212 – ‘B’ is for Backups

‘A-Z of WordPress’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

It’s the 2nd in our series of chats called the ‘A-Z of WordPress’ where we attempt to cover all the major aspects to building and maintaining sites with WordPress. Today, it’s the letter B and it stands for Backups.

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For reasons that I cannot explain, my (Nathan) audio has some clicks in it from time to time. I listened back to it and it’s completely fine, but I’m just letting you know! Who’d use the internet, eh!

Who needs them?

Everyone!? Even static sites should have one backup.

It gets more important with eCommerce, LMS and memberships sites with potentially 1,000’s of database changes per hour. Perhaps this is an argument for not using WordPress for this type of site?

David has 13 years experience of WordPress use I has not had a personal incident where a backup has been his only route to recovery. But he has helped others where it has.

So what might be some high-level uses of backups? The sort of thing that you could explain in simple terms to almost any client…

  • First line of protection for security issues
  • Backups for the convenience of lazy testing (breaking stuff without fear)
  • Protection with plugin updates (seems needed more than ever)
  • Duplicating / cloning sites
  • Keeping a copy in case an old client comes back and they want to restore their site as it was

What should we use?

  • Self managed plugins? (is this just a con – and a drain of servers? Perhaps we’ve had unreliable experiences with hosting our own plugin based backups?)
  • Rely on hosting companies; can we trust them?
  • Services that combine plugin and storage all in one package
  • Manual job? (how much skill is needed, is it reliable and easy to maintain?)

Self manage plugins:

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There’s likely a whole load more that we didn’t mention, but you get the idea that there’s no shortage of options in the WordPress plugin space for backups!

Cron job failure and issues on various servers can be the problem here. Also, it’s hard to know which plugin is good / bad because of environments variables and a lack of stats explaining in which environments they don’t work well.

Services that combine plugin and storage

Hosting companies

This is more diverse than ever with WordPress specialist hosting and VPS cloud solutions becoming more popular. Most hosting (including low cost Cpanel shared hosting) offer daily back ups.

  • Kinsta –  Daily with extra charges for hourly

Not backup as such

What would be the best fit for who?

Matching solutions to budget and budgets to the value of sites is the hard thing here.

For basic mostly static self managed websites on a low budget, perhaps your hosting backup is enough with a plugin based backup as an additional layer of insurance.

Busy Ecommerce shops / membership sites and LMS. Perhaps they need incremental backups hosted with a 3rd party. You certainly don’t want a weekly backup, only to discover that your site was hacked 15 minutes after the last backup which is now a week out of date! Imagine the fury of customers who’ve paid but you have no record of their transactions. Ouch!


Have a backup system in place – period! Make sure that you’ve got something. I would recommend having a 3rd party store the backup in addition to anything that you’ve got stored on your hosting, because if your site is taken over, the backups on the server might be compromised (unavailable) as well.

The more places that you can afford to have backups, the better.

If you have a site that rarely or never changes then the rules about your backups will be different from a site with more traffic and website amendments. Those will need a greater frequency of backups and greater inspection to ensure that they’re actually happening on the schedule that you need.

