If your website is a self-hosted installation of WordPress, you likely already know that you should keep everything updated to help keep the hackers out of your site.
But you might not be doing them regularly because this warning — “Important: before updating, please back up your database and files.” — scares you that something could go wrong if you touch that Update button.
And you would be right to worry.
Just a couple of weeks ago, one of my clients ran the updates herself without a backup and created a bunch of work for me.
The update to her theme changed how things were displayed on her website. I was able to recreate everything, but it took about 3 hours of work.
Then, on the very same site just a week later, she updated WordPress and we lost access to the Dashboard. The only fix for that update issue was a complete reinstall of the site!
It’s a good thing that she DID have a backup! Otherwise, she’d be looking at completely rebuilding her site from scratch.
So now that I know how important backups are, I’ve been looking for a backup system that is both inexpensive and easy to use.
That is no small feat!
I also want the backups to be stored off-site, meaning not on my server.
This website — Conversation2Sales.com — was hacked last year. The hackers were sophisticated and hacked the backups that my hosting company had made of my site as well since they were easily accessed on the same server. Luckily, I had off-site backups so it only took me about 2 hours to get my site restored. Without that backup, I would have been facing a complete rebuild. Not a pleasant thought.
But the backup system that I use doesn’t work that well for sites larger than about 100MB and I want a system that works for ALL OF MY CLIENTS, even the one that has over 200 MB of data.
So I was on the search for WordPress backup service that:
- Stored backups off-site
- Was easy to use for the non-technical
- Backed up daily
- Was affordable
And I think I found it: VaultPress
The same people who created WordPress are behind this project as well so they deeply understand the needs of the WordPress community. And they recently released a Lite version so it’s more affordable for more people.
- Sign up for an account. The Backup Bundle will run you $9/month per site.
- Install the plugin on your site. Installation is easy. Simply search Vaultpress in the Install Plugins section of your dashboard, install and activate. Then, copy and paste in your activation code from your Vaultpress.com account.
- Make your first backup. As soon as you complete the install, your initial backup starts immediately. Depending on how large your site it, this could take from 30 minutes to several days. I tried it out on a site with limited content and it took less than an hour. I expect that for most blogs, it would take at least several hours to complete this initial backup.
But once you have a backup done, you can restore your site selectively:
The restore is done via FTP, so you’ll need to either get these credentials from your hosting company or access your account and create one yourself. You’ll want to make sure the FTP account that you use has direct access to the folder for your site. If you have only one site, this is easy, but it gets a bit more complicated if you have multiple sites hosted in the same account. Look for a path that looks something like /home/username/yoursite.com.
I tried out the VaultPress service on non-production blog that I use for training:
- The initial backup was created in about 20 minutes (you can do other things while it runs).
- After it created the backup, I ran the needed updates: two plugins, one theme, and WordPress.
- Then, I restored the theme files. Viola, the site needed an update again — restore successful!
- And finally, I restored the plugins. Now, the site is back to needing its updates!
All in all, I was very impressed with how easy the whole process was to complete. Setting up the account was easy too. The only challenge that I ran into was my first attempt at restoring the backup didn’t work because VaultPress couldn’t connect to my server. But that problem was easy to fix once I created a new FTP account that had direct access to the right folder on my server.
I’m going to recommend this service to all of my clients. The service is just $99 a year if you pay for the whole year at a time… that’s a pretty cheap price for peace of mind. Besides, if you ever need it, you’ll see it as money well spent.
I only have one complaint and that is that each website you own requires it’s own subscription. So if you have multiple sites like I do, it could add up fast.
I’ll end with a couple of tips that will help you make the most of VaultPress or any other backup service:
- Uninstall themes and plugins that you aren’t using. These extra unnecessary files make the whole backup — and restore — process take longer.
- Clean up your database. The content of your website is composed of both the files on your server and a database. WordPress itself and your plugins use the database to store all kinds of data; when you delete plugins, most will also delete their database tables. But some do not and leave their tables behind. Use a tool like WP DB Springclean to remove the tables your site no longer needs and keep you database from growing larger than necessary. The smaller the database, the faster the backup and restore.
My final analysis: Yes, if you have a self-hosted WordPress site, VaultPress IS worth it.
Note: I am not connected to VaultPress in any way and did not receive any compensation for this review, nor will I receive any compensation if you purchase VaultPress based on this post.