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Lesson 14 – Part 4 – How to Backup your Site Automatically

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Best Tool For the Job: BackupBuddy

Now we’ll discuss how to backup your site automatically. The first thing I would like to say is that really, the best tool for this job is BackupBuddy. There are lots of pretenders to BackupBuddy and there are lots of products that say they’re as good as BackupBuddy are are a little cheaper.

I know from personal first hand experience that nobody competes with BackupBuddy. I used to spend a lot of money every month on backups that did not work as well as BackupBuddy backups do. And so my advice is to use BackupBuddy to back your site up. And I’m just going to show you how easy it is to back this up.

How To Backup Your Site With BackupBuddy

First I’m going to show you how easy it is to back the site up. You just come over here to backup and this is how easy it is to do a manual backup. And all you have to do is say complete backup. You click it and your entire database is backed up. All of your files are backed up and it’s stored in a place that’s easily accessible. And in a moment, we’ll see that it’s done.

So there it is, back to backups and you can download this or you could just leave it on your web server. That’s how slick BackupBuddy is.

And restoring from that is really where it really shines and it’s almost as easy as that to restore it. So if you want to learn more about how to use BackupBuddy, I encourage you to search the site for BackupBuddy. You’ll find that I have a lot of videos on how to use BackupBuddy for this kind of thing.

Free Backup Systems

So let’s say you don’t want to spend the $50 to buy BackupBuddy and you want to try a free system. The problem with that is that backup plugins come and go. Early on I taught one system. And then when I taught the Thesis version of this class this spring, I taught the Easy Peasy one click backup. But neither of those plugins are available any longer and neither of them will do the job for you now.

One of the nice things about BackupBuddy is since it’s a paid plugin and they’re making money selling it, they’re going to stay in business and keep on developing it. And that’s a problem with the free plugins.

Criteria to Determine if a Backup Plugin is Right For Your Site

But I do have a set of criteria that I use for judging whether or not a plugin is the right plugin to use.


The first thing is it has to be able to be automatic. That is you have to be able to set up a schedule for it to do its backup and for it to automatically do that on that schedule. If it’s not automatic, it’s not going to be done often enough. So it should be automatic.


The second thing is that it should be selective. That is, it should be able to backup 100% of your site, so not just database, not just files, not just your wp content folder. But it should be able to back up absolutely everything and it should also be able to select specific parts so that you can do for example, only a database backup. Because really, it’s the database that changes the most often.

And so if you’re going to have an automatic system, you should do your database backup more regularly than your entire site backup. So you want to be able to selective about the scheduling.

Sends Backups to Remote Storage

And then the 3rd thing I think is really important is that it sends those backups to remote storage. Now BackupBuddy can be configured to store in a number of locations and I have it configured so that it goes to a storage location in my Amazon S3 account.

But a lot of people don’t have Amazon S3 accounts. And it’s a little more complicated to have an Amazon S3 account than it is to have a say, a Dropbox account. And so I think a plugin should be able to, at a minimum, deliver the backups to your Dropbox account, if nothing else.

Now if you don’t know what Dropbox is, you should go do a little search for Dropbox and sign up a free account for yourself and see what you can do with Dropbox. We use Dropbox extensively in this office for sharing files between everybody in the office and then sharing files with clients and friends. And I can share some files with members that way as well. Dropbox is a very useful tool and it’s a great way to have a remote location to store your backups.

Currently Available WordPress Backup Plugins

So having said that, one of your options is BackupBuddy. You don’t have a whole bunch of other options. Let’s go over to WordPress for a second and go to Plugins. And I’m going to search for Backup and Dropbox. Now that returns 14 plugins in this result. And there really is only one plugin that I feel comfortable recommending out of these 14 and there are only two that actually meet the definition that I described that is automatic, selective, can send the backups to a remote storage.

So for example, WordPress backup to Dropbox, it’s not automatic. You can pay for a premium thing to add to it and it can become automatic. But otherwise, it’s not automatic. Drop in Dropbox is not really a backup system. You can use it as a backup system but you can use it also as a way of taking any file or folder from your site and storing it in your Dropbox. So it only meets one part of the criteria and it’s not really a backup thing.

WordPress SQL Backup does exactly what it says. It does your database backup and it actually has a limited file backup ability also. But it won’t backup your entire site. So again, it doesn’t meet the criteria.