If you’ve got anything to add to the discussion, please add a comment below or come to the WP Builds Facebook Group and post a comment there.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there and welcome again to the WP Builds podcast. Thank you for joining us. This is episode number 212. Entitled B is for backups. It was published on Thursday, the 14th of January, 2020. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined a little bit later as I so very often am by David Wamsley. But we'll get to that in a moment before then a couple of bits of housekeeping.
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And on that page, there will be a whole load of ways that you can keep in touch with what WP Builds produces. There's an email list to sign up when we produce a new podcast episodes. And there's another newsletter where you can find out about any WordPress deals that we hear about as, and when we hear about them, there's also links to our very polite and friendly Facebook group of over two.
Thousand 700 WordPress's and there's the YouTube channel, Twitter feed and so on and so forth. Speaking of deals, if you head over to WP Builds.com forward slash deals, there is a list of never going away deals. You can get 20%, 30% and more often notable WordPress product it's searchable and filterable.
So WP Builds.com. Forward slash deals. If you're in the market for something this time of year, lastly, WP Builds.com forward slash advertise. If you would like to be on the WP build podcast, promoting your product or service a bit like AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split test in record time?
Like in a couple of minutes, use your existing pages and test anything against anything else. Buttons, images, headers, rows, anything. And the best part it works with elemental BeaverBuilder and the WordPress blog editor. You can check it out and get a free [email protected]. Okay. Today, B is four backups.
You may or may not know that David Waumsley and I have embarked upon a 26 episode series 26 being in the number of letters in the alphabet and 26, coincidentally being half of one year. So it's going to take us an entire year to do this because we intersperse episodes on week. We do an interview and the next week we do the David Waumsley and I discussion.
And that's what you've got today. We're talking about backups. What do we know about WordPress backups? What solutions are there? What have we found to work and not work? Are there better ways than using plugins? What about hosted backups and so on and so forth? We really get into the weeds of backups. So if this is of interest to you, I hope that you enjoy it.
David Waumsley: [00:03:08] Hello, this is the second in our series of chats, which we've called the a to Zed or Z of WordPress, where we attempt to cover all aspects of building and maintaining sites with WordPress. So today ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it's the letter B and that stands for Nathan,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:26] Boulder dash back up.
David Waumsley: [00:03:29] Yeah. Anyway, so backups, does he get your backup?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:34] Oh, good grief. We've
David Waumsley: [00:03:35] closed that. That's already.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:38] That's great. No I'll tell you what though. This is going to be a really interesting subject because David and I, as we always do spend a little bit of time before we press record chatting through, and this is one where it's clear.
There's no right answer. In fact, we, I would. Venture to say that we don't even really know what's going on here because there's so many choices and so many ways of doing this and different things that can be done and at things that can go wrong and so on.
David Waumsley: [00:04:05] Yeah. So should we start with who needs a backup?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:08] Yeah. Okay. I think that's a fair place to start. My my, my simple answer to that would be literally everybody. I don't know if you agree with that. I don't know. On what level we're taking this, in other words, when we talk about a backup, are we talking about something that you possess yourself or you're just safe in the knowledge that it is somewhere, maybe it's not in your control.
Maybe it's done by a host or something like that, but. Everybody needs a backup. Don't let David tell you otherwise.
David Waumsley: [00:04:39] That's what I think. And I think even if you, as I think most people who would be new to WordPress, certainly I was like that never even thought about it for quite some time. And luckily the hosts were there doing that, which is pretty much the case with even your lowest cost shared hosting, we'll do a backup, but I think that's probably true now that you need to have.
Because housemaid let you down.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:05] Yeah, I think that's true. It never ceases to amaze me when you read horror stories. And it's probably happened to people that both of us know, and I'm sure everybody listening can identify with this. When you hear of people who have had a calamity with their PC or laptop, the hard disk goes wrong or the computer malfunctions in some way.
And. All of that data is completely irrecoverable. They've got no way out of it. And of course, increasingly you've got malware and all these horrible viruses that come in and lock your computer down in the hopes that you've done have a backup. And it, it seems that message hasn't even got through to them.
General computer users. You know that if you want to keep your photos and you've only got them stored in one place, you need a backup of your PC, your Mac, or your PC, whatever it might be. And so then trying to persuade people that their website needs a backup, especially when they're already paying for something like hosting.
I think most people's assumption would be that's just taken care of. If I'm paying you, it doesn't matter how. How little I'm paying you. If I'm paying you, you will have taken care of the backup. And it will have been done frequently and correctly and verified and checked. And of course, as we all know, that's not actually the case and you need to put some time into this and it's a pretty good way of Of making your care plan work.
I think this is one of the, one of the few things which is Bulletproof as an argument. We'll take care of your website backups on on a daily, weekly, whatever basis. If you jump on our care plan, I think it's one of the most rock solid arguments you've got. It
David Waumsley: [00:06:36] is, but of course, and this is the variety we've got.
We've got the people, a lot of the sites that I look after. They're not going to change no new content maybe for a year or more on them, pretty static. And then on the other hand, I haven't gotten. A huge e-commerce site or that doesn't really matter anything that changes membership or learning management systems.
I haven't got any of those, but I have got a fairly busy shop and it needs a different approach really to it, it needs more regular backups and I'm still always a little bit nervous cause they were on my plan and I'm sure it's, even though it's written how much I will do in terms of backups, I'm pretty sure if it did go down.
There'll be looking to me and thinking it's my fault.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:20] Yeah. This is one of the, one of the issues I think is that we can automate all of this. We can automate the entire backup process, but the problem would arise of course, is if something went wrong and as we've just discovered, just before we clicked record one of my backups, as it happens, it's of no importance that it hasn't worked, but I've just discovered that it hasn't been running for several weeks.
And I hadn't really noticed it. So although you can automate everything, I think there's still a place for going in frequently. And just double checking that all of this stuff is backing up and that it's being sent to the correct third parties, wherever that might be, because it doesn't just go wrong.
And if you're getting paid for it to go right. I can imagine that people will be literally livid. Will you with you, especially if it is, as you said, something like an e-commerce store or what have you, where there's orders coming in all the time and they can't recover because you haven't been backing up for the last well, in this case two weeks, which would be a disaster.
David Waumsley: [00:08:20] Yeah. And, I think. It's one of the things that could put you in a little bit off WordPress, because I was so many backups solutions and obviously their goal in life to make you feel that you need their backup system. So they're going to put the fear of God into you if you're not backing up, but there's so many things to choose from.
