Written by on

A Look Back on 4 Years of BackupBuddy


This month, BackupBuddy turns four years old. Birthdays are always a little sentimental, even for a WordPress backup plugin. So to celebrate, we thought we’d cover a few of the highlights of the past four years.

When BackupBuddy first launched in 2010, none of us could have known how it would go. Sometimes products can meet a need, but not really resonate with users. We just knew a WordPress backup solution was important work. When your livelihood is built online and you live, breathe and sweat WordPress, protection of your site is serious business. We knew this from experience.

Looking back, we couldn’t have imagined how BackupBuddy would grow from a solution we made after a server crash to protecting WordPress sites around the world. Since BackupBuddy launched, each year has included a major version release with new features to make your life easier as we continue to build and improve BackupBuddy.

2009: From Server Crashes, Tacos, and Coffee — The Birth of BackupBuddy

The idea for BackupBuddy started after we experienced a complete hard drive failure in November 2009. Later, Matt, our COO, provided this in-depth analysis/pictorial history of the epic iThemes server fail.


We lost everything. We mean everything. ALL of our sites went down, including several client sites. So for the next 48 hours, each site was rebuilt from scratch — fueled on nothing but coffee and bags of tacos.

At the time, WordPress didn’t offer any complete backup solutions. In both of our failure cases, we needed entire directory and file backups for complete site recovery.

Building BackupBuddy: The Four Main Ingredients

Based on our experience, we knew WordPress backups required four very important ingredients:

  1. Complete Database + Files: A database backup wasn’t enough because it wasn’t a complete backup. WordPress backups need to include all the files included in the site’s installation — including themes, plugins and actual media files — which aren’t covered by a database backup alone.
  2. Convenient to Create: Sure, it’s possible to manually make copies of your site’s files from the command line. But it’s a complicated process if you want more customization. Backups should be easy and convenient to create so 1) they actually happen and 2) you don’t waste time doing them.
  3. Quickly + Easy Restore: What good is a backup if you can’t actually restore your site? Restoring is an important component of backups, but it shouldn’t be difficult or hard to get a site up again.
  4. Trustworthy + Reliable: Backups aren’t something you can get wrong. Backups protect you from risk of a site loss, so they better be dependable.

The development for BackupBuddy started in January of 2010, and in just two months, lead developer Dustin Bolton built the first release candidate for BackupBuddy.

Check out one of the original concepts for the BackupBuddy logo.


Official BackupBuddy Launch – March 2010

BackupBuddy officially launched on March 4, 2010 with the ability to run complete backups, restore and schedule backups. We dug up the official BackupBuddy launch video with Cory, Dustin and Matt (from the old iThemesTV studio).

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.47.15 PM

The idea of BackupBuddy was to create a plugin that finally made backing up an entire WordPress install as simple as possible, to make restoring that backup possible and just as simple, and to make migrating the WordPress site no more difficult than restoring a backup.
— Chris Jean, BackupBuddy: A Product Launch Story

As with all product launches, BackupBuddy faced some initial challenges and bugs related to the diverse server configurations of users. Within four days of BackupBuddy’s launch, the team developed ServerBuddy to help identify potential server problems for customers and speed up support for BackupBuddy. Today, ServerBuddy functionality is built into BackupBuddy (so it’s no longer a separate plugin), but it still remains an important way for our support team to identify server issues for customers.

The First BackupBuddy Dashboard

Fun fact: when BackupBuddy first launched, WordPress was at version 2.9.2. The first BackupBuddy dashboard included the ability to run a complete backup, download the importbuddy.php script and run scheduled backups. Anyone remember this?

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.12.28 PM

BackupBuddy 2.0: Remote Destination Support and Server Tools

The following April, BackupBuddy 2.0 released with a more streamlined flow & better usability, all based on feedback from customers. Within the first year of release, BackupBuddy added support for remote destinations for your backups, like email, Amazon S3, Rackspace and FTP. Based on support requests, BackupBuddy’s server tools were implemented as a core BackupBuddy feature.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 2.32.57 PM

From 2011 Archive: A BackupBuddy Promo Video

We found this great promo video from 2011, starring Josh, Brad, Dustin and Cory. Enjoy.

