This post is applicable only for self hosted WordPress blogs. Blogs hosted on WordPress.com can give it a skip
There are various ways to backup your blog’s WordPress database and in this post I will tell you the best ways to take a complete backup of your WordPress database. I will also show you different ways to automate this backup and upload the database someplace else (FTP server, email, Dropbox or a cloud account)
Backing up the database at regular intervals is very important, since the database is the core of your website. If you lose the files, you can always replace them back by downloading WordPress’s core files from the WordPress.org website. However, if the database is lost or damaged, you will end up losing all the content, which will result in the loss of all your hard work which you had put to build your site.
Here are some of the best ways to take a complete back of your WordPress database
This is by far the best way to download an accurate copy of your site’s database, no matter which content management system it uses. I always take a manual backup from phpmyadmin before I perform any critical database related operation on the site and there is a reason why I would recommend backing up database from Phpmyadmin.
The reason is, phpmyadmin gives you the most accurate copy of the database which no third party plugin can. Of course, third party plugins will help you backup and restore the database smoothly without doing all the hard work but the backup you download from phpmyadmin is by far the most accurate one (both in terms of structure and data). If you download a full database backup from phpmyadmin, be rest assured that the data which you have backed-up is accurate and can be restored without any problem.
There is a small catch though. You must take note of the size of the database and the size of the backup and tally it to check to see if both are the same. Sometimes, if the database size is large enough and if you are on a shared hosting provider, the backup which you download may not be complete and only partial. This could happen when your web host times out the request or the file size is too large. In those scenarios, it helps to first optimize the database, clean up the junk and then download the backup.
You can access PHPMyadmin from your hosting account control panel (cPanel). Once you are inside the PHPMyadmin, select the database from the left sidebar and then go to the “Export” tab. Choose the “SQL” format and then click on the “Go” button to download the database backup as an SQL file.
One of the other advantages of using PHPmyadmin is that you wouldn’t be depending on plugins or scripts for the Database backup and you will be more familiar with in built tools that ships straight out of your cPanel. This will help you gain knowledge of how Databases work in cPanel and you can pretty much backup any database which you use, not just the database of your WordPress site. Tomorrow, if you build a web application using frameworks such as Codeigniter, you will be able to use Phpmyadmin at ease.
Downside: The downside of PHPMyadmin is that you cannot automate the backup or store the backup in any remote server. You will have to do it manually all the time.
WordPress Plugins For Backing Up WordPress Database
If PhpMyadmin seems too geeky for you, there are lot of WordPress database plugins which you can use to backup WordPress database on a regular basis.
Wp-DB manager – By far the most popular WordPress plugin for database backup and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants complete control on his WordPress database backup. Wp-DB manager let’s you download your website’s database to a folder in your website e.g www.yoursite.com/wp-content/backup-db/.
The plugin will automatically gZip the database and perform a daily backup of the database in that folder. You can also Empty or DROP tables and perform maintenance related tasks.The Plugin also let’s you manage the backups directly from your administration panel, you can delete old backups, empty the backup folder and perform a fresh backup whenever required. If you want to email the backup file to an email address of yours, you can configure that setting as well.
Downside: The downside of this plugin is that is stores the backup files in the same server where you site is hosted. In the event of an accident where you lose control of the server, you will lose control of the backup files as well and will not be able to restore the site in another web server. Hence the original purpose of backing up the database will be defeated in this case.
WpProKing Database Backup – This is my favorite WordPress plugin which lets me backup the database to another remote server of my choice or to my Dropbox account. I use this to backup the database to my DropBox account. You can schedule daily, weekly and monthly database backups which will either be stored in your web hosting server or it can also be uploaded to a remote server of your choice through (FTP/SFTP)
Vaultpress: Vaultpress is one of the most reliable and easy to use backup solution for WordPress which not only backups your database and files but also lets you do a full restore if something goes wrong. It is a paid solution and you will need to shell out at least $5 a month. If you have multiple sites to backup, you can opt for the professional or premium plans which offers more back-up options e.g real time backups, unlimited backup archives and automated restores. Head over to the plans page to learn more.
If you want a reliable backup solution for WordPress and don’t mind paying a few bucks for it, go for this one. Once you have set it up, the backup’s will be taken care of and you will have complete peace of mind since they will take the responsibility to backup your website and database on a daily basis and there is nothing that you need to do on your side.
I personally use Vaultpress on a couple of sites I own and I highly recommend them since once you have taken their subscription, there is practically nothing that you need to do going forward. They backup your website on a daily basis and you can restore the backup in one click from Vaultpress administration console.
Downside: No downside but the only catch is that it’s not free.
There are few more premium plugins which does all the heavy lifting for you. For example, there is BackupBuddy which covers all the features but none of the premium plugins I found is a cheaper alternative of Vaultpress mentioned above. Either it is costlier or it does not cover all the requirements to the finest detail.
You can search WordPress Plugin directory for new plugins which let’s you backup and restore your site’s database but I would stick to either PHPmyadmin for manual backup’s, Wp-DB manager for automatic daily backups, Wp-Proking for daily backups to another FTP server and finally Vaultpress for effortless backup with nothing to monitor about.
Do you have a special preference for WordPress database backup solutions? What difficulties have you faced during backup’s? Do let us know in the comments below so I can cover those scenarios in the post which would in turn help the community going forward.