How to Backup your WordPress Website Automatically for Free

by | Jul 15, 2022 | WordPress Security

If you have a WordPress website and want to DIY your backups, my favorite free solution for that is using the UpdraftPlus plugin and Dropbox. Here’s how:

Go to your website and log in to your WordPress administrator Dashboard.

Once you are logged in as an administrator, navigate to the Plugins menu in the left sidebar of the dashboard. Go to Plugins > Add New.

In the search bar, type UpdraftPlus (all one word) and press enter to search.
Look for the plugin called UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin. It should look something like this:

UpdraftPlus Plugin for WordPress website backups

Click the Install Now button in the upper-right corner of the box. 

Once installation is complete, you’ll notice this button has changed to an Activate button. Click the Activate button to enable the plugin on your site.

– We’re halfway there! – 

Now we just need to connect the plugin to DropBox and set a schedule for backups! In the left sidebar menu of your WordPress admin dashboard go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups

Click the Settings tab. Next to where it says “Choose your remote storage”, you’ll see lots of options for storing your backups in the cloud. I find that connecting to Dropbox is easiest for most users. Select Dropbox and then scroll to the very bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

At this point, a popup menu will appear letting you know that you need to authorize the plugin. Click the link in the popup and you’ll be redirected to Dropbox. Click Authorize, and then Complete
You may need to re-login to WordPress one more time to complete the connection. After doing so, you should see an alert letting you know that your UpdraftPlus plugin is now connected to Dropbox!

Running a Manual Backup

There are times you may wish to do a manual backup of your site. For example, if you have updates needing to be installed, you always want to make a backup before installing them. Initiating a manual backup is super easy!
Login to your WordPress admin dashboard. Go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups. On the “Backup/Restore” tab, click the big blue button that says Backup.

Recommended backup settings for manual UpdraftPlus backups in WordPress

Make sure you’ve selected all the checkboxes indicated in the image above to backup your database and files, and transfer them to Dropbox. Once you’ve confirmed your selections, click the Backup Now button.

You’ll see a progress bar and activity log as your site backup progresses. Depending on the size of your site, it may take several minutes to complete.

Configuring Automatic Backups

Now you can make manual backups, but what if you want to make sure your website is backed up regularly just in case? (Always a good idea!) 

To set up automatic backups:
Login to your WordPress admin dashboard. Go to Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups. Click the “Settings” tab.

At the top of the settings tab, change the Files and Database backup schedules from Manual to Daily or Weekly. For sites that have frequent updates, I recommend daily backups. For websites that are updated less frequently, I recommend weekly.

Backup schedule settings for manual UpdraftPlus backups in WordPress

Then decide how many backups you want to retain. 

Further down on the settings page, be sure that you have checked the boxes next to Plugins, Themes, Uploads and Any other directories found inside wp-content.

Recommended automatic backup settings for manual UpdraftPlus backups in WordPress

Finally, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes. Now your site will start backing up at regular intervals based on your settings.

If you want more granular control of what days and times backups are run, you can upgrade to UpdraftPlus Premium.

So, WHY backup your WordPress website?

*Clutches hands to chest* Don’t SAY that!

Drama aside, I can’t stress enough how vital it is that you’re backing up your WordPress site as part of regular maintenance. Though rare, all sorts of things can go wrong: incompatibilities with plugin or theme updates you install, malware issues, or even just mistakenly deleting a post or page that you worked hard on. You can save yourself a LOT of headaches if you have a backup to restore from.

Don’t just trust that your web host or the person who setup your website has you covered for maintenance and backups. Be sure to ASK and be certain that both are being done on a regular basis. Need help? Check out my plans for maintenance and support.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links provided, I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you for this, but it helps support my site and allows me to keep creating content to share!

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