WordPress Backup: The 5 Mistakes to Avoid

What are the most common mistakes when making a backup to WordPress?

Over the years, working with so many clients, we’ve been confronted with different hosting and configurations. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered cases where the backup didn’t work, sometimes with dramatic consequences.

To prevent other sites and online businesses from being left without reliable backups, we’ve collected in this article the five most common mistakes when backing up a WordPress site.

This guide will find all the information you need to prepare a safe and fast backup plan. And if you prefer, we’ve also made a video on this topic, which you can find right below.

1.Trust the hosting for WordPress backups

The most common mistake is trusting the backup service included in the hosting’s services.

“I don’t care about the backup; the hosting does it anyway!”.

How many times have we heard this sentence? Some hosting offer excellent plans, but others, unfortunately, do not.

Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of things. Some hosting backup files but not the database. The database is a fundamental component of WordPress, and without it, you can’t do a complete restore. To have a fast and secure site, you should never forget about the database and its cleanliness, as seen in this article.

Some hosting, then, make partial backups of WordPress folders. For example, in one case, the backup excluded wp-content/uploads/ directory with the excuse that “it takes up a lot of space,” leaving out all the images and videos uploaded to the site. Thus, the media library files were missing and lost forever after restoration.

Yes, the backups were performed in other cases, but with biblical intervention times. We’ve worked with support services that required up to three days for each response. Times that can be tolerable for those who have a small personal blog but unacceptable for those who have a business linked to a website. In our article on how to choose the best hosting for WordPress, we recommend carefully evaluating the customer service.

Our advice, then, is never to trust the hosting alone. Having a backup from the provider as an additional guarantee is a good idea, but it’s better to organize your backups on your own always to have them under control.

2.Leave the backup on the server

Many users leave backups on the server where the site is installed. A risk that is better avoided. It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket: we know how it ends.

Many unforeseen events can happen on a server, which can compromise both the content and the backups of a site.

Always better to download the backups to your PC, or better yet, online to the cloud, with high-reliability services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon S3.

3.Trusting manual WordPress backu

Another common mistake is not setting up a routine of automatic backups and deluding yourself that you always have time to remember to do manual backups

The intention is good, but between the thousands of commitments to follow for the online business you risk letting weeks, or even months, go by without making a copy of your site. In the unfortunate event that you do need to restore, you will end up with a too old site.

Making manual backups is wrong; better to plan backups automatically.

There is no reason not to backup every day. Even if the site is not changed often, there are still automatic updates, internal counters of visits, comments, and other data that change without our intervention.

The backup should be daily, and, in the case of eCommerce, the best solution is a natural time backup system, as we saw in our article.

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4.Keep a few backups

Even if you know how to make a WordPress backup, we recommend that you always keep multiple backups.

Keeping only the latest backups is often not enough: if your site has been hit by malware, you may not realize it right away. This is the case with adware, viruses that add advertisements and links to inappropriate external sites to pages and articles. It could be days before you realize the violation.
If you have only kept the last two or three backups, restoring them would be useless because you would be loading a version of the site already compromised by the virus. To solve this problem, you will need to activate a malware removal procedure like the one we offer with our service.

Keeping a few backups can be a very harmful mistake; better to create a 30 days archive as a security measure.

5.Don’t test the backup

If there were a “bible of the perfect backup,” you would probably find that now and then a backup should be tested by doing a complete restore of the site and checking that it works properly

In reality, very few people do this, usually only large companies with IT staff capable of performing a restore on a server through a test environment. On small sites, it’s never done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t test the backup.

Here are some valuable questions to help you verify that everything is working correctly:

Do you keep your backup files on the cloud?
If you own a 30-day archive, are they all present on the cloud?
If you open the file, does the library work?
Does your backup contain what you need?
What’s in the backup archive? Do you have all the necessary files, such as the WordPress folders (wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes)?
Let’s take an example. Sometimes, there are multiple WordPress installations on one domain: the one for the main site and maybe the additional one for the member’s area. Some plugins back up everything, others only the WordPress installation they are running on, with the due risks. It is essential to test that the backup settings are correctly configured.

Backup plugins for WordPress
After seeing how to make a WordPress backup without errors, we recommend some plugins to organize your backups better.

This article is not meant to be a tutorial on the tools to use and how to configure them. However, it is worth mentioning three plugins that we think are very good and that allows you to make a backup of your site with all the features we have talked about so far, namely:

saved in the cloud;
These plugins have free versions with limitations and full Premium versions. For backup, we recommend you spend a little more to gain peace of mind, especially if you have a business project.

The features of each plugin and the prices change over time, so it’s better to try them out and compare them when needed. We would like to clarify that we are not affiliated with any of this software and that our advice is absolute without ulterior motives.

Here are our recommendations:

WP Time Capsule.
Currently, among those listed, WP Time Capsule is the tool we prefer for WordPress site backups. This plugin allows incremental saving of data. This means that a daily copy of all files is not created, but only those that have changed: thus, the backup does not weigh down the site and allows a faster restoration.

WordPress backup is indeed a resource-intensive operation, especially for large sites. If that wasn’t enough, it could lead to site suspensions by the hosting company for exceeding the allowed limits.

This guide explains how to make a WordPress backup while avoiding the five most common mistakes we’ve witnessed during our support and technical assistance activities.

We decided to include a daily and incremental cloud backup program in all WP-OK management and maintenance plans, with backups for up to 90 days. This makes both us and our customers feel more comfortable, with the certainty of being able to count on more reliable backups.

We recommend that you review your site’s backup policy as soon as possible to avoid unpleasant situations.

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