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Take Control of Your WordPress Backups

For many years I have used CRON and shell scripts to perform code and database backups for my own site and client sites. Of course, using a CRON job usually means that the client is unable to modify the backup or the backup schedule which is fine, really, especially since the script does not require much tinkering once the code is in place. Typically, the database backup is small enough to attach to an email and automatically send to the client each day. The WordPress core, theme and plugin files are normally too large to attach to an email and require that the client download the archived backups from their server using FTP.

This last FTP step was a little too complex for one of my recent clients and I was forced to look at a plugin to control the backup process. Because this client was making use of the Google products such as Google Drive, I wanted to make use of a plugin that would copy the backups to their Google Drive.

The first plugin I downloaded was Google Drive for WordPress. This plugin does exactly what is says it will do – back up your entire WordPress installation including your database to Google Drive. I found that while this plugin could be configured quite quickly, it was lacking some features that I expected:

  • All backups are copied to the root directory of your Google Drive account. I found this failure to be quite limiting. Who wants to have all your backups listed in the root directory of your Google Drive account. Especially, if you should be maintaining backups for multiple sites.
  • The email notifications are so terse that it requires close scrutiny to determine which site was backed up and whether it was successful. The subject line of the email reads only “Backup.”

The second plugin that I tested was the very popular Updraft – WordPress Backup and Restoration. With its solid features, I understand why over a half million people have downloaded it. You can back up your WordPress installation to among other repositories Amazon, Dropbox and Google Drive.

The Updraft plugin does what I expected from the first plugin I tested – it does allow you to backup your site to a folder within your Google Drive account. You can easily maintain separate folders for all the sites that you want to backup thereby keeping files out of your root drive. The notification email clearly displays the site that has been successfully backed up or not. By default the name of the website is included in the backup name making it very easy to find the backup within your Google Drive folder.

The backup is performed in separate steps to generate multiple files – database, themes, plugins, uploads and other files outside the WP core. The WP core files are not backed up.

Additionally, the Updraft plugin allows you to download the backup to your desktop from the Updraft admin panel right within WordPress. You can also restore the backup through the Updraft admin panel.

If you are running a multisite installation of WordPress, Updraft published a premium addon which allows the super admin to backup all the sites within the network. Otherwise, you must configure the Updraft plugin for each of your separate sites.

I was pleasantly surprised by the robust features of Updraft and will probably include the plugin in my future WordPress projects.

If you are not routinely backing up your site, I ask you to please take a look at this Updraft plugin and install it on your site before you regret your decision.

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