And backups is one of those things because humans just. Go the course of least resistance on everything. I just think he's one of these things where it almost, when we talk about backups, it's something that could put people off WordPress and just think, Oh, I'll go for one of the third parties, Wix Weebly, Squarespace, Shopify.
Cause I wa I won't even need to think about that stuff.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:00] Yeah. That's a really good point. And I would imagine that those all in one solutions and I guess wordpress.com has the same sort of feel as Wix Squarespace, it's just, yeah. Being taken care of and you pay your fee. It, you can imagine the F the client who's just paid for their website only to discover that they hadn't really thought about the backups.
And maybe you didn't make it quite clear enough that they need to be paying weekly, annually, whatever it might be for backups. And suddenly it's like what, there's more, I've got to keep paying for this sort of stuff. Whereas. Yeah, that's just rolled into the fee on Wix and Squarespace and so on.
So it is interesting, but I would say that really it, no brainer. You've got to explain this to your clients and explain why it's needed. We actually just go through, you have a little sort of bullet pointed list near the top of our Google doc, where you talk about the, why is what's the point of it?
David Waumsley: [00:09:53] Oh, w yeah. Before why I back up for me, probably it's first-line protection for security issues. I can just revert back to the last copy and sort out what's going on. So that's backups on just that totally losing the site. They're also. As a way of being able to do some tests sometimes I'm using the backups while I'm building a site, because I want the convenience of being able to revert back to something while I'm doing some very lazy testing or I'm trying to do stuff with code that already shouldn't touch and they just think yeah, I've got it for that.
So there are other reasons and duplicated and moving sites around are another reason why I need backups. As, as well as I keep a backup, a few backups of old clients who have left in case that they want to come back one day.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:10:45] Yeah. I've got some on ice that I, on cold storage, if you like that, I never look up, but I, excuse me, just before I let any client go.
That is the last thing I do is just back everything up just in case that I don't know, maybe I've handed it over to the new. The new custodian of the website. And I just want to be sure that if something goes wrong there, I've got it. Just to be, a good person, really just have a backup just in case something goes wrong.
But you also, this has never really happened to me. I have to confess I've been fairly lucky, but the third of your bullet points is protection against plugin updates. If something goes wrong and whilst I understand that can happen. I've been very lucky in that I've become very cavalier now with my bank ops.
Sorry, not backups with my plugin updating essentially. I'd just go through the list. I use main WP. I just quickly scan through the list on a daily basis and look what plugins need updating. And then, although I never used to do this, he used to do them one site at a time. Now I just click the update all button in most cases, and I've been touch wood.
Completely immune, but that's, I think that's for many people, I'm sure something's gone wrong or, the server is died halfway through an update and things will need to go back to yesterday. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:12:00] I'm not sure when this is to go out, but we
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:02] have to
David Waumsley: [00:12:03] be quite careful around the Christmas period.
Don't we? Because the next release is gonna have another G query changes. Yes. That caused a few problems last time. So it would probably be coming out around that time. Also. I think we have another issue as well. If you're upgrading to PHP eight as well, it be a lot of plug-ins
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:22] to break.
David Waumsley: [00:12:23] Sorry, that's
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:23] aside, but it's a good point, but that's a, again, I think that's a good selling point for your care plan for sure.
For your clients, although we are, we, we have these plugins and the plugin architecture for WordPress is great. We are relying on third party developers to do some work, and we're going to click update whenever they release a patch or something, but we can't be a hundred percent sure that it's going to be compatible with everything that we've got on that website.
And so we'll have backups just in case something goes wrong. Essentially. You're selling an insurance policy really aren't you, which is no bad thing.
David Waumsley: [00:12:56] Yeah, it's no bad thing. In reality, we was talking about this before. We've never really had an incident. How do we know if we, that we've needed to rely on the backup?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:07] Now I'm retired. I've used a backup it's B it's because I've wanted to do it pretty much. I'm really struggling to think of any situation where Nope. No, I really can't think of something where I've had to use it in cold sweating, panic.
David Waumsley: [00:13:23] I know I'm disappointed. Cause the copies I kept of old clients let's go way back before I had a care plan and I really hope site will go down and we'll come back, go in.
We've lost our sight.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:38] pale Tinder, his super superhero pose. One of the, one of the great things about WordPress is there's a whole bunch of different solutions for this, but one of the worst things about WordPress is that there's a whole bunch of different solutions for this. Should we just talk about before we get into plugins?
Should we just talk about the different ways that we know of backing up again? There's a few, there's a few that we could talk about.
David Waumsley: [00:14:01] Main sections really about the yes. We got the self-managed plugins. Haven't we? The things that you can find on WordPress repository, or you can buy privately.
Plugins you install and self-manage okay. And then we've got the hosted solutions, which is a bunch of them.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:19] They're hybrid.
David Waumsley: [00:14:20] Most of those aren't there because they usually involve a plugin, but the service has been taken care of. On that services hosting.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:29] Yeah. The first situation that you're talking about, where you self manage, you got a plugin and it keeps a copy of your database and your files, but it keeps it on your own server.
And you can often with those, deploy it onto a third party server. So I think one of our favorites is updraft plus nice, simple to use, easy plugin. You can keep a copy on your own server, which is, recommended if you wish to have easy access to it, but a strong recommendation would be to send it off somewhere else.
In my case, I use Google drive. That's just seems to be. Ubiquitous now all of these plugin stuff, the option to link your Google drive with one button. And and it works. The only problem with these things is they they require your server resources to be in use. And so I don't know if you do the same thing.
I put them at peculiar times of the morning, like three Oh six in the morning, so that they run at the time that the site is going to be used the least.
David Waumsley: [00:15:22] Everybody knows three Oh six
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:26] everybody's on the site, but
David Waumsley: [00:15:27] three Oh seven.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:30] But these third party solutions, they can, I don't quite know how they do what they do, but they can make all of this happen and not use your resources and they can pull out your database.
And what have you, I don't quite know how that works. Do you.
David Waumsley: [00:15:46] No it's magic, but should we talk about the two well-known ones that do that already volt press, of course, which is automatic via jet pack and that's a service, but it's not a cheap service, but they do all that. And I guess that's the solution that they are using.
If you're on the.com. I don't know, I'm making this stuff up now, but yeah, there's that. And then, there. Third party, I suppose there's still a third party has automatic aren't they, but fault blog fault, well-known for doing a very similar thing, but also quite expensive on the they've got a range.
You should have different things. If you want the kind of incremental backups, I'm going into another conversation now that they have, they're both quite expensive where it's really backing up Effie. Every single change that's made in Witcher.

