Welcome to my series of quick tips for WordPress bloggers! Please note that nothing I post here will be for experienced users. Instead, the series is just quick little tips that I’ve come across since moving to WordPress. If you happen to have a random question about WordPress, feel free to send me an email and I’ll do my best to hunt down an answer!
This week’s quick tip…backups!
Backing up your blog is something that not many bloggers do, but it is incredibly important. Just imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to see that your entire website, every post you had ever written and every comment that you had ever received, was suddenly and inexplicably gone. It’s not something that happens often…but it does happen. And if you aren’t prepared, you may very well lose your entire blog.
The problem is that backing up your blog can be intimidating. It involves scary-sounding steps like logging into your cPanel and accessing your phpMyAdmin. But while leaving the comfort of WordPress to navigate the unfamiliar world of phpMyAdmin may sound frightening, it is actually fairly straightforward. WordPress has a great step-by-step tutorial for manually backing up your blog and if you follow the steps carefully, it is a fairly easy process. Of course, exporting your content first is always a good plan!
If you’re just too nervous to make the attempt, you do have other options. The simplest solution may be to just ask your website host if they offer any software for easily backing up your blog. But if they don’t or if the software is too complicated for a non-technical user, you’re not out of luck yet!
Because this is WordPress we’re talking about, you may have already guessed that, yes, there’s a Plugin for that. You can find a list of various Backup Plugins here, but whatever Plugin you decide to try, do so with caution! While simple Plugins for buttons and category posts are generally fairly safe, Backup Plugins are large and complex and are notorious for either not working correctly or for causing errors on your site. Read the reviews and the forum for each one! And then, if you do decide to give one a try, make sure that you export your content first.
Which brings me to my final tip for backing up your blog. As a last resort, using the Export feature found in the WordPress Tools category is a great way to ensure that if your site does go down, you won’t lose everything. You can do it every day and not even have to leave WordPress, so it’s also a handy additional step to take in between full database backups. Simply click on the Tools tab in your WordPress dashboard and then click the Export tab. On the Export screen, leave All Content checked, click the Download Export File button and when your browser’s download screen opens up, save the file to your computer.
Exporting your blog will not save your theme and it will not save your Plugins. But it WILL ensure that your posts, comments, categories and tags are all preserved in the event that something happens to your site. As a backup method, it’s easy, quick and much, much better than nothing. In fact, if you are using a basic free theme and just a few plugins, it may be the only backup method you need! But if you have a custom theme you adore or a list of Plugins you’re not sure you’ll be able to remember the names of when you need them, learning to back up your entire site is a good move to make. Because if the unthinkable happens, that backup file may be the most precious piece of data you will ever have!