WordPress Backup Plugin

How to Install a WordPress Backup Plugin and Why It’s Important

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

When setting up a blog in WordPress, a backup plugin is a vital element. From protecting files from mishaps to malware recovery, never underestimate the value of a backup. Today, I’ll show you how to install the plugin and why it’s crucial.

Because no matter how safe you think you are, issues can happen instantly. And you don’t want to lose all of your hard work and forward momentum.

This is especially true if you’re using your blog as a portfolio to show freelance writing clients. It’s all about keeping that professional appearance.

Why Install a WordPress Backup Plugin?

Having a WordPress backup plugin on hand can save you a lot of aggravation in the future. Some new developers may not think it’s an absolute necessity. But in reality, it doesn’t take much to break a site.

From bots and hackers to removing the wrong core file, a lot can happen. And having a backup at the ready lets you get back to work without prolonged downtime.

Depending on the size of your site, you can restore the files and data quickly. And if your website generates a lot of traffic, every second counts.

Since most backup plugins are free to use in WordPress anyway, you really have no reason to not protect your site.

How to Add a Backup Plugin in WordPress

For this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to use UpdraftPlus. It’s an excellent tool whether you’re safeguarding your files or performing a migration.

UpdraftPlus does have a premium version of the tool available that offers more functionality. But today, I’m only focusing on the free version of the WordPress backup plugin.

1. Install UpdraftPlus

From the Add Plugins screen of WordPress, search for “UpdraftPlus.”


Install and activate the plugin.

Install UpdraftPlus Backup

Upon activation, UpdraftPlus will display a popup. Click the “Press here to start” button.

Setup WordPress Backup Plugin

This will take you to the settings screen of UpdraftPlus and launch its tour of the plugin. It’s probably a good idea to go through the tour as the plugin will show you where key settings are.

NOTE: You can also find the next screen in the Settings section of WordPress under, “UpdraftPlus Backups.”

2. Adjust Your Settings

Click the “Settings” tab at the top of the page.

Settings Tab

In this screen, you can control how many backups to keep on hand while picking a regular schedule.

NOTE: This is completely optional. If you want to keep UpdraftPlus to create backups manually, do nothing for setting up a schedule.

Setting Up a Schedule

Let’s say that I want to schedule automatic backups once per week and keep the three most current. Using the drop-down window, select the schedule you want to keep.

Schedule Backups

Set the number of backups you want to have ready. It’s always a good idea to have more than one just in case the most recent backup is missing something vital from an earlier version.

Set Backup Number

Do the same steps for the “Database” should you wish to back it up on a schedule as well.

NOTE: The more frequently you run a backup, the slower your site becomes. Find a good schedule according to your needs.

Adding Cloud Storage (Optional)

In the next section as you scroll down, you can choose to set WordPress to backup files from the plugin to a remote storage service. And UpdraftPlus supports quite a few of the most popular platforms.

Cloud Storage Backup

If you click on any of the Cloud systems, UpdraftPlus will open its settings screen below so you can set up the authentication. The information you’ll need depends on the platform you choose.

However, UpdraftPlus will provide detailed links and information regarding how to set up any of these methods for a Cloud backup solution.

Essentially, WordPress will send backups from this plug to any of these Cloud platforms. This way, you can keep a copy of your site in another location for safekeeping.

Removing Files from Backup (Optional)

Another thing you can do with UpdraftPlus is exclude files from the backup. By default, the plugin will already enable everything related to your site. These are accessible as you scroll further down the page.

Exclude Files

However, you can decide to exclude plugins, themes, uploads as well as set up various rules for specific file types.

If you’re unsure about what to select, it’s best if you just keep them set to default and then come back later should you wish to change something.

Other Settings

The last of the Settings tab includes database encryption, email reporting, and enabling expert settings. Unfortunately, encryption is only available in the pro version of the plugin.

If you changed anything in this section, make sure to click the “Save Changes” button on the bottom.

Other Settings

3. Create Your First Backup

Even if you set a schedule in the steps above, it’s still a good idea to run your first backup. Click the “Backup / Restore” tab.

Backup and Restore

As you can see in my example, the files are scheduled to backup tonight in about 6 hours. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Click the “Backup Now” button.

Backup Files Now

A popup window will open with a few options. This includes options for the database, files, and allowing the backup to be deleted manually.

If I connected a remote Cloud storage platform, I would have options to send the backup to that system.

For the sake of this tutorial, let’s just leave all the options as default. Click the “Backup Now” button on this popup screen.

Create a New Backup

UpdraftPlus will then perform the necessary steps in the background to create the current backup.

Using Advanced Tools

This WordPress backup plugin also comes with a few advanced tools should you really want to dive into your site. It gives you additional options to fine-tune how UpdraftPlus behaves as well as pertinent information you may need.

Advanced Tools

I won’t go into too much detail, but the sections include:

  • Site Information
    This is a breakdown of your site, the file paths, memory usage, and everything else related to the functionality of WordPress.
  • Lock Settings
    From here, you can lock the settings of the plugin should you pay for the premium version.
  • UpdraftCentral
    If you create an UpdraftCentral profile, you can control your website from its dashboard.
  • Search / Replace Database
    When you upgrade to the premium service, UpdraftPlus lets you look for and replace a database after migrating your website.
  • Site Size
    This section shows you the number of plugins, themes, uploads, and other files currently saved on disk.
  • Export / Import Settings
    Should you want to export UpdraftPlus settings, you can do so from this tab. You can also import any settings files you’ve previously exported.
  • Wipe Settings
    This works just like it sounds…by removing all of your settings information and starting over from defaults. It doesn’t, however, remove your previous backup files.

Other Plugins of Note

Although UpdraftPlus is a popular and excellent WordPress backup plugin, it’s not the only one available. If you don’t like it, for some reason, here are a few others you could try.

And yes, all of these are free to use.



I’ve used Duplicator in the past to migrate websites from my old host to GreenGeeks. It works exceptionally well and is pretty easy to use.

It gives you options to backup all or portions of the site, duplicate a staging area for testing, and can bring an online site to your computer for testing purposes.

Unfortunately, you have to upgrade to the premium service if you want to save backups to the Cloud.



BackWPup is another excellent plugin with a proven track record and over 700,000 active installations around the globe. It provides XML export support, checking and repairing databases, and Cloud backup integration.

Well, to an extent. You can backup to Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, and RackSpaceCloud for free. But if you use Google Drive, OneDrive, or Amazon Glacier, you’ll need to upgrade.

As a free WordPress backup plugin, though, it works very well and isn’t all that difficult to set up.

Backup Guard

Backup Guard

Although not as popular as the other plugins above, Backup Guard is no slouch when picking a useful option. It supports selective file and database backups, restoring log files, and importing restore files without the use of FTP.

The pro version comes with the ability to work in a multisite network, Cloud storage integration, and low priority backup mode.

You’ll also get a live progress view so you can see exactly what the plugin is currently doing.

Keep Your Data Secure

Like I said earlier, never underestimate the value of WordPress security. And selecting the best WordPress backup plugins should be part of your strategy to keep the site and your data safe.

With so many options available, there’s really no reason not to have a redundant system in place.

Michael Brockbank
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