They get the high plans, but there are other ones as well.
It's such a range isn't there because we've got I-Team sync, which actually goes in with a plugin, which is separate, which is backup buddy.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:16:47] Yep.
David Waumsley: [00:16:49] And do you know what I only use for doing a slight bit of research for this conversation. I didn't even know this existed, that security known for there.
Security work. They do
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:00] Website backup as well.
David Waumsley: [00:17:01] They have a service as well.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:02] No, I didn't know that. Okay. That's interesting to them, but the, I guess the cost of these things is quite high because if they are backing up every change as, and when it happens presumably there is quite an infrastructural cost for them to do that.
I honestly don't know, but you'd imagine that's not a cheap thing to have going. They've got to, they've got to have everything up and running 24 seven every waking minute of every day and making sure that it's happening and there must be an awful lot going on there. And actually do, I have used a blog vault and I really like it.

David Waumsley: [00:17:34] Yeah, they do. They do good stuff ready? And that's a company that's quite interesting cause they do Mulcaire and they do also migrate guru. And really it's the same kind of service isn't this coming together to be this kind of one maintenance solution though.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:49] Yeah. It, you can do all your updating of websites and backups and security firewalls and all of that and migration, as you say, it's amazing.
Do you know what my preferred way of doing all of this though? And I know this is going to sound very. Barrier old-school is I prefer to do it all manually. That is to say I really still using the command line and go in and type it in the, I don't know, in my SQL dump and tarring up the files.
And in my experience, those things just work, PHP scripts. I think it would be fair to say are less reliable. I'm not entirely sure how accurate that is, but I think if you're typing in commands into the command line, you've got almost 0% chance of those things failing. I
David Waumsley: [00:18:38] really admire that you look into these things.
As soon as I hear something like dumb Porter, my head has gone somewhere else. And so the associations with it, but it sounds complex anything where it says there's a script and you put that on your server. Suddenly I feel excluded from being able to do that.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:18:54] The thing about it is that if you learn the one command, which is two.
Tar up basically means zip the the files. If you learn it, it'll take you four seconds to rewrite it and you could even stick it in it. But I don't know, in a text document somewhere on your desktop and just copy and paste it each time into the terminal and you can, you can watch the backup happened in real time on the screen.
It's really great. And And it takes seconds to type these commands and then you've got a backup and the problem is it doesn't do anything with it. It just puts it somewhere on your server. So you have created a job in that. You've then got to go and put it somewhere on your desktop or wherever that might be.
But It always amazes me that more people don't make use of these things and that, but I guess everybody just wants simplicity. You just want to be able to click a button and for it to work and be automated. But I do still like doing it this way. Is this
David Waumsley: [00:19:48] something that you can't make, so you can run it on a Cron job, so you don't have to manually go and do the backups.
So that's solved. Are you, would you be able to with a script also clear out previous copies?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:01] You absolutely could do. I don't. I just go in, I've just got a task in in my tasks scheduling system, which tells me to just go and download and delete the backups. And by downloading the Mike, I do delete them basically at the same time, so that just empties them out and it doesn't really take very long.
I don't do it all the time. I have become much more happy using. Products like updraft and blog vault and all of that over time. But it's just, it's one of those things that I learned right at the start when I was using servers and things, and I just stuck with it because it worked and I was very happy with it.
And also it takes seconds. It, the backup a fairly large website will take. Four seconds four or five seconds. It's very quick. And so from that point of view, it was always easy, but I don't know why I got into that, but yes, you could run a Cron job and make it back up and, you could create a script to send it somewhere else.
I'm sure. But I don't do any of that. I just download it manually, which is, but another thing that I used to do, I used to run a server and have Plesk on it. And that allowed you to do basically the same thing and then it would send it off to so plastic is a bit like M C panel or something. So it would allow you to create those backups and then send them off to various places and other FTP server or Amazon S3 bucket or Google drive.
It did the same thing, but honestly, I would say spend 10 minutes. Looking to, I might even put the commands in the show notes. I don't know. And you can just try it out for yourself. It's so simple, but it might one day just save your bacon if you need to do it. And you, I don't know, you can't, for some reason, log into the backend of WordPress, but you can access the the files themselves.
David Waumsley: [00:21:43] Could, would there be a situation where you could have a problem cause you didn't update that script or is it pretty much likely to run well, server all the time?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:21:52] No, I think it's I've never had a problem with it not working and of course you can run these commands. By typing them in.
So even if it didn't work you could still get a backup where you are at this exact moment. Obviously, in most cases you want to back up because something's already gone wrong. But if the script is working, a Cron job is. You could have an external Cron service making sure it worked, but in my case, I just use the server Chrome, which is less reliable, but there you go.
And and it's never not fired. It always works. I go in and like clockwork there and my backups every time, the database and the, on the phone.
David Waumsley: [00:22:26] Yeah, I see. That's one of the reasons why I probably still stick with a plugin because there's this idea of in my head that things may change. The plugins need to update and they're updating for some reason, I've never understood.
Why they need to update the backup plugins.

