Believe it or not, your WordPress website is like a fragile flower trying to survive against the threat of a heavy snowfall or a sudden storm (read: malicious hacker attacks) if not taken care of (read: backed up) properly.
‘But the hosting company has to ensure my site is protected, so I don’t worry about it’, will be first thought crossing your mind.
However, don’t fall victim to the common misconception. Of course, we don’t make you doubt your host’s diligence in terms of backing up your website. Nevertheless, keep in mind, that the backup types provided by a hosting company aren’t designed for WordPress. That means they can be inefficient when a hacking threat calls.
Second, you are not going to be notified if a backup fails. Besides, most of the low-cost hosting companies in fact protect your MySQL database only, at best, and not all of your files. That means that you can’t restore changes, for instance, to your theme, if it is hacked.
Now think again: do you really want to entrust your website’s (and in some sense, your business’s) safety to a hosting company? Most probably, no.
A solution? Take the initiative of protecting your website against malware in your hands. It’s not a rocket science – just a bit of patience and consistency – and your website will be shielded against the possible risks. In this post, you’ll learn how to do it yourself.
How to back up your WordPress files manually
In simple terms, a backup is the copy of your website that you can restore if needed. With backups, you protect the time, money and energy you spent on your website and ensure you don’t have to build your website from scratch filling it with the missing data. An unpleasant scenario, indeed. Of course, you can have it backed up by a cloud backup service such as Backup Guard, (and in one of our recent posts we discussed the indisputable advantages of online backups) especially if you’re short on time and still need a foolproof solution.
However, if you choose to do it all yourself, some guidance will come in handy.
First off, let’s see what your WordPress directory ‘houses’. In fact, it’s a ‘vault’ of sub-folders such as wp-content, wp-includes and files e.g. wp-config.php, as well as theme and plugin files your WordPress site. The most important folder, wp-content, contains all your themes, plugins, cache and some other files. You cannot afford the luxury of neglecting this data protection. The wp-admin, on the other hand, is home to the files required by your WordPress admin area, so it’s crucial to back it up, too. The wp-includes folder contains core WordPress files and all the key WordPress codes. It’s better to take care of these codes, too.
To create a backup copy of your WordPress files, you just need to download the whole WordPress directory. One way is to log in to your server via cPanel, and that’s what we are going to consider below.
How to back up your WordPress website through cPanel
Backing up your WordPress website is a piece of cake once you know the exact sequence of steps.
To this end, first off, log in to your web host and move to cPanel (it’s the first page you come across once you log in).
Then, navigate to the File Manager, leading you to your public_html or Home directory. Once you’re there, spot your WordPress directory – the folder you are going to back up. Next, you should compress it (a process that unluckily, is mandatory). Then take the following steps:
- Click on your WordPress directory, and select Compress from the menu bar, or right-click on the folder and choose Compress from the drop-down menu.
- Choose the compression type e.g. ZIP, Tar, GZIP etc from the dialog box that opens.
- Afterwards, click on Compress File(s) button and wait for a few minutes: your server is saving your compressed WordPress folder.
- Click on the compressed archive and select Download from the menu, or right-click on the archive and choose Download.
- Choose a secure location on your hard disk and save your backup.
Voila, you have backed up your WordPress website manually!
Other important backup tips
To be on the safe side, upload the backup to your Dropbox account, Google Drive, email it to yourself, burn it to a DVD/CD, transfer it to a USB to double check you have more than one copy.
Also, another important thing: if your web host uses a different control panel, for instance, vDeck or Plesk, etc, you just need to locate your File Manager, and follow the process i.e. Locate File Manager -> Locate your WordPress directory -> Compress -> Download. Don’t forget to repeat the process on a regular basis.
Of course, there are myriad ways of protecting your WordPress website against any malicious ‘intrusion’. If you use a different method to back up your WordPress website and find it effective, feel free to share your experiences below!