by Juan Robin II
Imagine waking up one morning only to discover an error with your WordPress administrative dashboard.
You contact your web hosting company, and they inform you that the website crashed — the handiwork of a hacker.
In addition to missing out on website traffic and sales, you also lost your databases and website content.
You start scrambling through your Google Drive and folders on your computer to salvage anything you can find. Then you have to manually rebuild your website from scratch.
This hypothetical example might be a bit on the extreme side, but it’s not completely implausible. Things happen. Your website could become the victim of user errors, vicious attacks, or malware.
In the event of an issue like this, regardless of the scale, you need to make sure you get your site back up and running as soon as possible. Failure to do so will crush your SEO ranking, and damage your relationship with customers and website visitors. On top of rebuilding your website, you’ll also need to run campaigns to improve your online reputation.
But there’s a way for you to avoid this catastrophic scenario in the first place — backup plugins.
While a backup plugin won’t prevent an attack or crash, it can restore all of your WordPress website content if you ever have any problems.
So what’s the best WordPress backup plugin?
There are tons of options to choose from. The last thing you want is to install a backup plugin as a fail-safe and have it cause more problems. That’s why I narrowed down the list to the five best WordPress backup plugins for you to consider. Use this guide as a reference to help you find the right one for your website.
For those of you who are looking for backups, migrations, and security features all in one plugin, VaultPress will likely be your best bet. It’s built by the same team that builds WordPress itself, Autommatic.
We use VaultPress on Quick Sprout and have since 2011.
Once you install this plugin, you can easily set up automated backups. Everything is stored in a digital off-site vault. In addition to backups, you can use VaultPress for site migrations, file repairs, and restores.
VaultPress also has a calendar view option, making it easy to locate, view, and restore content from previous backups. But the dashboard of VaultPress is different from what you’re used to with other WordPress plugins. This minor navigation flaw doesn’t affect the performance and usage of the plugin itself.
I also like the built-in security features. The file scanning and spam defense will help you identify and eliminate malware, spammers, viruses, and other security vulnerabilities. The added security reduces the chances that you’ll actually have to use the restore functions due to an outside threat, but it’s nice to have the backups available just to be safe.
Pricing plans for VaultPress start at $39 per year, so it’s a cost-effective way to back up your WordPress website.
The BackupBuddy WordPress plugin has been around for nearly a decade. Other backup plugins on the market only backup your database, but BackupBuddy covers the entire WordPress installation.
- Website pages
- Core files
- Custom posts
- Plugin files
All of these components will be backed up with this plugin. The files are backed up and stored off-site in a location that’s safe and secure. Each time a backup is completed, you can download a zip file to have another copy on your hard drive. You can also send backups to remote storage locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and BackupBuddy Stash.
If you ever have a problem and need to recover content, BackupBuddy makes it easy to quickly restore your entire WordPress site.
While this plugin can back up nearly every element of your WordPress site, that doesn’t mean you have to do so. For one reason or another, you may only want to backup certain components, like a database or specific files. You can completely customize the backups to fit your needs.
Another reason why BackupBuddy is a top choice is because you can schedule automatic backups, so you won’t have to remember to do this manually.
BackupBuddy is extremely helpful when it comes to user error as well. If you accidentally delete a post, you can restore the content in just a few clicks.
If you ever need to change domains or hosts for your WordPress site, the BackupBuddy plugin will help you do so with ease. The WordPress migration tool makes this plugin a popular choice for developers who create custom websites for clients on a temporary domain before moving the site over to a domain that’s live.
BackupBuddy also runs malware scans, which can potentially identify any problems before they happen.
All of these features make BackupBuddy one of the best WordPress backup plugins available.
Over two million active websites have installed UpdraftPlus as a WordPress backup.
UpdraftPlus gets my vote of confidence because it’s so easy to use. Even if you don’t have much technical experience, the interface is very straightforward. The simplicity allows you to backup and restore content in just a click or two.
The free version of UpdraftPlus lets you run full backups, manual backups, and scheduled backups. You can also back up and restore your plugins, themes, and database with the free version.
Automatic backup options range anywhere from hourly to monthly. If you want to manually manage UpdraftPlus, you’ll clearly see the restore, clone, and migrate options in addition to the backup buttons. You can access all of your current backups directly from the dashboard. It’s easy for you to restore or delete older versions that you no longer need.
Like other backup plugins, UpdraftPlus gives you remote storage options to places such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and many more.