But I, my assumption is because I know nothing about using a script is that, I'm best leaving this to experts to take care of, how to backup my WordPress.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:51] That the thing about the plugins is they're updating because of.
Changes to PHP or they're adding new features or they've, they've changed the UI on the plugin to move the buttons around and make it easier. Whereas the terminal commands, they're just part of the iOS. It's a bit like on, on windows or Mac iOS, when you go to a file and you right. Click and you click, I dunno what it is on windows, but on Mac you click and the option is duplicate.
And it's just. Within the iOS. So really what you're doing is you're using the Linux command line to, to carry out an a feature of the operating system. But the plugins can't really well often, I don't think they make use in quite the same way. I'm not going to get into that cause I'm not sure exactly how these plugins work, but it's it's fail safe, I think.
Excuse me, fail safe. Not entirely, but I would say it's 99.99%. Of the time it will work in the same way as copying and pasting on windows or work.
David Waumsley: [00:23:48] Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:23:48] So it's all a big scam, really? No, because it's not easy in that. It's not hard, but it's not the sort of thing anybody would want to get into, if you're.
Prepared to pay your hosts to do this, then essentially that's the same thing, right? You're just paying somebody to make it straightforward and as easy as possible. And that's really what these plugins do, but you've got to think that if backup body, which makes the claim that it was the first of its kind, what did people do before this?
They must have relied on these kinds of solutions, C panel Plesk people typing things into the command line. We've just become, yeah, we've just become a little bit reliant on nice easy solutions in a UI which anybody can use. Yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:24:33] Yeah, indeed. And hosting companies. That's the other one, really?
You can, you could spend time looking there instead to see what the commitments are of those hosting companies, whether they commit to, everybody's, I think pretty much. Down to the very lowest of cost shared hosting. I don't think there's any out there that don't promise a daily backup, but no.
Does that basic promise and expectation or ECE, I've never even looked into this. I view whether any of these hosting companies make any promises, whether there's any, whether they'll pay any damages, if they fail to back up. No,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:13] I confess I haven't. And I know that these kinds of things, probably if, if it's mission critical, I suspect that you would have to look into this and make sure that it's being done.
I've always just worked on the assumption that if my host is promising it, that it will work, but because both of you and I have been very lucky, we haven't had to deploy the backup in anger, but you do here. In Facebook groups. And so when you hear horrible stories of people who are devastated to, to find that their hosts back backup hasn't actually worked and just count myself, very lucky that this hasn't been the case for me, I guess I've always had a bit of a belts and braces approach to all of this stuff. You. And I both know
David Waumsley: [00:25:52] that
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:53] it's good to have multiple points of failure. So I'm copying things onto the server and then deleting those. I'm also sending them to various locations, which then ultimately find their way onto my desktop and those backups on my desktop ultimately find their way onto another backup.
So I've got backups of my backups going back for ages, which. I guess if you've, if you're, if you may, I know that there's multiple points of failure, so it doesn't really matter if one goes wrong. So I'm a bit laissez Faire about checking things, because I know you'd have to have a lot going wrong for it to really ultimately fail.
But if you are a casual user and you're on shared hosting or something like that, and you're one system of backing up fails. Oh, you're toast really? Aren't you. Yeah,
David Waumsley: [00:26:40] I definitely and again, this was low cost hosting V cheap. It was and I did for a friend, I had to find the ones that were in their C panel and with they were there, they worked really well.
I, that was a relief, but yeah, certainly that, how many years have I been. 13 years or something using WordPress nearly 14 and only one incident I can think of where I've actually really.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:06] Yeah. That's amazing. That's really amazing. Just shows how reliable all this sort of stuff is. Should we get into the the names of the plugins and so on that we know on, in no, of in the WordPress space.
David Waumsley: [00:27:18] Yeah. Too many of them. So we'll do the self managed plugins just before we go into this, if this is. We didn't discuss this, but it's very hard to judge these plugins because some of them are doing other jobs than migrating where some of them are, if you like a focusing just on the backup and recovery.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:39] yeah.
David Waumsley: [00:27:39] Should we start with the one we've already mentioned, which is updraft plus, which is very popular in a way you can, it's a fabulous deal. The free deal. Pretty much gives you everything you need, doesn't it? Yeah. And if you want to use it as a migration tool, you need to be for the pro. If you want to move your site to another domain, then you'd need to pay for it or do something manual.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:04] Yeah. The situations in which I'm using updraft, plus I'm only on the free version, because as you said, it does pretty much everything I want. And in my case, that is basically a daily backup. The whole thing and it will also back up to a location. So in my case, Google drive, that's all that I need.
