step to setting up backups is to create an account on ManageWP.com. You will need to provide your email, and you should go ahead and give them your billing info so that when you do activate backups, you can simply click the green button and get started right away.

Once you have your ManageWP account set up, open a second browser tab, and visit your site’s admin pages.

The second step involves installing the ManageWP plugin on your WordPress site. Navigate to the Install Plugin menu on your WordPress site, and enter “ManageWP” into the search box. Find the ManageWP plugin in the search results, and click the “Install plugin” button. Then click “Activate” button.

This screenshot should help you understand what I am talking about:

If everything works out the way it is supposed to, the plugin menu will load and you will be shown a banner notice that says something about ManageWP.

The third step is to switch back to the ManageWP browser tab, and click the little plus symbol in the upper left corner of the screen. Select the “Add website” option from the dropdown.

This will bring up a new menu where you will need to enter your website’s domain into the box that says URL. (For example, my website’s domain is https://the-digital-reader.com .)

Next, click the green “Add website” button.

If you did everything right, you should see a new menu that asks you to enter the username and password you use with the site.

If you know your username and password, go ahead and type them in and click the “Add website” button again. (It’s okay if you don’t know what your username is; not everyone uses them to log into their WordPress site.)

If you don’t know your username for your website, click on the “Use connection key instead” link. This is what I usually use, in fact.

What you need to do next is switch back to the browser tab where you have your site’s plugin menu open. Scroll down the page to find the entry for the ManageWP plugin. Click on the link that says “Connection Management”, and then when the pop-up menu appears, click the blue “Copy” button to copy the highlighted key code.

Switch back the the ManageWP browser tab, and paste the key code into the box. Then press the green “Add website” button.

 

It will take a few minutes for ManageWP to connect to your site. If everything works the way it is supposed to, it will show you a message saying that your site has been added to your account.

Great! Now we need to go turn on the backup feature.  Find the symbol in the upper left corner of the screen that is third from the top, and click. This should take you to a new menu where your site’s name and domain is displayed in a box. Click your site’s name.

This will take you to the menu where you can enable backups. Scroll down, and click the green “Activate Backups” button. Then, in the pop up menu, click the green “Activate” button on the right. (If you click the button on the left, you will activate the once a month backup, which we do not want.) Click the green button to confirm.

If everything worked, you should be moved to another menu which displays a message saying your first backup is in process.

From here on out ManageWP will continue to make daily backups of your site so long as they can bill you. You don’t have to worry about a thing.

P.S. Now that you have ManageWP handling backups for one site, why not add your other sites as well? It’s only two bucks per month per site, a price I am willing to pay for the convenience.  (And once you have all your sites added, you can use ManageWP to update all the sites all at once!)

P.P.S. If any of this was unclear, please let me know so I can explain, and then fix the post.

image by Got Credit via Flickr

7 Comments

  1. S. J. Pajonas15 October, 2020

    I use BackupBuddy from iThemes. It’s a yearly fee for the plugin ($127 for 10 sites). Then I have it scheduled to backup a FULL backup twice a week and store them all in an AWS S3 bucket (costs me less than $1/month in storage charges). It’s cheap and reliable and all my backups are off-site. After doing the math, this all costs me $0.38 a day. So that’s another alternative. It’s what I set up for all of my freelance clients.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Dee15 October, 2020

      Same idea, different package for me. I use UpdraftPlus to S3. As you said, cheap and reliable. Only downside is that if your site doesn’t get much traffic, it might not run on the schedule that you want it on. But with a regularly accessed site, it’s fine.

      Reply
    2. Nate Hoffelder15 October, 2020

      Good suggestion, but it might be more than most people can do.

      Reply
      1. Chuck Dee15 October, 2020

        It’s not as daunting as it seems, at least not with updraftplus. There are also other alternatives of backup locations that are a lot easier, such as dropbox, google drive, and onedrive. The list of options for backup locations can be seen at https://updraftplus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/storage1.png

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder15 October, 2020

          Okay, but I still like being able to manage all my sites from one dashboard. The convenience is worth it.

          Reply
          1. Chuck Dee15 October, 2020

            My plan is always towards diversification of points of failure. Though with everyone jumping on the S3 bandwagon, it’s becoming harder and harder.

            Reply
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