How To Quickly Backup Large WordPress Databases

WordPress is an excellent system for managing a blog or website online. The security is just one aspect of the whole package you get with this CMS. However many developers and webmasters alike do not consider backing up new changes and keeping a local copy saved just in case of an emergency. It can become a very stressful situation when you are backing up tremendously large WordPress databases.

database servers technology computers stack interface

I want to present a few methods for keeping a local copy of large databases and WordPress websites. It will take some time and effort, but it is all worthwhile if you can manage to practice and keep yourself up-to-date. Restoring a WordPress website is almost easier than the backup process, and it helps if you can backup the entirety of your website from scratch. Then you will have everything copied locally which is a big sigh of relief to those who are concerned about data backups.

Custom Manual Backup

Nothing can beat the security of a manual WordPress backup. This is generally done in two parts where first you download a zipped/gzipped copy of your MySQL database from the server backend. Then you would FTP down a copy of all the files and folders in your website’s public_html. Check out this WP backup guide published on their website.

The process of restoring your website is easier when you have a complete backup to begin with. You would first need to create a new database on the new server and import all your settings as a zipped/gzipped SQL file. Then you should edit the wp-config.php file and update your database settings so it all connects. Then after FTPing your files up onto the new server, everything should run properly and work just like before.

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This process only comes with a downside of potentially renaming URLs in your relative install location. I personally have never dealt with this issue, even using sub-domains and hosting on existing accounts. The manual backup process will grant you full access to the most important data and still allows for a mirror image copy of the site to be reinstalled online.

UpdraftPlus Backup

Moving into the realm of WP plugins, UpdraftPlus Backup is a name I have seen mentioned plenty of times. It is free open source and updated to run properly with the latest WordPress 3.6 release. Note that there is a premium UpdraftPlus which you can purchase for $55 USD. It provides cloud backups along with local copies where you can download the database and the actual website files together.

Some of the supported cloud hosting options include Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, even email or SFTP(with add-ons). The number of solutions is amazing for just a small plugin. And you can even restore your website without the plugin by uploading the database and original website files onto your new hosting platform.

updraft plus wordpress backup data plugin wp-admin panel

The free version of this plugin works perfectly for what you might expect. I have not been using this on any particular projects, although you can always try it out and see how it works. The pro version is certainly worth the money if you like what can be done using the free alternative. But very few similar options will compare with UpdraftPlus.


Another common plugin is BackWPup which allows for scheduled database backups of your WordPress website. This is another free and open source plugin for WordPress users. And similarly this BackWPup plugin does have another pro version which costs $75 for a standard license, limited onto two domains. This is a bit more pricey than other alternatives and it will mostly cater to users who are already familiar with the system.

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The additional pro features are really not needed for everybody. They include API keys for various cloud hosting solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox. Plus there are some alternative wizards for users to customize the time of each scheduled backup. I think the free version is more than enough to keep your site backed up and running securely.

Simple Backup

The final backup plugin I want to mention is called Simple Backup. Like the others it has a free open source version available from the WordPress repository. And it also has a pro version called Simple Backup Ultra which was originally $50 USD, but as of writing this article it is on sale for $20. You will find many of the same features in the backend, yet the interface design is a whole lot simpler.

simple backup wordpress plugin open source backend admin panel

Hence the name Simple Backup – an easy solution for people who are not yet familiar with WordPress backups. This plugin is certainly for webmasters who are not comfortable backing up their own database manually. And Thankfully this plugin uses the most common standards for backup files.

This makes the process of restoring your WordPress website a lot easier because the files may be recognized by a wide assortment of Operating Systems. Simple Backup is my go-to choice for handling concise, clean backups without needing to manage the process via cPanel. You still need to FTP down a copy to store locally, but the entire backup and compression process is handled automatically through PHP.

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There are so many alternative plugins and methods which just don’t encapsulate the feelings of manual backups. Some hosting providers are nice enough to keep backups for you in the event of hard drive failure. But what if a majority of their drives fail, and your backups are lost too? This is when it comes in handy to keep a local secure database copy of your WordPress website.

I hope this guide may be of help to developers who have been in question about WordPress backups. It can take a long time – anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on the size of your website. Moving down files via FTP can be one of the longest tasks. Yet most of it is automated and should not present a major problem. If you have similar experience or questions on WordPress backups, feel free to share with us in the discussion area below.

Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a freelance writer and web developer. He writes articles for numerous blogs on freelancing, Wordpress, CSS3, and jQuery. You can find him all throughout Google and follow his tweets @<a href="">jakerocheleau</a>. Connect with Jake on <a href="">Google +</a>

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