And it seems to work flawlessly it's it really is amazing, but the, there is some slight drawbacks with the free version in the, in my Google drive. I just get this one folder called updraft plus, and I haven't got the options to segregate things by site, but as luck would have it, the the free version, it upends the name of the website into every one of the file names.
So as an example, they either WP Builds one. His backup, it goes like this. It goes back up on the score date, underscore site name, underscore random string.zip. And then it backs up five different things. It's called others plugins themes, the uploads directory. And then finally there's a a database file as well.
And and it's all there in some sense. I don't like the way it backs everything up into different sections like that. I'd rather, it just backed everything up into just one giant zip file, which then upon on zipping would show me those different directories. But, I can't complain. It's totally free.
David Waumsley: [00:29:33] Backup buddy, I think does that, doesn't it?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:29:36] Yes. Backup buddy enables you to take more of a, it's more like the command line in that. It just gives you one. Big folder one big zip file and then you have to go in and I believe it also backs up the, the root of everything. So it backs up all of your WordPress stuff as well.
Whereas updraft plus, I don't believe it does that. I think it just gives you the stuff that you're going to need. So the plugin directory, the upload directory and so on, because you can download WordPress. Again, completely for free and it's available and easy to get. Whereas I think updraft, sorry, backup, but I think it even takes a copy of of WordPress as well, which is what I do when I do my my tarball, like I said, in the command line, I get the whole thing.
So I get WordPress as well, so that, I'm on the correct version and all of that kinda stuff, but it's great. It's really a great service if you've never used updraft, certainly check it out.
David Waumsley: [00:30:27] Yeah. Yeah. There's some other ones I rarely C mentioned just probably our circles, but it's fairly huge, which is back WP up.
I hardly ever get that mentioned again, another freemium one, which I think pretty much would take care of all that you need. I'm just having a quick look, actually, and it seems to have a 600,000. Downloads on that.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:49] So it is pretty popular. Yeah. The funny thing is, I guess the reason that everybody's talking about let's say updraft plus seems to get the most mentions, I guess it's because their free offering is so good.
There's so many people just simply using the free offering and then they get upsold onto the, some of the nice to have features of the. Premium version, which isn't that expensive considering. And I just wonder if these other ones, maybe they don't, I don't know. Maybe they don't offer quite as much for on the free version.
I'm not sure.
David Waumsley: [00:31:20] Yeah, I think that probably is close to the same thing. There are some that have got different twists. So the one that caught my eye when it came out, one of the relatively newer ones is WP time capsule because of the fact that for the first time I'd seen the possibility of getting incremental backups.
So backing up every moment, which up Jeff plus added to their pro package since. But. I don't know, this is fate difficult to get any evidence on any of the plugins. And when they work, that they're doing the job of backing up something, whether they restore well is another thing, but it comes to incremental on very in servers when you're self managing, that must be a nightmare.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:32:03] I've got to confess. I, I. I'd be very wary about that personally, the idea of the whole incremental thing. So it is the bold claim that you could literally roll back to. I don't know, the moment before somebody purchased a specific product in a WooCommerce shop, you could literally be that granular. It would have kept a backup of everything, including those amounts clicks and things like, in the cart being being executed and so on.
David Waumsley: [00:32:31] I think that's what he was trying to solve. That's the point problem. Isn't it all the time, those very busy dynamic websites, memberships e-commerce and learning management systems. They can have, thousands of changes to the database in an hour couldn't they? And that it will just keep changing as it needs to.
I don't know how granular any of them claim to be, but but yeah, I think I'm not sure that I've ever heard any. It, wasn't not that anyone can really test it, but I have heard people saying that it's not always work so well. And you always going to hear that. I think with any of the self-managed plugins, backup buddy particularly gets this a lot because it seems some people have a great experience with it.
Some people have a terrible experience with it, and so much seems to be dependent on the server.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:33:16] Yep. I've had great experiences with backup body until recently where I was just. Finding that things weren't backing up. It was just failing every time. And hence, in my case, my move to two updraft plus, which on the exact same server worked flawlessly.
But backup, but he didn't, that's not a criticism. I'm sure if I'd contacted support at bucket body, they would have probably got me sorted, but I just never did. Huh.
David Waumsley: [00:33:42] Interesting. Cause we, I think we may be talking about moving to the same of VPs server and that's where my recent problem with backup buddies started as well.
So it could be the same thing. Yeah. Different environments. So I think that's the problem with all of these and you never know how well, I certainly hadn't. I think I trust Jeff plus I use that and I have backup buddy, which is doing less backups. So belt and braces with this. But yeah,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:07] I had both fail
David Waumsley: [00:34:08] that, to recover.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:10] Oh, what backup body and doc trough. Both of them.
