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How to backup a website

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Vika Fedoseenko
Content manager

Everyone knows that you need to make backups but not everyone does.

We found 3 ways to backup a WordPress website and any other website: through FileZilla, control panels, and backup services.

What a website backup is, and why you need it

A backup is a reserve copy of data. You need it in case something happens to the original. You accidentally hit the «Delete» button, your desktop catches on fire or armageddon arrives — don’t worry. If you have a copy, the lost data can be easily recovered.

Any valuable data needs backups: family photos, email correspondence, work documents. But especially websites. And there are three reasons for that.

  1. Unreliable hosting. A website is a file set that is stored on a server. Servers, as well as any other computers, tend to break down. Monitoring employees tend to make mistakes. Software crashes. Any of these problems can cost you a website.
  2. Hackers. Stories about competitors who infiltrated a website and left a «John is stupid» message or just deleted everything are rare, of course. Usually, viruses harm websites. And one way to get rid of them is to restore a clean backup.
  3. Our imperfections. Owners themselves threaten their websites more than unreliable hostings and hackers. «Accidentally deleted», «clicked on the wrong button», «changed everything and now want everything back» — people aren’t perfect, and we tend to make mistakes. A website with no backup is unforgiving.

It’s not a big deal to lose a makeshift website you created in five minutes. It’s a shame if you paid for development, photos, and texts; attracted visitors through advertising; set everything up. It’s even more painful to lose a platform that is regularly visited by thousands of customers. That’s why if you value your website, you need to make backups.

Why nobody makes backups

We are exaggerating, of course. Actually, lots of people make backups. Experienced admins configure backups first.

Admins even jokingly divide each other into two groups: «those who make backups, and those who already make backups». «Already», because a data loss is a thing you are not going to forget. It’s like with a stove when we were kids: touch it once, and you won’t get near it again. Get a website broken with no backup at the Christmas Eve, and you’ll learn to configure backups. We even have a story about that.

«In college, I moonlighted at a company, and it had a website. Google Maps weren’t as common at the time and many users visited the website for help. And I wasn’t as skilled at Linux yet, and I accidentally deleted half sections of the website, and there was no backup. To make matters worse, I did it on New Years eve and didn’t notice it. The website was down all the holiday. I regretted it very much!»

Ivan Litvintsev, Vepp project manager

But there are some less experienced admins. They don’t make backups not only due to their laziness and ignorance but also for other reasons. Generally, everyone wants to skimp on something.

Skimp on resources. A backup is a copy of all the files on a website. It takes up as much space as the original. If your website is 1GB in size, a backup will be a bit smaller. The process of making a backup requires resources. If you start to backup at the attendance peak, your website will slow down. So, this reason isn’t far fetched, backing up really does require resources.

Skimp on time. Some people don’t know how to backup a website, and they think that only admins are capable of doing that. They also believe that there is no way to find an admin, and even if you do, he’ll ask for tons of gold. Indeed, some knowledge is required, and there are cases when you won’t be able to make do without a professional’s help. But the problem can be solved if you choose one of the methods we described in the article and spend an hour of your time.

How to backup a website

There are many ways to solve the backup problem.

Free or almost free

The backup cost consists of two parts: the cost of a place where the backup is stored, and backup setup work.

If you want to save some space, you can save your backups to your desktop or laptop. You’d better use cloud storage — Google Drive or Dropbox. If storage is already paid for other tasks, it can still be adjusted for backups. If not — pay the starting rate or use complimentary gigabytes.

In order to save some money setting up, use free services.

FileZilla and phpMyAdmin

These are free services anyone can download. FileZilla manages files, phpMyAdmin manages databases. Yes, about that, you are really going to have to copy databases and files separately. It is certainly not the easiest method and not the most reliable one (you’ll have to control backup relevance yourself). But it’s the cheapest one: you won’t have to pay for anything at all.

Control panel

A website control panel is an online service that allows you to configure a domain, an email inbox, and backups. It usually comes along with hosting, and thus you don’t need to pay for it separately. It’s easier to set backups up through a panel rather than using FileZilla and phpMyAdmin. Furthermore, it is more reliable because the panel backs your files and databases up by itself and on a schedule — you won’t have to take part in it at all.

Easy or almost easy

The methods described above will require some involvement after all. If you are not ready to dive into various instructions but you are willing to pay — here’s a couple of easy ways for you.

Buy additional backup service from a hosting provider

A hosting provider is a company that allows website owners to rent a place for their storage. Usually, hosting companies provide backup service. The easiest way is to buy it. The staff will set everything up, and it will work. You will only need to pay on schedule. The cost depends on the provider’s requirements and the size of the backup.

Buy additional backup service from a hosting provider

A hosting provider is a company that allows website owners to rent a place for their storage. Usually, hosting companies provide backup service. The easiest way is to buy it. The staff will set everything up, and it will work. You will only need to pay on schedule. The cost depends on the provider’s requirements and the size of the backup.

Pay for cloud service

There are special applications for backups. They are used when it’s important for backups to be made often and to contain all the latest updates. You’ll have to pay for the service itself and for the storage if it hasn’t been paid for yet. Sometimes, backup service includes some cloud space.

Variant 1. «Manual» backup through FileZilla and phpMyAdmin

FileZilla copies files, phpMyAdmin copies databases. Every website has files but it’s not the case for databases. However, a website with no database is more of an exception. For example, every WordPress website is sure to have one.

