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Backup, Restore, Clone and Migrate with BackupBuddy – Part 1 – WordPress Backup Basics

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Well good morning everybody and welcome to this live seminar on how to use BackupBuddy to clone, backup, restore and migrate your site.

Multiple Uses of BackupBuddy

What I’m going to teach today can be used for a number of things. The very first thing it can be used for, of course, is to backup your site and restore it in case of a disaster. But in fact, I use it most often for creating, cloning, and copying sites. So for example, every time I create a new lesson, I copy the lesson that I just finished, copy that site and then I migrate it to another subdomain for the next lesson.

I also use it for client sites and we’re going to see an example of that this morning where we develop the client site on a development server and then we transfer it to their live server once the development has been completed.

Those of you who are working on Thesis 2 can use this to clone your existing site, set up a development server or development subdomain to develop on and then transfer what you’ve done on the development subdomain back over to your live site. So it has a lot of different uses, not the least of which is backing up and restoring your site in the midst of a crisis. And we’re going to start with that.

BackupBuddy Updates

Now, long time participants here will note that we have a whole bunch of videos on the site about how to do this. But BackupBuddy has changed a fair bit since we did those last year and it has a couple of nice features especially for migrating that it didn’t have in the past. And so we’re going to be talking about some of those features here this morning as well.

Backing Up WordPress Sites

But before we get too far into it, what we want to do is just talk about some of the WordPress backup basics. And you really have to start there by understanding where WordPress stores its information. WordPress stores its information in a combination of database and of WordPress files.

Now if you’re familiar with regular old HTML websites, you are familiar with files containing the information that shows up on a page. So you end up with a page of say, your homepage. And your homepage information is on your homepage file.

The Database and Files

But WordPress is not that way. For the most part, all of the content that shows up on your site is actually inside the database and the files are just files that tell the database what to do with the information. And so most of your critical information is contained inside of the database.

That’s not to say that the files aren’t important because the files are absolutely important for many different reasons. Some of them are for customization and some of them are, for example, media that you add to your media library. Those get stored as files in your file system. So those are the things that you also need to backup. But really, a backup and restore strategy requires you to backup and restore both things, both the database and the file system.

And so I just want to reiterate, the database contains all of your pages, all of your posts, addresses of all of your images, all of your plugin and theme options, all of your WordPress options, all that kind of stuff sits in the database. And the files are like your plugin files, your theme files, your customization files and then uploads and upgrades. So that’s how all of the stuff fits together that WordPress uses and stores. And that’s everything you’re going to need to backup.

Recommendations for Choosing a Backup Plugin

So when you’re choosing a backup plugin, I suggest the following criteria. First, that the backup needs to be set so it can happen automatically. A backup that does not require you to do anything once you’ve set it up but periodically, whether it’s weekly or daily or monthly or hourly, it performs the backup without your intervention.

Secondly, that it’s selective so that sometimes, you can backup your entire site and sometimes, you can just backup the database. You need to be able to schedule both of those kinds of backups.

Third, that it will send your backups to a remote storage location. Really, if you store all your backups on your website, it has a way of slowing down your site. And the reason is because your site is now storing all that information and your web server is operating, it has consider all of that stuff when it’s running.

And so it would be better for you not to store all of your backup files on your website. A remote destination is something like Amazon S3 or a Dropbox account or some other FTP location. But you want your plugin to be able to automatically send your backups to a remote storage location.

And then finally, it needs to be easy to recover. I mean, I’ve done this so many times now that it’s old hat but I remember the first time I had to restore my site from a backup. It was a very tense process and in the midst of that tension, it’s easy to make mistakes. It’s easy to feel like the problem is big and difficult to accomplish. And so the restore system needs to be really simple, straightforward and easy to execute. And that’s why I recommend BackupBuddy.

Why We Recommend BackupBuddy

Obviously, BackupBuddy costs money and there are lots of potential backup solutions out there that don’t cost as much or don’t cost money. But BackupBuddy is, by far, the best backup solution out there and it is reliable. It works every time. It is easy to negotiate. It has great support. It’s constantly being upgraded and updated. It is really an outstanding product.

If you don’t own BackupBuddy today and you don’t want to just go out and buy BackupBuddy today, for those people who are participating today, you can send me an email and I will be glad to send you an evaluation copy of BackupBuddy. It’s the latest release of BackupBuddy.

