Backing up your blog

Ok, so before I get too far down the road with this blogging thing I thought it might be a good idea to back things up.

Here’s a couple of reasons why:

I’m new to this, I could screw up the blog by implementing a change incorrectly, or heck something could go wrong and I have no idea what caused it on any given day.  By backing up my blog I have a copy of the site and I can restore it to its former glory.  In the same vein, I could accidentally delete my blog or important content.  Having that backup to restore from would come in handy.

I could get hacked.  Yup, the internet can be a dark place with mean people.  If someone wanted to pick on my blog it would be nice to have a backup copy to restore.

Certain backup plugins advertise the ability to help with migrating your blog.  Not that I have any plans to leave bluehost but I may want to self-host my blog some day or move it to another provider.

So what constitutes a “backup?”

As far as I am concerned a backup should only involve backing up your entire site.  I’m not sure why anyone would backup less (perhaps they are constrained by bandwidth or backup storage?), but I’m a newb and I have a lot to learn.  A full backup consists of your WordPress Core, theme, plugin files, database, and media library.

Think about it this way…. your WordPress Core is like the frame/body of your car, without this framework you can’t attach anything to make it look good or function.  This is what a lot of popular web hosting companies install for you when you go through their menu and select a WordPress site to build from their long list of options displaying a variety of things you can do with your web hosting space.  You can also install WordPress Core manually with your web hosting company or you can install it on your home computer if you want to self host.

Your WordPress theme is  the color you paint the frame and the style of the body panels of the car, except all of these aesthetic choices are packaged together to look nice on your WordPress site, not like this:

This doesn't go well together, does it?
This doesn’t go well together, does it?

WordPress plugins are the accessories that help your car function or look better, like a spoiler, some snow tires, maybe even an air freshener.  Lots of plugins you can use to customize your site and bring functionality.

Your database contains all your blog posts, your pages, comments from readers, users, etcetera.  This would be akin to all the stuff you carry around in your car that is personalized to you, including your passengers and anything that has ever been said inside your car.

And finally, I guess your WordPress media library would be all the cool bumper stickers you have and perhaps all the songs you have on a CD or on a USB stick plugged into your stereo.  It’s all the photos, videos, audio clips, etc. you use on your WordPress website.

What are some things to think about when considering a backup plugin?

You can backup these items manually, you can pay for a plugin that does the backup, or you can use a free plugin.  Since I’m new to this I won’t tackle manually backing up things just yet, and since I’m pretty frugal I wasn’t going to pay for it.  So let’s look into what I found as the best free plugin. Here are some considerations:

  • How much data do you need to backup?  I posted on FB to a few WordPress groups and the most I saw for personal blogs was “a couple of GBs.”  With that said, ever free, mainstream cloud storage would be out of the running except for Google drive which gives you 15GB for free.
  • Does the free plugin have any restrictions?  Some plugins are listed as free but you may want a premium feature and have to pay for it.  Maybe it will only backup so much data before you need to pay, excetera.
  • The plugin may be free but require you to purchase file compression software like WinZip to piece together your zipped up archives.
  • Does the free plugin support SFTP or do you have to pay for it?  Secure FTP is a very flexible tool to securely transfer files to some cloud storage destinations or to your personal computer.
  • Will the plugin perform incremental backups or will it use bandwidth and time to upload your entire site every time?
  • Does the free backup plugin perform scheduled backups or does it only do manual ones in the free version?
  • Will the plugin notify via email of the backup completion or failure?

Though no plugin is perfect, but I’m going to try out UpdraftPlus.

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