BackupBuddy to the Rescue Photo Contest – March 2012

One of our favorite BackupBuddy promos was the BackupBuddy to the Rescue Photo Content. We got some hilarious entries that helped us celebrate BackupBuddy’s 2nd Birthday.


Magic Migration – June 2012

Magic Migration arrived in June of 2012 with BackupBuddy 3.0. With Magic Migration, BackupBuddy made it possible to move WordPress sites from within the Dashboard by automatically transferring the backup files and walking you through the migration steps.


Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 2.32.11 PM

BackupBuddy Crosses 100,000 Site Licenses – June 19, 2012

Within a few days of launching 3.0, BackupBuddy crossed 100,000 site licenses.


Back then, the sales page looked something like this.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 3.21.19 PM

BackupBuddy Stash Arrives – Oct 2012

BackupBuddy 3.1 launched with support for BackupBuddy Stash, our own secure, off-site and easy storage destination for your BackupBuddy backups.

Remote storage of your backup files has always been an important component of a solid backup strategy. By providing BackupBuddy Stash, all BackupBuddy users could automatically have a way to send their backups off-site with their free BackupBuddy Stash storage space.


Individual File Restores – June 2013

To make restoring from backups even easier and more convenient, BackupBuddy 4.0 included individual file restore capabilities.

The BackupBuddy 4.0 update made it possible to view a listing of files and directories backed up in backup archives (along with size and the date last modified), view contents of text-based files (.php, .html, .htaccess, etc.) and restore files to their original location (undelete or “roll back” a file).


Remote Backups with iThemes Sync – Feb. 2014

BackupBuddy integration with iThemes Sync made it possible to make remote backups from the Sync Dashboard. With this integration, Sync made it possible to view number of edits since your last backup, download your latest backup zip files and more and manage your BackupBuddy Stash storage space.


What’s Next for BackupBuddy?

BackupBuddy is central to our 2014 goal to Go Far Together. We’re committed to helping protect your online assets with BackupBuddy and also our soon-to-be released iThemes Security plugin. We also want to help you be more productive by providing tools that help you do more (or less) faster and better.

Today, we’re really proud to say that BackupBuddy is running on over 300,000 WordPress sites. Stay tuned for new improvements to BackupBuddy like database rollback (currently in beta now), an overhaul of the ImportBuddy UI and our new Sync iPhone App that will integrate with BackupBuddy functionality.

Thanks for an incredible 4 years — here’s to many more!


  1. Happy Backup Buddy B-Day!

    Any chance you can offer a sweet discount for the Backup Buddy Unlimited License?

    I already have all the dev suite plugins that I bought last year – which work great for the ones I use.

    I’d like to celebrate your BB B-Day with ya and pick up your up-to-date backup buddy! :)

  2. Yes, BackupBuddy is great. I use it for creating duplicates of sites, which I then modify. This saves a lot of time of having to set everything up from scratch.

  3. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!!! Thank you for putting in all the hard work and hours into the product and the support.

    Because of Backup Buddy, in 2012, I was able to transform my web agency business from chasing one project after another to monthly recurring income.

    Since it now takes a fraction of the time to get a client launched, clients are happy because they’re launched in less than a day rather than weeks and I’m in profit from day 1.

    Win – win for everybody!

  4. I love the story of how BackupBuddy came to be (almost as much as the plugin itself).
    To me it is the perfect example of how an epic failure always contains within in it the potential for extraordinary opportunity. :)

  5. You guys saved my life! I used to get hacked all time and when I did I would have to restore from a super old backup (a few months old) because I was too lazy to backup my sites manually. Now, if it happens, I have a handy backup in place so it just takes minutes to restore. I love you guys! Thank you for the hard work you put into creating this. I recommend you guys to everyone I know. I can actually relax now.

    Annnnnnnnd not to mention the genius idea you gave me! I am no longer setting up a wordpress site from scratch anymore (what was I thinking)!! Now I set it up from my backups and it saved WEEKS of work!

    Thank you so much!!!! Anna xo



Sale Ends Today! Save 35% OFF BackupBuddy with coupon code BACKUPWP35