How to Backup WordPress Before Upgrading or Making Other Changes

| 10 July 2011

10 July 2011

WordPress always warns you to “please back up your database and files” before upgrading to the latest version of WordPress. Since a great-looking new WordPress 3.2 was recently released with some new features you may want (I love the full-screen writing mode, it really helps me focus on just writing), I thought I’d share the best ways to backup your WordPress files before updating.

First, it’s unlikely that you’re going to loose your files as part of the WordPress upgrade. They’re just being extra cautious. You can do a full backup through the hosting admin area (usually cPanel), or just login with an FTP client and download all your files. But if you use a reliable hosting company who backs up files on a regular basis, that’s not so much of a worry. However, it is possible that your database (where all the text, organization, etc. of your site is stored) could be damaged. An even more likely possibility is that the newest version of WordPress may not work with an older plugin you have, that has not been updated by it’s author. If it provides some functionality that’s vital to your site/blog, having a backup of the database, makes it much easier to roll everything back to a previous version of WordPress.

So I looked for a quick solution that would allow me to download the database of a site. I found a great plugin called WP-DB-Backup, which does exactly that. It allows you to quickly download a copy of the database, right from the WordPress admin. It also allows you to schedule regular backups that can then be emailed to you. It’s very easy to use: just go to Tools>Backup, check or uncheck a few things you may or may not want backed up, and click the “Backup now!” button. After a few seconds (usually), it will download the database backup to your computer. Then you can safely go to Dashboard>Updates and update WordPress.

Of course in my search, and testing, I also found some other great alternatives, if you’re looking for more database functionality, or a full site backup:

  • WP-DBManager: an extensive plugin that lets you do a lot of common things you would normally do from phpMyAdmin, but right in the WordPress admin. It will let you optimize, repair, backup, restore, and delete backups, of the database. Plus  drop/empty tables and run selected queries. It also does backup scheduling.
  • XCloner – Backup and Restore: a full-featured backup plugin. It allows you to backup and restore your entire WordPress website, including both files and your database. It also does backup scheduling, but is quite an advanced plugin, and not for newbies.

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