Creating and storing offsite backups

As a WordPress website owner you have probably read many times how important backups are.
Backups prevents loss of data and helps you revert breaking changes.

But have you made sure that your backups are stored in a safe place?
Storing your backups offsite keeps them safe and available if something unforeseen happens.

This guide covers:

  • What offsite backups are and why they are important
  • When and how often you need to create backups
  • What your backup should contain
  • Comparison of backup services
  • How to verify that your backups are working

What are offsite backups and why are they important?

An offsite backup is a backup that is stored outside your web server and outside your web hosts facility.

  • If you only store your backup on your computer or a USB, it might be unrecoverable if something happens to your disks.
  • An offsite backup keeps your data safe if something would happen to your web host. Including hacker attacks, floods, electric outages, robbery, or even financial problems.

An offsite backup should be stored in more than one location.
The recommendation is that you keep at least 3 copies.
You may have a copy on your computer for fast access, on an external disk, and on a cloud storage service.

Backups must be stored securely and in accordance with GDPR to prevent your data / customer data from being exposed if a hacker tries to access them.

When should you create a backup?

Always create a backup of your WordPress website before making big changes:

  • Updating WordPress to a major version
  • Updating important plugins to a major version
  • Moving your website
  • Converting a WordPress install to a multisite

As a security measure you need to do regular backups.
The recommendation is that you do daily automatic backups.
If your site is a high traffic website or online store, you should do real-time backups.
Real-time backups means that changes are saved as they happen.

What should your backup contain?

You can choose to backup your entire website:
Including the WordPress database, files, themes, plugins and your uploaded content.
This is the best option if you want to be able to restore your full website.

You can also choose to only backup your database, or to export your content.

Incremental backups

Using incremental backups means that only changes that have been made since your last backup are saved.
Both file changes and changes to your database are saved.
Incremental backups are faster than traditional backups and cause less strain on your website when the files are being copied.

Organising your backups

Organising your backups in seperate folders per month, week and day will make it easier for you to locate backups if you need to restore them.

Comparison of backup services

-We can help you with all your backup needs. Contact us to set things up.

Backup services provided by web hosts

Using a backup service provided by your web host can be a viable option.

Make sure that:

  • The backups are being stored offsite
  • They can be downloaded and restored automatically

Check if there is a storage size limit and how long your backups are saved.

Avoid using a backup service if the files are saved on your web server.
This will use up your disk space, and your data will not be as safe.

Avoid using a backup service if you have to open a support ticket to
access or restore your backup. This will take too long and you can lose customers.

Backup plugins and storage systems

Plugins for scheduled offsite backups

All-in-One WP Migration -The free version of this plugin supports manual backups to your computer and has easy to use restoration functions.

To make full use of the plugin, you need to buy an extension.
The extension lets you create backups of your files hourly, daily or weekly.

You can buy extensions that work with one single storage service, for a one time fee of $99, and a monthly fee of $29.
The supported storage services include: Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Backblaze, OneDrive, Azure Storage, DigitalOcean Spaces and more.

You need to buy additional extensions to increase the file size and for mutlisites.

What sets All-in-One WP Migration apart is that they have support for WP CLI for advanced usage.

UpdraftPlus is available in a free and a premium version. The price for the personal tier is $85 / year for two sites.

The plugin supports incremental backups and multisites. You can schedule backups from every 2 hours to one month.

With the free version you have a limited selection of storage locations.
You can choose between email, Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3.
You can only store your backup in one location.

With the premium version you can also choose SFTP, Backblaze, Google Cloud and Microsoft OneDrive.
You can store your backup in more than one location, creating a more secure offsite backup system.

Plugins for real-time offsite backups

To recap, real-time backups are recommended for high traffic sites and e-commerce sites.

BlogVault is a premium plugin that creates real-time, incremental backups. The price is $20.75 / month for one website.

BlogVault saves and syncs your backups on their own Amazon S3 system. Backups are saved for 365 days and the space is unlimited.
You do not need to pay extra for a storage system. But it also means you can only access your files via BlogVault.

The plugin supports multisites with up to 5 sites.

WP Time Capsule is another popular plugin that creates real-time, incremental backups. A 30 day restoration window costs $49 / year for two websites.
You can upgrade to a longer restoration window, if your storage system supports it.

Files can be stored on your Dropbox, Google Drive, Wasabi or Amazon S3 accounts. S3 compatible services like Digital Ocean Spaces are not supported.
You can access the files without using the plugin. But you have to upgrade your storage if you need more space.

The plugin supports multisites.

Jetpack Backup is a paid service from Automattic, built to replace VaultPress. The price for the real-time tier with unlimited offsite storage is $50 / month & site.
This service is described as having an undo for your WordPress website,
with 1000 restore points.

Compared to VaultPress, it is much more performant, offering faster backups and restores, along with the Activity Log to manage your restore points and see changes made to your site.
-Jetpack Support Staff

It does not support multisite, and you have to install the Jetpack plugin. You have access to your files via the plugin or via WordPress.com.
Summary
First, check if your web host is already offering offsite backups.

If your business can sustain the price of $50 per month and site,
Jetpack is a good option because of its ease of use and great support.

If you don’t need real-time backups, the free version of UpdraftPlus in combination with free storage from Google Drive is a good option.
The premium version of UpdraftPlus is also the only alternative that stores your backups in more than one location.

No matter what service you choose, make sure that your backups are stored in accordance with GDPR and other privacy regulations.

How to verify that your backups are working

If your website has been hacked, it can be difficult to know exactly when the problems started.
You need to test your backups to find a version that is safe to restore.

The safest way to test the backup is to install a local web server.

Restoring the website using plugins:

  1. Install WordPress on your web server
  2. Install the plugin you used to create the backup
  3. Locate your backup and restore your installation
  4. Test your website

Restoring the website manually:

  1. Create a new database and import your database backup
  2. Copy your WordPress files into your directory
  3. Open the WordPress configuration file wp-config.php. Enter the database name, username and password you used to create your database.
  4. Start your web server. Open the WordPress installation page in your browser to start the installation.
  5. Test your website

Need help?

We offer a secure, hassle-free backup service so that you can focus on your business. Contact us if you need any help with backups.
If you suspect that your web site has been hacked, please send us a message. We can help you restore it and protect it.

Contact Us

Can't find an answer to your question and need our help?

Send us an email and we'll do our best to get it answered for you.