XM Backup doesn’t have an automatic backup system. So then you have Snapshot Backup and Snapshot Backup lets you do it but if you want it to be automatic then it costs you something.

SME Storage Multi Cloud WordPress Backup, again, requires you to pay for an account in order for it to export off of the site. It’ll create backup files and stick them on your hosting account just fine. But it won’t, unless you pay for it, export the backup.

Back WP Up is the plugin that we’re going to talk about tonight. This is excellent for it. Cloud Safe is another example of a premium plugin where in order to get the functionality that you want, you’ll still have to pay money for it.

Manage WP Worker is not really a backup plugin. It’s really a for a fee service for managing your WordPress sites. Press Backup is also a for a fee service and if you pay them the fee then you can have all the things that you want. But their fees are higher than BackupBuddy so I wouldn’t bother.

WP Time Machine goes directly to Amazon S3 but it does not actually go to backup or Dropbox. And it also only backs up your wp content so it can’t back up all of your files.

And then Infinite WP client again doesn’t really do backup in that way and it’s really related to managing multiple WordPress sites. So there’s really very little out there that meets my criteria.

Using Back WP Up to Backup Your Site

And the one thing that does is this Back WP Up so this is the one we’re going to use. Now it’s pretty highly rated and it’s had like 363,000 downloads. So you know, it’s probably a good choice.

We are going to come back over here to our site to SBYWH final. And we’re going to come over to plugins and add new. Let’s search for Back WP Up and we’re going to install it and then activate the plugin. Okay and here it is, Back WP Up. It’s got a menu over here. Let’s close that for a second.

Set the Settings

So we come over here to our menu. We’re going to start off by going to the settings. And so it’s going to send an email when a backup is done. And it’s going to be sent from me and it’ll be sent to the admin on the site. This is the name that’s going to be in there. This is the mail method. There are other choices you can make.

It’s going to place a log in this location so public html sbywh final agency wp content backup bc77 logs. That’s where it is. It’s going to maintain a maximum of 50 log files and then it will delete them as new ones come along.

Here’s where you can set the number of retries for each step inside of a job and here’s the way you can set the number of retries for the script itself.

You can also use this php zip class if your PCL zip is not available on your server. Really, there’s not much reason for you to manage any of these at this moment unless you have a problem with it.

Compatibility with Hosting Companies

This works out of the box in Bluehost so you’re going to be fine with this in most hosts. To the extent that you can’t, you might have to put some user authentication in here, like a username and password for WordPress or your username and password for your ftp. What it probably would be is your username and password for ftp for some people.

And then this gives you Back WP Up links in the admin bar which sits up here like this.

Scheduling Your Backups

Let’s go to Jobs, you’re going to see there are no backup jobs created. And there are no logs, there are no backups. None of these stuff has happened yet because we don’t really have anything here, right? So we’re going to come to Add New Job and let’s give this new job a name. We’re going to call this one weekly database backup. And this is going to be just a database backup so we don’t click files here.

And then down here, we can set up our schedules. So we’re going to activate scheduling on this and with the advanced, you have a few more choices but we’re just going to use basic. And we’re going to say we want to do this weekly on Sundays at 3 o’clock in the morning. That’s what’s happening here. So we’re going to do a database backup every Sunday morning at 3 am.

Set the Location for Backup Storage

And then this section here is where you tell it where you want the backups to go. So you could set up a folder on your host to store your backups. If your backups are small enough, you could have them emailed to you. You could have them ftp-ed someplace but what we’re going to do here is we’re going to have them back up to our Dropbox.

The way you backup to Dropbox is really, you just have to hit authenticate and it’s asking for you to allow it and that’s it. I mean, as long as you have a Dropbox account and you’re signed in to your Dropbox account, that’s all that’s required. You might need to sign in to your Dropbox account as well.

And then what you want to do is specify the folder here. I’ll show you where I have my Dropbox account. In my Dropbox account, I’ve got this folder called backups so I’m going to use that folder here, backups.

There’s SugarSync that you could use and you can back up to an Amazon S3 storage or to Google storage or to Microsoft Azure or to Rackspace Cloud. So there’s a whole bunch of different ways that you can… or different online system that you can use to backup. But we’re going to use the Dropbox in this case.

