It’s a piece of advice that you’ll get told over and over again as a WordPress site owner, but there is a very good reason – BACKUP YOUR DATA. Even if you think you’re undertaking a simple little change, a wrong move could result in lost data or files which, without a backup, is generally unrecoverable. Even if you take a backup before you make changes, hardware failures or hackers could wreak havoc on your files and/or database, so it is extremely important to keep regular backups of your content, so that you can restore your site should the worst happen.
You could do it manually and download everything once a day, but that gets extremely tedious in a hurry. Instead, you need a solution that will do it in the background without you needing to worry about it and that’s where Updraft comes in.
Updraft – the backup plugin
Updraft seems to be a relatively unknown plugin and I don’t know why because it is fantastic. It takes your essential files (themes, plugins and uploads folders) and your database and backs them up to any of the following services:
- Amazon S3
- Rackspace Cloud
FTP is a very feasible solution, so long as the server you are backing up to is a different server to the one your site is hosted on; if your hosting server dies, then your backups will be no good if they’re on the same server.
Email is good too, but space and size limitations can stop the files reaching you. Additionally, your email needs to be stored on a separate server for the reasons described above. A good solution to the size limitation would be to use YouSendIt to backup files.
I’ve had no experience with Rackspace, but I’m going to walk you through sending your files to Amazon S3.
Firstly, you’ll need an S3 account. Before you start getting concerned, they have a “free tier”, which should accommodate most lighter users. The exact pricing details can be found on their website, but most small sites won’t incur any charges and the fees for heavier users are still very reasonable.
Once you’ve got your S3 account set up, you’ll need to set up a “bucket”. This is a unique folder name that will store your files. You can do this by going to the console and clicking on Create Bucket.
Once you’ve created your bucket, you’ll need to get your access key and secret key (like a username and password, so keep them private). Go to Your Account and then click on Security Credentials. There, you will be able to create a new Access Key. Keep that page open so that you can copy your access key and secret key in a minute.
- Select Amazon S3 as your Cloud Backup Service.
- Decide how frequently backups should be taken (daily should be adequate for most sites).
- Enter the number of backups you would like to keep. For example, if you select 30 and you’re taking daily backups, on the 31st day, the 1st backup will be deleted to make way for your new backup.
- Enter your Amazon S3 access key, secret key and bucket name.
- Select whether or not you want an email every time a backup is performed.
- Save your settings.
- Perform a test by forcing a backup and seeing whether you see your files in your Amazon S3 console.
Now you can rest in the knowledge that no matter what happens to your site, you’ll always have a backup that is no more than one day old.
Had you heard of Updraft before? Have you installed it and got it working? Do you have any horror stories of losing your site without a backup?