There are many tasks to be done in running a blog; these tasks include: writing, marketing, advertising, hosting, design and much more. Time and effort all go into making your blog the best it can be. What would you do if one day all that work disappeared? What would you do if your database became corrupted or you lost all the changes you made to your theme?
One task that every blogger should practice is – backup their blog. Why wouldn’t you backup all that work you invest so much of yourself in creating? Many will say, “The hosting company backs up my data”. This is true; however, it is always a good practice to have your own backup, just in case.
For this installment, we will concentrate on basic steps for backup of the WordPress platform.
One question often asked, “How often should I backup my blog?” The answer is, “it depends”. If you make changes frequently, then backup your blog as frequently as you make changes.
When you make changes to your theme, modify plugins or link in other files, you should backup your blog. Put simply, if you make a change, back it up.
Whether changes are made often or not, at a minimum, a backup should be performed at least once every other week. This will insure you have at least a few revisions of your blog backed up for use if the need ever surfaces. When you have multiple revisions of your blog, you have more flexibility in your restore options.
When you log into the WordPress dashboard, on the left-hand panel, under tools, there is the option to export. Selecting this option will export your WordPress blog into an XML file; the XML file can easily import back into WordPress via the import option on the dashboard.
This option will export out the comments, custom fields, categories and tags of your blog; this option will also export the page and post content. The export will not export the WordPress theme or any plugins that were installed or modified.
This option is available on the self-hosted version of WordPress along with the managed version at WordPress.com.
The database is an essential component to your WordPress blog; it is imperative to have a backup of it. Depending on your hosting provider, you can have different options on how you backup this data.
If you have direct access to the database with an interface like PHPMyAdmin, the database can be exported out into a dump file. With this exported file, you have a complete backup of your WordPress database.
With no access to the database directly, you can utilize a WordPress plugin; this plugin is called: WordPress Database Backup. With the use of this plugin, you can backup the database into a dump file. The file will automatically compress itself on download; this will give you a smaller file to download and store.
This plugin has the option to manually choose the database tables to export. This is good if you want to discard any database tables for plugins; it is good to discard tables for spam and statistics as these can increase the size of the download.
Now that you have your database backup, store it on something other then your hard drive; the use of an external drive, CD, DVD or other backup media is recommended. If possible, store the data offsite.
You now have your database exported and stored; the next backup will consist of the rest of your WordPress framework. The remaining information to backup are the WordPress theme, plugins and any physical files related to your site.
You can download this information by using an FTP client. I prefer to use Filezilla FTP client for my file transfers. Connect to your FTP site, and then download the needed files. In this download, include the wp-content directory; this directory contains WordPress themes as well as plugins. Be sure to include other files that your site depends on such as images, videos, audio files, etc.
After all the files are transferred, organize and compress them into a format you are comfortable with; store the files on some form of backup media such as external drive, CD, DVD, etc. Again, if possible, store this data offsite with your database backup.
Just as having a backup for your computer, having a backup of your blog will make all the difference when something unexpected comes your way. Like the saying goes, “It is better to be safe, then sorry”.
If you have other ways to perform backups for your blog, I would be interested in hearing them.