Keeping a current backup of your WordPress site is vital. But do you really need to include everything in your backup?
The answer is a most definite no! There are some things which will not only bloat your backup, but can slow it down, or even stop it, too.
For instance, maybe BackupBuddy isn’t the first backup solution that you tried out. If you still have another backup plugin installed, or even if you removed the backup plugin, there could still be a directory of backups on your WordPress site.
You will definitely want to exclude any such directories from your BackupBuddy backup.
How do I know what to exclude from my backup?
The best way to know what to exclude from your WordPress backup is to know what files and folders actually make up a WordPress installation.
Just because a folder or file appears in your public_html folder does not mean it is a necessary part of your WordPress site.
Having host created directories/files is very common apart from your own files – the GoDaddy /stats/ directory being a prime example.
Try setting up a clean WordPress localhost install so you can see what exactly is included your basic WordPress installation, including:
- the default WordPress core files,
- WordPress plugin files
- WordPress theme files
- your WordPress database
- WordPress media library files
You can also checkout the WordPress codex to see a list of the files included in your WordPress installation.
What are some examples of things I should exclude from my WordPress backup?
There are a few things you should consider excluding from your backup file, including:
- Data Directories from WordPress caching plugins
- Directories with Temporary Files
- Subdomains/Add-on Domains
And why should you exclude these?
Data Directories from Caching plugins – In general, it is best to exclude any cache data directory as there is little point in restoring or migrating such a directory (tree) as it will be rebuilt anyway. Additionally, some such directory trees can contain tens of thousands of files which may not be a huge data size, but massive effort just to read them all.
Directories with Temporary Files – Similar are directories that may not be true cache directories, but may contain temporary files or files which cannot be read. BackupBuddy is good at halting a backup if a file to be included in a backup cannot be read, so as not to create a backup that might be missing something that is expected to be present.
For example, captcha type plugins like many contact form plugins use will often have a directory where they auto-generate the graphic you see and the associated text that it shows.
These files will only be present for the duration of the “I am a human” check, but, again, if coinciding with a backup, the files may be listed to be backed up, but not present when it comes to read them.
Subdomains/Add-on Domains Directories – When you create subdomains/add-on domains, many shared hosting setups (especially those using cPanel) set up additional sites as a subdirectory of the main site by default. So each time a new site is added it could be adding a new subdomain to be backed up on the main website.
Including these adds a large amount of bulk, and therefore time, to your backup. We recommend instead that you back up each of these sites individually, which makes it easier to restore or move them where you’d like. Restoring or migrating a site is also easier when there is less bulk in the backup.
BackupBuddy does warn you when other WordPress installations within your site detected, but they are not excluded automatically. You should exclude these whenever possible.
Is there anything else I should exclude?
Every WordPress site is different, so it’s hard to say explicitly what you should exclude.
BackupBuddy has a tool to help you determine what to exclude from your backup.
If you go into BackupBuddy > Server Information, under the Files tab, you’ll find a Directory Size Map and Directory Size Listing.
These tools allow you to see what is taking up the most space on your WordPress site.
The Directory Size Map gives you an actual picture of your site, the different directories and their sizes.
The Directory Size Map is a very useful tool when hunting down directories that are using a lot of space.
You can also view the Directory Size Listing which gives you each directory along with their size. It also shows you any directories that you have exclude and how that affects your overall backup size.
Having a backup is a must for your site. However, it is not a must that everything is included in your backup file. So be sure to look over your site and exclude any unnecessary files in your BackupBuddy settings.
Elise likes to say she supports the support team here at iThemes. Her job is to make sure the support team has everything they need and to help them out any way she can. When not working, Elise spends time with her two dogs (Iggy Pup and Bowie) and her cat (Indie), her three nephews or her “little sister.” She has an English Literature degree and still spends a lot of her time reading, especially the classics. She also enjoys baking treats for the iThemes office!