“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”. When this idiom was first spoken, we doubt they had WordPress websites in mind; however it perfectly sums up the importance of backing up your websites.
Bad things can happen. WordPress websites are attacked by malicious scripts every day. These scripts can use your website to spam thousands of people every day. They can also bring down your website.
It is not just hackers and spammers you need to worry about. Hosting companies can experience outages, floods, electrical problems and more. If your only backup is located within the same data center, any major incident that occurs there could mean that your website and the backup of your website are lost. This effectively drops the value of your website to zero.
And let us not forget about human error.
Due to these issues, it is important to always backup your website to an external location such as Amazon S3 or your personal computer.
Today we would like to talk about the backup service we have been using for the last few years. That service is VaultPress; the automated backup service from Automattic (the developers of WordPress).
VaultPress is a backup service that automatically backs up your website in real time. It also supports WordPress Multisite, WordPress MU and BuddyPress. Backups are stored on the same servers that are used for storing WordPress.com websites; so you can be sure of their reliability.
In order to backup your website, VaultPress needs to connect to your website. You do this using a WordPress plugin.
Backups and restores are handled through the main VaultPress website, however once you have activated the plugin and logged in with your WordPress.com account, you will see a summary of your website backups (note: VaultPress sometimes refers to backups as “snapshots”).
We use the basic VaultPress plan on our company blog. This offers realtime backups; which works out at around one full backup every hour. The lite backup plan only backs up a website once a day.
If you are logged in at VaultPress.com using your WordPress.com account, you will be redirected to your VaultPress dashboard.
The basic plan for VaultPress will keep backups for as long as you have been using the service. This allows you to view a backup from any hour, day, week, month or year. It is a truly astounding feature of VaultPress that sets it apart from the competition.
When something goes wrong, most website owners will use the latest backup of their website, however you can locate a backup from any time via a user friendly calendar system.
Downloads and restores work in the same way. You can select whether to download or restore your database, plugins, themes and uploads. Important files such as .htaccess and wp-config.php are always included when you download a backup, regardless of what you select.
That is all there is to it. One click and you can restore your website fully.
Once you click on the download or restore button, VaultPress will get to work and start preparing your files for download or restoration.
In the example below, my files are ready for download. As such, the grey download button has changed to blue.
Your files can then be downloaded to your computer as a zip file.
Whether you choose to restore your database and files, or download them to your computer; VaultPress will email you to confirm. This is useful as larger databases take longer to download and restore.
VaultPress has a stats page that shows you your website “Vitality”. This allows you to see when you are most productive (when posts are published) and when your website is most popular (when comments are posted by visitors).
In the settings area you can define how your website connects to VaultPress. There are a number of options available including SSH, FTP and HTTP authorization. Additional users can also be added on this page. Be sure to only authorize people who you trust as access to VaultPress allows them to restore your website to any point in its history (i.e. they could overwrite your current database with an older version).
VaultPress offers three pricing plans. Plans can be downgraded, upgraded or cancelled at any time. There are no long-term contracts to sign up for.
Each plan features one click restores and downloads.
Lite ($5/month or $55/year) – Daily backups and a 30 day backup archive.
Basic ($15/month or $165/year) – Realtime backups (hourly) and backups from the first day you signed up to the VaultPress service.
Premium ($40/month or $440/year) – Same features as the basic plan except with daily security scans of your website.
We personally use the basic plan for our blog and the lite plan for two smaller websites that are not very profitable. We also own other small content websites that are powered by WordPress, however we backup those websites manually as new content is rarely added.
We hope you have enjoyed this look at the VaultPress backup service by Automattic.
There are many great backup solutions available for WordPress. We use VaultPress because backups and restores are all automated. The service can also be used to easily transfer a website to a new location. All you have to do is activate the plugin at the new location and connect to your account.
It has saved us many times in the past when we have overwritten the wrong file or installed a bad plugin and faced the dreaded white screen of death. Therefore, we feel the monthly fee is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it gives us.
If you are unsure about any aspect of the service, please leave a comment.