David Waumsley: [00:34:13] No, fortunately not at the same time,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:16] Okay.
David Waumsley: [00:34:16] Say, and it's never been important, so it's not such an issue, I've done a few tests and they have had them fail. So that's the problem, isn't it? It's all kind of insurance. You don't know how good it is until you need to use it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:27] Yeah. That's the point. Okay. That's interesting. The idea of incremental backups as you mentioned, double WP time capsule. Interesting. Yeah, no not use that. And I confess I've heard of it, but never, I don't think I've even been on their website. But I'd be interested to hear if anybody has actually used it and it's worked.
David Waumsley: [00:34:44] we just whiz through a few other names just to say they're out there. There's backup. WordPress, which was by human made, but it's not a new ownership, but that does look like it's on its way out, because it's not been updated for over a year. Same to us backup by subsidy,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:01] tick. I think you've got that subsist stick.
who knows,
David Waumsley: [00:35:09] Put the wrong teeth in. Yeah, so that's it. Yeah, that's again, not being updated, a new one. That's appeared. Maybe the last 18 months has been WP vivid.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:19] I've seen this went out on a sort of lifetime deal, didn't it?
David Waumsley: [00:35:22] Yeah. Yeah. That's yeah, I've not tried that one.
It was hard to find out details, but then the Chinese company, I think new on it, a lot of people have raved about it. A lot of people got very involved because it was a lifetime deal and did a lot of help in Tish. Shape it, but I don't know about that, but there's another one backup guard that's on code Canyon.
I never heard of, and there is WP database backup, which just does databases.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:48] Yeah. I can see a point where you might just want to use the database if you've got a, if you literally never changing your website, if it's a brochure website and you've got a backup of the files, Manji, why would you need a backup of the database if nothing's changing?
If I suppose you could just be writing posts, if you're not actually changing the theme in any way, wouldn't really matter. That seems a bit edgy case. I'm not sure I would endorse that. I think you need the files on the database.
David Waumsley: [00:36:12] The interesting thing is though I've made a note of some things which are not backups as such, which is WP reset, which I think a lot of people know, which allows you to just, that really is only dealing with databases.
I don't
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:25] get that. I don't get that plugin. Tell me what it does because I've seen it. I've seen it everywhere. It's been on AppSumo loads of people talking about it. What's the point of it? Get what it's doing, is the whole point that it literally takes you and resets the database.
In which case wouldn't you just re-install WordPress. I don't know what's going on.
David Waumsley: [00:36:46] Do you know what I, I used the plugin quite a few times and it's recommended if you're using one of these kind of astrocytes you can, you might want to try one of them. It loads the full site in with the database full of all the content and everything.
And if you want to try another one, you can just click WP reset and that's on the free version. And I actually bought the pro version of it because of the. I thought it would be fantastic while you're developing sites to be able to set it as it does when you've made a change with adding in a new plugin that you're not sure about it.
We'll do this backup of things before you did that and reset it for you. So that's really the only reason I got it. So I could see its place while you're developing sites quite handy. If you're experimenting with adding lots of new stuff, That you can just go back.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:37:31] So does it nag you, does it say before you install this new Astra sites or you installed this new plugin, make a buck up that you can then revert to.
David Waumsley: [00:37:43] Yeah. You could just set it to, to, when you upload a new plugin, it will do a backup for you in the background, if you set it to do that. But the reset, the free version is just literally for that situation where you've installed something. And what you want to do is to clear out the whole database, but leave all the plugins there.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:01] So it literally resets you to a zero, tape the tables of a WordPress install that set.
David Waumsley: [00:38:07] Yeah. And keeps you yes, it goes zero, but it keeps you logged in. So you still got your accounts, right? Okay. No, that's the benefit of
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:13] it. A weird thing
David Waumsley: [00:38:14] and duplicator as well, which is also often recommended as a backup plugin is literally to do that.
It's duplicate to clone and move your sites around, but it also can be used as a backup plugin.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:27] Yes. Yeah. In a sense that's the. The reason, in my case, for having backups as much as anything is to be able to migrate them. And I know that you were mentioning earlier that opt draft won't allow you to take the backup on the free version and migrate that.
But then there's other things like all in one migration, which is free up to I think, 500 megabytes or something like that. So you can just use those instead. Yeah. On
David Waumsley: [00:38:52] my favorite off topic is migrate
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:55] guru and that's
David Waumsley: [00:38:58] linked up with the blog vault. They,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:00] yes. I use that. Yeah. Yeah. I moved to site over to recently and it, I think they use migrate guru for that whole process.
I think they do.
