Following on from last week’s post about protecting your WordPress site I thought it would be a useful exercise to explain how to backup your WordPress site. It’s good practice to get into the habit of doing this, and once you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t take very long.
Firstly you need to download an FTP client. FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol – essentially you need software to move the files that make up your website to a safe place on your computer. There are many available, this article lists the top five free FTP clients. Digital Davidson we use the one that’s top of the list, FileZilla.
Once you’ve downloaded an application, you need to set up a link to the site you want to backup. In FileZilla you do this by selecting Site Manager via the File menu and entering the required details which your host or website developer will be able to supply you with.
Once you have established a connection you need to copy the files to your computer so you have a local copy of what’s happening on your live website. FileZilla refer to the live site the Remote Site, and it’s usually visible on the right hand side of the screen. The lower half of the screen shows you what’s inside the folder you have selected. The folder you’re interested in is called public_html.
The first time you make a copy of the website it’s a good idea to copy across all the contents of this folder. Each time after that you only need to copy the wp-content folder and all other root files (the ones that show after you click on the top folder) including the wp.config file. Strictly speaking you don’t need to copy all the other folders as they are the core WordPress files that can be downloaded at any time via the WordPress website. By only copying the folders that you need the time taken to complete the backup will be significantly reduced.
The second time you backup your website, and each time thereafter, you’ll receive an onscreen message (if you’re using FileZilla) warning that the target file already exists. You simply need to check the Overwrite tick box, as well as Always use this action and Apply to the current queue only.
It’s recommended that you take a local backup every month or so, even though your web developer and host will also be doing so. It just means that if you’re updating content regularly you’ll stand a better chance of getting the most recent version should you ever need to restore it.
As mentioned before backing up your WordPress website is a good habit to get into. There’s a second part to this which we’ll get onto next week, where we’ll explain how to backup the databases associated with your WordPress website too.