How To Backup Your Website

Backing up your website can be overwhelming, especially for those of you who are not familiar with how website files work and the thought of where to start makes you want to cry (or throw your computer).  I’m going to try to make it as easy to understand as possible for you.

There are several ways of backing up your website and not every option is available to all of you.  It all depends on what type of website you have.

WordPress Website Backup


For:  People that have websites that are built on a WordPress platform

In a nutshell:  You will be downloading a plugin that will backup the files for you

How to backup your website

  1. Login to your WordPress admin and navigate to Plugins
  2. Click on Add New button at the top
  3. Search for BackUpWordpress (all one word)
  4. Hit Install, which will only be a moment and then you will see a link to Activate Plugin
  5. Now your plugin is installed and activated, navigate to Tools > Backups
  6. Click on the link Settings and note that there are different settings that allow the plugin to schedule backups for you automatically or manually
  7. Make sure your backup is set to Both Database and Files
  8. Add your email if you want a notification and click on Run Now when you’re ready
  9. You will see your backups listed in this section.  Make sure you download and put it on a file on your computer for safe-keeping

Control Panel Website Backup


For:  Anyone that can access their control panel via their web host

In a Nutshell:  You will need to login to your control panel that your web host gave you when you purchased your website hosting with them

How to backup your website

  1. Instructions for this is a bit tricky, as every control panel with each web host looks different (snapshot above is from my web host, HostGator and may not reflect the screen you see when you login to yours)
  2. Login to your web host’s control panel
  3. Try to look for options that suggest:  Backups, Backup Wizard, Files, etc.
  4. If in doubt, access your web host’s help section and type in “website backup” to follow their instructions

FTP Website Backup


For:  (Advanced option)  People that need to backup basic files, such as PHP, HTML, CSS, etc.  (Please note that this option does not allow you to backup your database – if you have one – which is separate from your website files.  To backup your database, you will need to login to your web host’s control panel and find their “MySQL” option.  You will see your databases listed there.)

In a Nutshell:  FTP is a way of connecting to your website server, by use of software, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Filezilla, and even some web hosts control panel have an FTP connect option.  You will need to access the your web files through the FTP and manually download them yourself.

  1. You will need to know your website’s:  FTP Address, Username, Password, and Root Directory.  When in doubt, just call or email your web host and ask them for your “FTP credentials”
  2. Use a software that allows you to connect to your website via FTP, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Filezilla, or login to your web host’s control panel to see if they have an FTP option. (Check their help files, if you are unsure here)
  3. Once you access the FTP, download all the files you see on your server and put it in a folder on your computer, for safe-keeping

Why are backing up files important?

Backing up your website files are really important.  If your website ever crashes, you have a backup.  If your WordPress plugins automatically update and break something on your website, you have a backup.  If something wonky goes on with your web host and your site disappears, you have a backup.  I think you get the gist!

How often should you backup your website files?

Well that depends on how often you update your website.  If you never do, at least do a backup once a year to be safe.  If it’s occasional, perhaps quarterly and if you’re blogging and adding new information on a regular basis, it should be once a week.

Too overwhelming to understand?

I hope this was helpful to some of you.  If any of this is overwhelming or you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle, I would recommend paying a Web Developer to oversee the backups for you. If you want to learn how to do it yourself and just can’t seem to figure it out on your own – no matter how many articles you read online – pay a Web Developer to do the backups once and ask them to email you instructions on how it’s done.  They should be able to send you a simple step-by-step list that is customized to your setup.

Now go and give your website backup a try!

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