David Waumsley: [00:39:12] Yeah. The wonderful thing is those things again, when it's not using your hosting it's just so reliable is going through their host in this movement. So very handy.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:22] So you never really taking one down. You've got both live at the same time and it just sucks it up to their cloud, pushes it to the new host.
And once it's all there, you can just go and check it on a, fake URL. And then once you've established, it's all working. You flip the DNS over and you're done.
David Waumsley: [00:39:36] We can't miss this one as well. Cause people's shout it as managed WP that can take care of all your backups for you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:43] okay. Surface I've never been a managed WP user, so it is the same sort of thing you want to go, your one central control panel. You can back up everything over there. Okay. That's good.
David Waumsley: [00:39:52] Yeah, so that's it. So should we round up and we got any advice, so we got, what do we think is. A best fit for people.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:03] I would say that firstly, you must have a backup. You must have multiple backups. And for me. I just take a backup of everything every day. So the entire site files, database and all that, but I know that some other people have a different approach. If the, if you're not uploading new images and nothing about the site is changing, why not just do the database periodically and keep the files maybe once a week or less?
I don't know, but do a backup. And for me, if you've not got a budget for this, I would say. Gopher explore updraft plus, and stick it into your favorite third party solution. Like Google drive or Amazon S3, something like that. It's just painless. You'll have it up and running. Yeah, Dropbox. Yeah, you'll have it up and running in five minutes and you can stop worrying about it.
David Waumsley: [00:40:54] that seems the easiest thing. Doesn't it for anyone coming in? I think that's, it's popularity there. And I think if you've got, I, if I had a really important busy shop that was only me money, then I think I would definitely be looking at things like blog volt or volt press.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:13] That I
David Waumsley: [00:41:13] think because the backups would need to be going on all the time.
And I would like that on a separate server on a separate server to the one that's serving up the site to the visitors. Yes. I think I would go all in on that, but it's quite expensive. I think for one site to get. The top range of that with the incremental backups, it's going to cost you somewhere around the sort of $250, or I think vault press is more like $300,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:41:40] I guess though, if you've got a site where there's.
Orders coming in, and this is your living, or at least a proportion of your living. It just doesn't make sense to have a cheap miserly approach to this sort of thing. You need to have it as a proper business expense and using those services that you've just mentioned. Total, no-brainer just spend the money, stop worrying about it, have something which, you know, and know is gonna work.
And, maybe just check it a few times just to see that it is working because you don't want to be like me to discover when you log in this morning that it hasn't been back yet two weeks.
David Waumsley: [00:42:14] Yeah. I do think, for new people who just want to build their own site with WordPress, There is a lot of options for them.
Now, if you think that they could still with good cash in, they can have their sites running on very low cost hosting because it's a fairly static site, so they can be serving up HTML. And if you've got something like updraft, plus, then they can do the backups to free Dropbox or Google drive. So it's yeah, it's a pretty good setup.
Isn't it?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:42:42] Yup, totally free will work and and probably entirely reliable going into the future, but do back up. Don't be that person when the whole thing goes wrong that you haven't got back, I'll make sure you have, and hopefully get multiple backups of your backups until you're so confused by how many backups you've got you tear your hair out right?
There we go. That's it? Yeah. All right. That was a nice chat. Thanks David.
David Waumsley: [00:43:04] Yep. We'll be on to the C word
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:07] next time. That sounds very rude. Look forward to that. See you later.
David Waumsley: [00:43:11] Okay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:43:12] Bye. I hope that you enjoy that. It's always fascinating to chat to David Wamsley about these things who knew that there were so many different ways that you can do WordPress backups.
Perhaps you've tried some of these before. Perhaps some of them are new to you, and you've never heard of these particular ways or plugins. If you've got an interest in commenting, please do so on the WP Builds.com website. Find the particular post and post there, or you can join our Facebook group WP Builds.com forward slash.
Facebook and find the thread in there and post instead, share it with the handle at WP Builds as well. Be most appreciative. If you feel like commenting, the WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by AB split test. Do you want to set up your AB split tests in record time, then you AB split test plugin for WordPress.
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Okie dokie. We will be back next week for a podcast this time. It will be an interview that's Thursday, 1:00 PM UK time. Also join us for the live news that we do. It's called this week in WordPress. That's at 1:00 PM UK time every Monday. And then we'll put that out as a sort of curated newsletter with links to all of the bits and pieces that we discuss plus much more.
You can find out about [email protected] forward slash subscribe. Okay. That's it for this week. I hope that you stay safe. I'll fade in some cheesy music and say,

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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