UpdraftPlus is fast. So it uses up fewer server resources. This is a great feature for those of you who are using shared web hosting services.
It’s comforting knowing that there are free WordPress backup plugins out there with so much functionality. With that said, you can upgrade to a premium plan that’s extremely affordable, starting at $42 per year to get these additional features and reports:
- Incremental backups
- Multisite/multi-network compatible
- Backs up non WP files and databases to multiple remote destinations
- OneDrive, BackBlaze, Azure, SFTP storage destinations
- Database encryption
- Advanced reporting
- Dedicated expert support
The incremental backup feature is one of the best reasons to upgrade this plugin. Instead of having to back up your entire site when you make a change, such as adding an image, this option only backs up those new files.
If you have any issues with this plugin, the customer support team is exceptional.
You can tell that UpdraftPlus is a reliable plugin just by the sheer number of active installs on other websites. The plugin wouldn’t be so popular if all of those people had problems.
With over one million active installations, Duplicator is another popular choice. As the name implies, the primary function of this plugin is to migrate, move, or clone a WordPress website between domains. This can be accomplished without any downtime, which can’t be said for other plugins out there. You can also use Duplicator to transfer your WordPress website between hosts.
This plugin lets you duplicate a live website to a staging area, or duplicate your staging area to a live site. Duplicator allows you to execute a full migration in WordPress without having to import and export SQL scripts.
This plugin is a great option, but I can’t say I’d recommend it to beginners. It’s definitely better for those of you who have some technical knowledge. Don’t get me wrong; you don’t need to be a coding expert, but you should have a basic understanding of how things work before you attempt to use the Duplicator plugin on your website.
It’s great for developers who are tired of manually configuring themes and sets of plugins each time they build a new site. You can just do this once and bundle it with Duplicator, then just use that as your template by migrating it over to different locations for each client.
Here’s how it works: All of your website content, plugins, themes, and database get bundled into a zip file, which is referred to as a “package” by Duplicator.
In addition to these features, you can also benefit from scheduled backups by upgrading to Duplicator Pro. The pricing is pretty affordable; it starts at $79 per year.
Backups can be stored locally, or in remote locations. You can also set up email notifications for updates on the status of your backups.
I’d say this WordPress plugin is more suitable for developers who have the need for migrations and things of that nature. So if that’s what you’re looking for, Duplicator can fulfill the requirements. It’s great for developers who are tired of manually configuring themes and sets of plugins each time they build a new site. You can do this once and bundle it with Duplicator, then just use that as your template by migrating it over to a different locations for each client.
But if you just want a basic backup plugin, you’ll probably be better off with one of the other choices on our list.
5. WP Time Capsule
WP Time Capsule seamlessly integrates with your cloud storage applications. This WordPress backup plugin is definitely one of the easiest options available. So unlike other options that we’ve seen, even a novice user can handle all of the features. Once the plugin is installed and set up, it’s pretty hands-off moving forward.
After you install this plugin, the first thing you’ll need to do is connect it with one of the cloud storage locations:
- Google Drive
- Amazon S3
Once that happens, the plugin will automatically start creating your first backup.
Next, you just simply have to set your backup schedule and the WP Time Capsule plugin will take care of the rest.
Another great feature of the WP Time Capsule is the calendar view option. This is extremely helpful if you want to restore content from a specific date.
As you can see, this is very straightforward. All you have to do is click on the date, and decide if you want to view or restore files from your selection.
Since WP Time Capsule backs up your site incrementally, you won’t have multiple copies of files. This means less disk space will be used. WP Time Capsule doesn’t create zip files either, so fewer server resources are used compared to other backup methods.
If you want a backup plugin that’s simple, straightforward, user-friendly, and easy to use, WP Time Capsule is a top choice to consider.
What’s the best WordPress backup plugin?
I narrowed down the top five options for you to consider. Each of these plugins is slightly different from the others, so what’s best for your site will depend on what you’re looking for.
For those of you who want to go with a popular choice for WordPress backups, then you should take a closer look at BackupBuddy and UpdraftPlus.
If you’re a developer, a bit more tech-savvy, and plan to use a backup plugin for cloning, migrations, and moving content between servers, you’ll want to consider Duplicator.
Maybe you just want a simple backup plugin that’s easy to use, has automatic backups, and stores content in your personal remote storage accounts. In this case, you’ll want to go with WP Time Capsule.
If you want added security functionality in addition to WordPress backups, VaultPress has what you’re looking for.