Email Reminders

So we’re going to send a log file here. Now right now it’s checked only to send me an email only if there are errors but I really want to be reminded. So I want any kind of an email to be sent to me.

Blog Maintenance Mode

And then I forgot to say right here, what I want to do is set the blog maintenance mode on the database operation so that it doesn’t take very long to do this backup system. And so rather than have the possibility of a database interference during the backup, when the backup starts, it puts the blog in the maintenance mode in a few seconds. And then once the backup is done, it goes off of maintenance mode.

Set Monthly Automatic Full Backup

We’ll go ahead and hit the save changes here and then we’re going to set up a monthly automatic full backup. So we’ll say add new again and now this is monthly full backup. This is going to be a database backup and a file backup. And since we saved files, now we have files to back up.

And what it does is it runs out there and looks for all the folders that are out there that we might want to back up or might want to exclude. And so it says, “Okay well, do you want to exclude something from the backup?” Well, in the root, I’m going to exclude CGI bin. We don’t need to back that up.

In content, I’m not going to exclude anything in wp content. In plugins, I could choose to exclude something in plugins and you can exclude them all by simply clicking that but I’m not going to do that.

The same thing is true with themes. I could decide that there are some themes here that I don’t want to back up. And I could decide that there are some uploads inside of wp uploads… or inside of uploads that I don’t want to do. So for example, I could choose not to back up BackupBuddy backups. So I could exclude all of my BackupBuddy folders here.

Now the chances are, you don’t have any BackupBuddy folders. And when we say blog uploads, what we’re talking about is this section right here, this right here, uploads. That is the blog uploads and so BackupBuddy backups, BackupBuddy temp, those are the folders that it sees that we’re choosing not to backup. And then 2012 is the Media Library for 2012 and we’re going to back all that up. So those are the only things we’re going to exclude.

And then here, we’re going to do this monthly and I think I’m really going to do it monthly on the first. And again, at 3 o’clock in the morning and we’re going to zip this up. I want to send myself an email and then I’m going to set up the Dropbox here. So again, authenticate and allow. And now, it’ll automatically be sent there. And again, I want to send it to backups. I could have chosen a different system.

And I could have just as easily chosen to send this backup someplace else. I didn’t have to go to Dropbox. It could have gone to Amazon S3 for example. But in this case, I’m going to put it in the Dropbox as well. We have that whole thing set up. We’re just going to hit save changes.

And now, if we come over and look at our jobs, we have two jobs specified here. We’ve got our weekly database backup and we’ve got our monthly full backup.

Activate Scheduling

Now for spot backups, let’s say you want to do a backup right now of your database or backup right now of this, you can see it’s 40 MB in size here. What you can do is… next run inactive. You know what? I don’t think that got saved. I can see the next run is this and this is… it’s inactive. Let’s go back and edit our monthly full backup because I think something happened. Oh, I forgot to activate scheduling. That’s what it was. Now hit save changes, come back over to jobs and now you see the next time it’s going to run is October 1st. This one’s going to run on September 16th.

Spot Backup

And if I want to do a spot backup, all I really have to do is come over here and hover over that and say “Run now”. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to run now. And so this shows you everything that happened during that run. And so the job took two seconds and the backup is transferred or being transferred to this location in the Dropbox. If we open up my Dropbox, well let’s give it a chance to get there.

If we look at our logs, now we can see, here is a log so the status was okay, 87.35 kilobytes. If we view it, we can essentially see that same thing we were looking at before. And we can also download it directly from here if we wish. Then if we come over to our backups, again we just see our backup jobs. So this is pretty much the same as this, right?

And so now if we take a look at our Dropbox folder again and go into backups, here is the one that I just did. This was at 5:49 this afternoon which was… it’s 5:51 now and this is the backup 1 2012 09 and there you go.

Now if you do a bunch of these, you could actually come over here to jobs and edit this and give it a different backup prefix. So it could be weekly database or it could be weekly database SBYWH final, right? And so you get more descriptive names in your file prefix.

And that concludes how to use Back WP Up for WordPress. It’s a great plugin for backing up. It meets all of my criteria. And if you can’t afford or don’t wish to afford BackupBuddy then I think it’s a perfectly acceptable solution. And I hope that it stays around for a long time.

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