You won’t be able to get any support from their site with this and you won’t be able to get any updates with it. But it will be fully functional and will continue to be fully functional. And so you’re welcome to have an evaluation copy to see whether or not this is something you actually want to use. All you have to do is send me an email at and I will send you a copy for you to test and try. I’m pretty confident that once you’ve tested this, you’ll want to use it. But if you don’t, it’s no big deal.

Understanding Where WP Site Files are Located

Okay, the 3rd thing to say under a WordPress backup basics is that it’s absolutely essential that you understand where your site files are located. Really, if you look at your C Panel and the file manager there and you are confused by what you see, you’re not going to be able to do this well. You need to be able to understand exactly where your WordPress files are located. So I’m going to show you.

We’re going to log in to one of my Bluehost account here and this one’s actually a complicated one which is why I’m going to start there because some of you are going to have more than one WordPress site in the same hosting account and that can make it seem a little bit more complex.

So here we are in my hosting account and if we go to the file manager, all of your web server files are inside of public html so you have to start there. And now if you look at this, you can see I’ve got a whole bunch of different folders. I’m going to scroll down. I’ve got a ton of folders. I got a bunch of files and it’s absolutely critical that you are capable of looking at this and knowing where your website is.

Public HTML Folder

So if you are working on the root of your website – we’re going to be working on This is a site we’re going to work on, That is the Bluehost account that I’m logged into. I am logged into so we’re working on a site that is the primary domain for my hosting account. And in that case, generally, the files for WordPress that are for your primary domain are contained directly inside of public HTML.

WordPress Files and Folders

We’re going to start off by looking in a subdomain because I want you to see what the WordPress files are without a lot of confusion. WordPress files consists of the folder, wp admin, the folder wp content, the folder wp includes and then all of these additional files. That’s it down here.

So anything that starts with wp is a standard WordPress file, index php is licensed text, Read Me html, default html. These are all standard WordPress files that were created when you installed WordPress.

Now I actually happen to have two other folders in this directory that are not standard WordPress files. I have import buddy which was created in the process of migrating this site and I have cgi bin which is automatically added to the domain when I create the subdomain.

So Bluehost automatically adds cgi bin, 400 shtml, 401 shtml, 403 shtml, 404 shtml and 500 shtml. These things are automatically added to your site when you create the subdomain. So they are not part of the WordPress installation. WordPress installation is wp admin, wp content, wp includes and then the majority of the files inside of your site.

Now as a practical matter, you can go ahead and consider all of these files, files that you should back up because it’s irrelevant whether or not you know that the 400 shtml is a WordPress file or not. But in any case, the WordPress file system is wp admin, wp content, wp includes and all these files.

Working in your Primary Domain

Secondly, if you are working in your primary domain which in this case is byobtutorial, you may have a whole bunch of other folders in your site because each of these folders represents either an add on domain or a subdomain. And so I have all of these add on domains and subdomains in this site.

Then I come all the way down here to the bottom and here is wp admin, wp content, wp includes. And then zip files and all of my WordPress files. So if you’re working in your primary domain then you are working directly inside of public html and that’s where all your files are located.

Chyna just asked me, “What is a root domain?” I misspoke before. What’s important for you to understand here is that in most hosts, your primary domain is the domain that your hosting account is for. Those files are located directly inside of public html. And so the whole root domain thing is irrelevant. Don’t worry about that.

Multiple Domains or Subdomains

The thing to know is that has all of its WordPress files directly inside of public html. But has all of its files inside of this folder called backup demo. That’s what’s going on here. So if you have multiple domains and multiple subdomains in a single hosting account, you can have lots of folders in your public html folder but your WordPress files and folders are still these same ones, wp admin, wp content and wp includes.

So your add on domains and your subdomains behave the same essentially. They are a subdirectory or a subfolder inside of your public html and inside that subfolder are all of the WordPress files. So it can be fairly easy to find them if it’s in a subdomain or a subdirectory.

If You Only Have One Domain

Now if you’ve got one domain in that hosting account then it’s really simple. It looks essentially like this. It’s only going to have these three folders, maybe have a couple of others. But these are the WordPress folders and then it’s going to have this set of files in it.

And the critical thing here to know is you need to be able to know where your files for your site are. So if you don’t know where the files for your site are, open up your control panel in your host and look and see if you can figure this out.

If you have any question about it, take a screenshot, post a question on the forum saying, for this website, where are my WordPress files? And I’ll be glad to explain it to you in the forum as well because this part of it is critical and it’s something that people skip over because they assume you know where your files go. And I’ve discovered recently a number of people who just did not know where their files were and didn’t understand their file structure.

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