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Taking a WordPress Backup: With or Without a Plugin?

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One of the most critical tasks for any WordPress website owner is ensuring the safety and security of their content. A reliable backup strategy can save you from potential disasters like data loss, hacking, or technical glitches. When it comes to taking backups, WordPress offers two primary methods: using a plugin or doing it manually. In this article, we’ll explore both options, helping you make an informed decision on which approach suits your needs best.

Backing Up with a Plugin

Plugins make most tasks in WordPress more accessible, and backup is no exception. Here are some advantages of using a plugin:

  1. User-Friendly Interface: Most backup plugins come with intuitive dashboards, making it easy for users of all levels to navigate and initiate backups.
  2. Automation: Many plugins offer scheduled backups, allowing you to set it and forget it. This ensures your site is regularly backed up without manual intervention.
  3. Incremental Backups: Some plugins offer incremental backups, which means they only backup changed files or database entries, reducing the server load and backup time.
  4. Easy Restoration: Plugins often provide simple restoration options, making it hassle-free to recover your site in case of a mishap.
  5. Additional Features: Backup plugins may include other features like site migration, security scans, and more, making them a multifunctional solution.

Some popular backup plugins include UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and VaultPress (now part of Jetpack).

Steps to Backup with a Plugin:

  1. Install and activate your chosen backup plugin.
  2. Configure backup settings, including frequency and storage location.
  3. Initiate the backup process manually or schedule automatic backups.

Backing Up Without a Plugin (Manual Method)

For those who prefer more control and a hands-on approach, manual backups are a viable option. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Access Your Server: Log in to your hosting account or use an FTP client to connect to your server.
  2. Backup Files: Copy all your WordPress files from the server to your local computer. This includes themes, plugins, uploads, and core files.
  3. Database Backup: Export your WordPress database using phpMyAdmin or a similar tool provided by your hosting provider.
  4. Secure Storage: Store both the files and the database backup in a secure location, preferably off-site. This could be cloud storage, an external hard drive, or a remote server.
  5. Restoration: In case of a disaster, manually upload the files and import the database backup to restore your website.

Pros of Manual Backups:

  1. Complete Control: You have full control over what gets backed up and where it’s stored.
  2. No Dependency: You don’t rely on a plugin, which can be beneficial if a plugin becomes incompatible or has issues.

Cons of Manual Backups:

  1. Complexity: The process is more technical and may not be suitable for beginners.
  2. Time-Consuming: Manual backups can be time-consuming, especially for larger websites.


Whether you choose to backup your WordPress website with a plugin or manually, the most crucial aspect is to have a reliable backup strategy in place. The method you select should align with your technical skills, preferences, and the specific needs of your website. Remember that a backup is only as good as its restore process, so make sure you’re comfortable with both creating and restoring backups using your chosen method. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure your WordPress site remains safe and recoverable in the face of unexpected challenges.

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