In order to make a backup, you need to configure the connection from your software to the hosting and then copy the data.

Files backup through FileZilla

Step 1. Download and install FileZilla. Download the software on the official website and install it according to the instructions.

 

That is what installed FileZilla looks likeThis is what installed FileZilla looks like

Step 2. Connect FileZilla to your website. Launch FileZilla and enter the access data in the corresponding fields. Click on the Fast connection button. Done!

FileZilla

You can find your login, password, and IP address for FTP access in an email from the hosting provider.

Step 3. Create a folder for the backup. Create a folder for the backup on your PC. Name it «Website backup from 00.00.0000 (current date)». Open the new folder in the left part of the FileZilla explorer.

Step 4. Launch backup. Select files and folders of your website, click on them with the right mouse button and then hit Download. The software will start moving them to the folder you’ve just created on your device. Wait for the backup to complete.

FilezillaFileZilla is copying website files to a folder on a local computer

Database backup through phpMyAdmin

Step 1. Open phpMyAdmin

If you have a website with a database, you also have phpMyAdmin. You just need to open it. You can do it in a few ways.

  1. Follow the link http://localhost/phpmyadmin/, where instead of localhost you need to enter the IP address of your hosting. It may look like a set of numbers: 00.00.00.01, or like a third level domain name, for example: server1.hosting.ru.
  2. Go to phpMyAdmin from the website control panel. If you have Vepp, this is how you can do it: open Website Settings Databases phpMyAdmin.

As a result, a phpMyAdmin authorization window will open. This is what it looks like:

phpMyAdmin authorization windowphpMyAdmin authorization window

Step 2. Sign in. Take the data from the same hosting provider email. You need access to SQL: login and password. Enter it in the authorization form.

phpMyAdmin interface after authorizationphpMyAdmin interface after authorization

Step 3. Find a database and make a backup. In the top menu on the phpMyAdmin main page find the Databases section and go there. Select the required database and click Export. Leave the settings unchanged and hit Go. phpMyAdmin will save the database on your PC.

Once you hit the «Go» button, phpMyAdmin will save the database in the downloads folderOnce you hit the «Go» button, phpMyAdmin will save the database in the downloads folder

In order to restore a website from a backup, you’ll have to manually upload files and a database to a hosting. Files are transferred through FileZilla, a database — through phpMyAdmin.

Variant 2. Backup through a control panel

You are going to require a cloud and a website control panel.

Choose a place

You can rent «a cloud» or another server.

Cloud storages are well-knows services that some people use to store their photos and others store their work documents. They are different cost-wise and have different interfaces.

  1. Google Drive.
  2. Dropbox.
  3. Amazon S3.
  4. iCloud

You can buy another server from the same or from a different provider. You can connect it to a control panel, and backups will be created on a remote server.

Configure a panel

Control panels usually come along with hosting, that’s why you don’t need to pay for them again. A panel is something you get access to a website with. It’s easily recognized by the authorization window. They do change from one generation to another but very slightly.

cPanel ISPmanager Plesk Vepp
сPanel ISPmanager Plesk Vepp

All control panels have tools that allow us to make backups. Some of them, for example, ISPmanager and Vepp, make it easy for users to create backups right in the interface. Others, like cPanel, make you perform some dark rituals before configuring a web server environment and running scripts.

The easiest way to set up backups is through Vepp. This panel only supports backups in local storage but everything is easy there: jus hit Create more on the website card in the «Backup» widget. The panel will copy both the files and the database all by itself.

VeppThe website card in Vepp. You can make a backup here in one click

If you have one of the other panels and you want to set up cloud backups, read documentation:
Backups in Plesk
Backups in cPanel
Backups in ISPmanager

Variant 3. Backup services

Another way to make backups is to pay for a special service. It’s not always profitable but if you can afford it, why don’t you give it a try. Usually, backup services include payment for cloud space.

BackupGuard

It makes backups on a schedule, notifies of their creation, stores data in its cloud. The important function it has is called an incremental backup. It means that the service won’t make a copy of the whole website every time. It will make one full backup and then will only save changes. This way the backup will take up less space.

This app needs to be downloaded on a desktop and given access to your website and database. It connects to the website via FTP and to the database via TCP/IP.

It costs $9,95 a month for 10GB.

DropMySite

It supports backup planning, one-click restoration, copy download. An additional feature it has is the website availability and blacklist hit monitoring. The service checks whether your website was blacklisted and if it was, notifies you about it.

DropMySite works online, it doesn’t need to be downloaded. It will be enough to sign up and give it access to your website and database. It connects to websites via FTP, SFTP or RSYNC. It downloads files on its storage.

It costs $29,99 a year for 10GB

Handy Backup

A huge service that is used to backup not only websites but also other types of data. It supports scheduled backups, encryption, and backup compression.

You need to download the Handy Backup app and give it access to your website and server. You can backup to your server, to any other cloud storage or to a cloud (you’ll need to pay some extra).

A lifetime license subscription is going to cost you 1200 Р + $4,95 a month for 10GB

Don’t tempt your fate, make backups

  1. You don’t have a control panel and are ready to get a bit confused — create backups manually.
  2. If you have a panel, do it through it.
  3. If you don’t want to get confused — use paid services.
  4. Use free space on cloud storage you already paid for or rent a server for your backups.
Vika Fedoseenko
Content manager