How to Backup your WordPress Website

March 11, 2017
March 11, 2017 Zee

How to Backup your WordPress Website

Have you ever lost your WordPress site? Trust me, it’s not a funny experience. I have fallen victim to this so many times in the past all because no one showed me how. That’s why today’s lesson is on How to Backup Your WordPress Website.

What is a backup? A backup is simply a copy of your site that you can reinstall (restore) should something go wrong. It’s a fail-safe, precautionary measure that saves you a lot of stress. It’s like an insurance policy that protects all the effort, time and money you’ve invested in your WordPress site.

Reasons why you should backup your WordPress website:

  • It’s not your web host’s responsibility to make back ups available to you.
  • You need to be ready to react quickly. Having an up to date back up in place will allow you to get back online quickly after a mishap.
  • It’s your protection against viruses. Web hosts don’t tend to proactively run virus and malware scanners against your website. Therefore, keeping a backup may be your best protection; allowing you to turn back the clock after an attack. While this doesn’t prevent attacks, it does cure them when needed.

It’s fairly easy, and I’ll go straight to the point. See the easy-to-follow steps below:

So what’s in a WordPress Website?

Your WordPress site is made of two components, first, the files i.e. theme/plugin files, scripts, media etc that make up the structure of your site, and provide functionality. Then we have a MySQL database that stores your blog posts, comments and the options you set in your WordPress admin area.

The Manual Backup Option


This involves manually using FTP to send files to your local computer. You should have an FTP/SFTP client to access your web hosting. Thanks to this software, you can download all your WordPress files into a folder on your computer. If it is the first time you back up your installation, you should just download the whole WordPress folder.

Your WordPress directory contains sub-folders e.g. wp-content, wp-includes etc and files e.g. wp-config.php, theme and plugin files etc required by your WordPress site. The wp-content folder contains all your themes, plugins, cache and uploads and a few more. The wp-admin carries all the files required by your WordPress admin area, so you can’t afford to lose this as well. The wp-includes folder contains WordPress core files. This is the folder where all the major WordPress code lives.


  1. You have to remember to back up regularly.
  2. It can be time consuming for huge websites.
  3. You must manually monitor the download to ensure that it has completed properly.


  1. Set reminders to back up your website.
  2. Don’t forget to back up your databases too.
  3. Use multiple hard drives.

To create a copy of your WordPress files, you just need to download your entire WordPress directory. How? You can login to your server via cPanel or using a FTP program such FileZilla.

The CPanel Backup Option

This one’s easy. Here’s how to backup your WordPress website using CPanel. If you are hosting on a server with the cPanel control panel installed:

  1. Log into your cPanel control panel.
  2. Click on the “Backup” icon.
  3. Select “Generate / Download a Full Backup”.
  4. Select “Home Directory” in “Backup Destination” and enter your email address, before clicking the “Generate Backup” button.
  5. You’ll receive an email when the backup is ready.

NOTE: Download the backup to your computer and keep it stored safely. Back up frequently and keep the backup files in a safe place. If your backups are stored on your server and your server goes down, you are essentially left without a backup.

Backing up the WordPress Database

The ‘database’ is the place where you can find your data: when you create a post or a page, add metadata to a media file or again when a user leave a comment on your website, it is stored into the database. It also contains the options you set in your administration, users’ information or even your plugins’ settings.

Now that we have a fresh copy of your WordPress files, let’s backup your WordPress database. The way we can backup our database can change depending on the web hosting used. However, chances are great that your web hosting allows you to use ‘phpMyAdmin’ to control and manage your database.

  • Just navigate to your cPanel and locate phpMyAdmin. It’s usually located under Database Tools.
  • Log in, which should lead you to the phpMyAdmin administration panel
  • Hit the Databases tab to list your databases.
  • (Note: If you installed your WordPress site using third-party platforms such as Softaculous or Mojo Marketplace, you might have no idea which database to work with. If that is the case, then go to your file manager, navigate to your WordPress directory and locate the wp-config.php file. Right-click on wp-config.php and choose view.
  • You will see a name like this:
    define('DB_NAME', 'database_name');

    Your database name is the value contained in the second set of single quotation marks, which is ‘database_name’ in our example above. Then, locate your database in phpMyAdmin. Click on the database to open it.

  • Select all the tables you’d like to backup by ticking the checkboxes. Click “Check All” at the bottom to select all at once. Once you’ve selected the tables, hit the Export tab. Select the export method, and set format to SQL
  • Hit the Go button, and save your  database in a secure folder on your PC. Remember to save copies in the same locations you saved copies of your WordPress files.
  • That’s it! You have successfully learned how to backup your WordPress website!

You can also decide to use WordPress plugins to backup your WordPress website. It all depends on you.


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