When disaster strikes you need a safe backup. You need a WordPress remote backup solution that’s reliable, convenient and ready to save your butt.
Before diving into the WordPress remote backup options, let’s cover the basics.
Why Backup WordPress?
Did you invest any time or money into your WordPress site? Then you need to protect that investment by backing it up. What happens if your hosting company disappears or your intern somehow pushes the wrong button or hackers delete your entire site and replace it with mad props to themselves? Stuff happens.
So, back it up.
We’ve been offering the BackupBuddy, the best WordPress backup plugin, for since 2010 as a way to keep your WordPress sites backed up and safe. It’s simple and easy. Do it. We believe every website should have a backup strategy.
Why Store WordPress Backups Off-site?
Once you’re backing up your site (with a plugin like BackupBuddy), you need to store those backups somewhere—ideally multiple somewheres. You really want redundancy in your WordPress backup plan.
Keeping a copy of your site on your server isn’t much help much. If your server has a problem, how are you going to get to your backup?
A backup on your own computer is good, but it’s also not enough. Your hard drive could crash, it could be stolen or your house could burn down. Let’s hope none of things happen, but sometimes they do.
So you need a remote, off-site storage location for your WordPress backups. Somewhere that isn’t your house, isn’t your computer and isn’t your server. A remote, off-site location gives you the redundancy you need.
Yes, this approach is extreme. But it’s also smart. It’s why everyone in the presidential line of succession is never gathered in the same room at the same time. There’s always one cabinet member who has to skip out on the inauguration or State of the Union address. If the worst-case scenario ever happened, we’d still have a legitimate head of state to keep government functioning.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Even the government knows that.
The Variables of WordPress Remote Backups
Before deciding on a WordPress remote backup solution, you should consider the variables involved in your backups. You’ve basically got four interrelated variables to keep in mind:
- Size – How large are your backups? Small sites won’t need a lot of storage space. But if you’ve got a huge site, maybe thousands of posts or a lot of media files, then you’ll have bigger storage needs. Do a test backup with BackupBuddy to see how big your files are before you decide on a remote backup solution.
- Frequency – How often do you want to back up your site? There’s a big difference in storage needs for monthly, weekly and daily backups. It’s simple math—the more you back up your site, the more space you’ll need.
- Time Frame – How long do you want to keep your backups? Maybe you only need the most recent backups. Thankfully BackupBuddy will automatically delete older backups for you to save space, depending on your settings. But if you need to keep your backups longer, that’s going to require more space.
- Full vs. Database – What kind of backups are you doing? BackupBuddy gives you the option of doing full or database-only backups. Full backups get your entire site, including images, theme files, customizations, plugins and more. It’s a perfect snapshot of your site as it currently exists and what you need to fully restore your site. A database backup is just the database—it’s your blog posts (minus the media). Full backups are a lot bigger and take more time. You definitely want to do full backups, but you also might do database backups more often to protect your latest content without taking the time or space to grab everything.
These variables all work together to determine how much space you need.
Your Remote WordPress Backup Strategy
Now that you understand the variables involved, let’s talk backup strategy. You need to create a plan of action so you can pick the best remote storage option.
You need a full backup to do a complete restoration of your site, but a database backup is all you need to save your latest content.
A typical approach is to do a database backup once a week and a full backup twice a month. Content changes more frequently, so you should do a database back up more often. Your site’s plugins and theme change less frequently, so you shouldn’t need to do a full backup as often.
But it depends on your site. If you update your content several times a day, a weekly database backup might not be good enough. If you have lots of images and media or you’re always adding new customizations, then you might want to do a full backup more frequently.
Your WordPress remote backup strategy should also be redundant. Don’t rely on a single backup or a single remote location. Again, it’s extreme, but you never want to put all your eggs in one basket.
Create a plan that protects your content and would allow you to get your site up and running again with a minimum of effort and lost content. Once you’ve got a strategy you’re ready to pick your WordPress remote backup solution.
WordPress Remote Backup Options
Just by using BackupBuddy you get a free remote storage solution with BackupBuddy Stash. Currently you get 1 GB of space for free. The account is already set up, just use your iThemes login info to get started.
Since Stash is already integrated into BackupBuddy, it’s quick and easy. If you need more space there are several affordable upgrade options.
The ecommerce giant offers Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). This is used for big time data needs, including companies like Netflix and Pinterest, but it can also work for simpler uses like backup.
Amazon currently has a free option and then charges based on usage, so depending on your needs it can be pretty affordable.
Dropbox is a popular online storage provider that offers some free space (currently 2 GB) and premium upgrades if you need more. If you’re already using Dropbox for other uses this can be a convenient solution.
But watch out for their API upload limit of 150 MB. If your backup files are bigger than that you’ll need something else.
Rackspace is another big time solution for scalable storage in the cloud. They have a GB per month plan where you pay for what you need.
You can also send your backups to an FTP server. This assumes you have some extra server space separate from where you host your WordPress site. If you’ve got extra space like that, why not use it for backup?
A final option for remote backup is to email yourself the files. This isn’t ideal for a few reasons, one of the big ones being that most email servers limit attachments to about 10 MB, which means you could only use it for small backups.
Another downside is that your email storage could be limited. Providers like Gmail and some hosts claim unlimited space, but others have limits or default quotas in place. At the very least you’ll want to check to see if any limits exist before you fill your space and shut down your email address.
A final downside is retrieval. Email isn’t exactly designed to be a file storage system, so you’re putting some odd demands on the system.
Email can be cheap and effective for small backups, but it’s probably not going to work for everybody.
Tip: Email can work if you get creative. One option is to set up a Gmail account just for backups. Gmail currently allows attachments up to 25 MB, so you could get slightly larger files and then rely on Gmail’s search feature to find the backup file you need.
Weighing Your WordPress Remote Backup Options
That’s a lot of options. Here are some things to consider as you make your WordPress remote backup decision:
- Cost – It always comes down to money. But in this case storage space is cheap. There are several free options and even if you need to pay, you can get 100 GB for less than $120 per year.
- Space – How much space do you need? Look at all the variables in your backup strategy and calculate how much space you need. While cost is important, this might be the deciding factor.
- Convenience – Backup is supposed to be something you don’t think about. Set it and forget it. So look for something easy. That might mean sticking with what you have, such as your Dropbox account or the integrated BackupBuddy Stash. Or it might mean going with a scalable solution so you don’t have to worry about space.
- Think Long Term – Pick a solution that’s going to work over the long haul. You don’t want to mess with your backup system in six months because you ran out of space. You also don’t want to rethink it in two years when you realize how much you’re paying in monthly costs. Make sure you can live with your solution months and even years down the road.
Now, Pick One
In the end what really matters is finding a WordPress remote backup solution that works for you. BackupBuddy Stash might be ideal because it’s already set up and it’s free with BackupBuddy. Or maybe you need more space and Amazon S3 is the way to go. Or maybe you already use Dropbox so it just makes sense.