The Art of WordPress Site Backup

Last Friday I was walking from the office to my car. Nothing unusual, though a 20-minute walk is quite a lengthy one. I was walking and contemplating when suddenly I felt a burden on my shoulders. In the beginning I thought it was just the pain of existence mixed with feelings about what's happening around the world right now. But then I gave myself a few seconds of mindful listening and realized it was my rucksack that was weighty and hurting my back badly ;)

So I came back home, gutted my backpack and realized I carry all the stuff that I might use one day but not necessarily need them all year long. In my bag I had supplies of cosmetics (should an unexpected date opportunity arrived), screwdrivers, pincers, and a knife (in case anything needs fixing), a calculator (for settlements day), medicines (when my asthma kicks in and tries to choke me once again), an umbrella, sunglasses and a bandanna against all the weather conditions. I even got small metal vodka cups that I inherited from my granny. In Eastern Europe these always come in handy for any unpredicted drinking occasion. Looking at this clutter gave me a good laugh and thought that I'm a taking backup seriously. A true backup guy, always prepared for anything!

Well, this was meant to be a blog post about website backups and web business protection so let me get back on track. However, before I go into the technicalities let’s go into how our minds operate when it comes to safety.

Thinking models

For the last few years there’s been a trend amongst my friends to study and work using the Enneagram personality model. The basic idea is that each person has nine aspects of their personality. Some aspects are stronger than others. If one aspect is particularly strong, you might assume you are of that particular personality type. It's just a model, so it doesn't necessarily depict the complexity of human mind and heart. But still, it is a helpful blueprint to use because it shows particular ways of filtering the reality.

Very often we do not see the life the way it is. We attempt to connect to the big picture and broad horizons, but more often than not we fall prey to the narrowness of our tunnel vision. What is more, we notice only what we were taught and what we learned to notice.

A personal need of security

So there's this security and safety need, or the sixth Enneagram aspect to personality. People who've developed this trait well probably don't need to read on. Surely they've already set up everything that's making their online business perfectly safe. They have a natural talent (that sometimes might be a burden) of scanning reality for possible threats and dangers and preparing themselves and their environments against them.

But there are many other personality types, too. For instance, there are those of an optimistic nature (like the numbers three or seven on the Enneagram scale) and securing their website might not be their first thought at all. Type three is an entrepreneur, so having set up their website, they will rather go selling, advertising, Facebooking about their new product and making things grow big, fast and energetic. They need to have somebody to remind them about security. My experience shows that many people simply don't do much to secure their websites after the development process is finished.

So stop for a moment and think: what kind of personality are you? Is there a balance between your optimism and pessimism? What's your risk prediction skill, and what about web security awareness?

Maybe it's time to do some research?

The power of backup

Research is important because right action follows proper information. One of the core rules of the mindfulness training is that the energy follows focus. But the focus is enabled when you know what to focus on. I've written a post about making WordPress websites secure, so you may want to go there to remind yourself how to strengthen your defenses.

I'll just focus here on the backups. They're critical because, despite high security, your website might break down one day, or a hacker might inject some malicious code. In my opinion, the best and fastest way to set up a backup system is to install a plugin like VaultPress or BackupBuddy (or another). What this gives you is:

1. You set up a backup plan, and it works automatically.

Depending on the type of your business, you may want to backup daily, weekly or monthly.

2. You back up your theme files and the database.

Imagine running a WooCommerce shop and losing your database by some mishap. Without a backup, you would have to add anew every single product (the amount of time it takes is terrifying). And you would lose your clients accounts. I've seen a client losing a shop this way, and it broke my heart. Don't go that way.

3. You may back up your plugins too.

What happens sometimes is that plugins don't work properly after their updates or website design gets clunky when plugins code changes. You need them updated (it's safer). But if this breaks your design, you may recover your last backup, get your website to its previous version and hire a developer who would make the new plugin version fit your website. Developer can work on a staging environment rather than on your live website and the advantages are obvious.

4. You can make manual backups before every WordPress update.

5. Your files are secured in a place outside of your server.

If your server dies, your files survive.

6. Security despite human mistakes.

I know you hire best page administrators, but if they make a mistake and delete all of your blog posts, you're secure too.

A helping hand

This may sound like self-advertising, but I would recommend you ask your developers to do the whole thing for you. Or, if you feel you know what you're doing, go on on your own. However, ask them at the end, to log into your WordPress dashboard and check if things are fine and if other security measures are raised. Not sure of it?

Well, last year I went to Scotland for the long-distance hike on the Isle of Skye. Haven't been to Scotland before, but being a backup person, I've read everything I could about hiking in Scotland. I also spoke with people who did some tourism there (but not hiking). One thing I knew for certain was that it might be rainy and that the Scottish rain is unpredictable. So I got every water-proof piece of clothing and gear that the human kind ever invented and dry I was.

I wrongly assumed that night temperature at the Skye (10-13℃) would be similar to my Lower Silesian 10-13℃ but didn't take into account the humidity and wind. So I ended up in a too thin sleeping bag. I remember one particular night when I had to wrap myself in a space blanket (a silver rescue one) before freezing to death - or freezing to a running nose at least.


This long digression helps me exemplify why it is important to ask people who have been somewhere or done something already. Building, securing and backing up websites is developers’ bread and butter, so they might be a real help. If you don’t need them for the whole process, use them for consultations at least. Better safe than sorry.