No matter what kind of website you run, frequent backups are a necessity. With WordPress sites and blogs that's especially true because of the frequent core, theme, and plugin updates you have to perform. Having a fresh backup means you can revert all, or a part, of your site if something goes wrong during the update process (or if you're ever hacked).
Whenever I would run plugin updates my process was to log into my server's control panel and quickly back up my plugins folder, theme files, and database. While it's quick and easy on a case-by-case basis to do it that way or even use a database back up plugin, sometimes you need a more comprehensive backup than that.
That's when a plugin like Duplicator comes in handy. You can back up everything into one archive and download it.
Why Might You Need a Full Site Backup?
It isn't difficult to reinstall the WordPress core files from a fresh download. So why might you want a full site backup or clone that includes all of that plus your themes, plugins, and past uploads? Here are a few possibilities:
- You're upgrading from a seriously outdated version of the WordPress core and you want a backup in case you have to revert anything and try a different upgrade strategy later.
- You want to clone your website and move it into a local testing environment before making major changes (this is what I'm working on now for a few smaller sites being overhauled, using Duplicator and InstantWP).
- You want a full backup in case you're ever hacked (so you can compare files from the hacked version of the site to files from a time when the site was in working order to help you identify changes, new files, back doors left by the hacker, etc.).
The Duplicator plugin makes full site archiving and cloning easy. You can run a scan first to make sure everything is good to go and find out how big your files are before archiving. Then "create packages" which are your compressed downloadable archives. Here's an introductory video from the developer to explain how the process works.
Bonus Tip: If you run even a mid-sized site, I recommend deleting your "packages" from the server after you've downloaded them. Otherwise you run the risk of quickly using up server resources as you accumulate backup archives.
Have you ever needed a full backup or clone of your WordPress website? If so, how did you go about it or what tools did you use? Share your experiences in the comments below.