How to Backup WordPress Websites

How to Backup Wordpress

Want to know how to backup WordPress?

What I will present here is a step by step guide to make this process smoother.

Before we begin, it is very important we look at and understand the key components of WordPress. As an administrator, you can save yourself a lot of time by knowing, locating, and identifying what to backup, and what not to.

WordPress Components

There are five key components to be aware of.

  1. The WordPress core software
  2. The MySql Database
  3. Themes
  4. Plugins
  5. Media files

Each of these components will be discussed below.

WordPress Core Software

The core files do not have to be a part of the process as you backup WordPress.

If your site goes down for any reason, you can always download the current version at It is my recommendation that you should always redo your installation because you never know if your files have been hacked. A complete re-installation is the only way to make 100% sure to not have any further problems.

Besides, there is just way too many files to backup over to your local hard disk. There can be around 10,000+ files to FTP from your server down to your desktop. Just forget about backing up the WordPress distribution. Just re-install with a fresh set of files.

The MySql Database

The database is one of the most important things you need to backup WordPress. You must back this up regularly. I would suggest doing this on a bi-weekly basis.

The best way to do this is to use PhpMyAdmin. On many shared hosting and LAMP servers, this will be already installed.

PhpMyAdmin Quick Export

You just Quick Export the database over to a SQL text file. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to your cPanel, Plesk, or web administrator application
  2. Click on the PhpMyAdmin icon
  3. Along the left hand sidebar, click on your database name
  4. In the right hand pane at the top is a menu. Click on the Export tab.
  5. For the Export Method choose Quick
  6. Choose SQL Format
  7. Click on Go

A SQL file will be downloaded from your server to your local browser download folder.


WordPress plugins do not need to be backed up. Again, you are always responsible for running the current version of the plugins you have installed on your server. You should always upgrade or freshly install the current version from the Dashboard via the Plugin | Add New link. Also, keep a spreadsheet containing all the names of all plugins you have installed along with their versions.


Themes do not need to be part of the process if you backup WordPress. You should always have available the current theme version. Install through the Dashboard | Appearance | Themes | Add new interface if you need to.

In a spreadsheet, store the theme name and version for future reference.

Media Files

All your media assets are located in the /wp-content/uploads directory. You must back all of these files up. You do this by FTP’ing the files down to your local hard disk. Depending on the number of files, it can take a very long time, especially if you have lots of images which are represented in many different sizes due to a responsive design.

Use a drag and drop FTP program like FileZilla or MobaXterm. Both programs run on Linux or Windows. Of the two, I now prefer using MobaXterm because of its clean design and loads of useful features.

Backup WordPress Steps

  1. Create a folder with your website domain name
  2. Create a subfolder called “uploads”
  3. Create a subfolder called “database”
  4. Create a subfolder called “details”
  5. Store the database SQL file in the database folder
  6. FTP all your /wp-content/upload files to the uploads folder
  7. Store your spreadsheet in the details folder

It is recommended that you keep your backup on an external hard disk (of at least 1TB) and on a 64GB+ USB flash stick. Keep the USB stick in a safe location away, preferrably in a fire proof safe or at the bank vault for safekeeping.


In this article, we learned about the different set of components in WordPress. I took you through each component in detail and discussed whether it was necessary to backup that component or not. We talked about using a FTP client program to transfer your files over and how to backup WordPress files on your local hard disk and USB sticks for safe keeping.