As a website owner, you’ve spent months, maybe even years, developing content and getting your layout exactly the way you want. The last thing you want is to lose all of your hard work.
That’s where backups come into play. Regular, high-quality website backups are the best way to protect your valuable assets and restore your site if it ever goes down or is hacked.
Since WordPress is open source, anyone can develop plugins, themes, or tutorials to help people customize websites — and tens of thousands of people do. This means you have many backup solutions available to safeguard your work.
Below, we take a look at some popular options — Jetpack Backup, UpdraftPlus, and BackupBuddy — and compare their features, pricing, and more.
Comparing WordPress backup plugins
You’ve likely heard of popular backup options like Jetpack Backup, BackupBuddy, and UpdraftPlus. Figuring out which one will work best for you requires determining your needs so you can understand which solutions meet them.
Most website owners are busy. You may forget to back up your site for months, only to realize your mistake when something goes wrong. A good backup plugin will automatically back up your website and store your files in the cloud.
By the year 2020, 83% of enterprises will work in the cloud and store files across multiple locations for security and ease of access. Storing backups separately from your host also means that you can still restore your site if your entire server goes down.
Jetpack Backup saves your website to WordPress.com’s secure servers as well as to Amazon S3, for redundancy, which is a valuable feature not offered by many other options. Even the most secure storage solutions can be compromised, so you never want to store assets in a single location. You can also download your backups and save them to your computer or cloud storage any time you’d like.
UpdraftPlus and BackupBuddy both integrate with other storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Rackspace Cloud to save your backups online.
Ease of installation
All three plugins have the same installation process:
- Navigate to your WordPress dashboard.
- Click Plugins → Add New.
- Search for the plugin, install, and activate.
Jetpack Backup is perhaps the most intuitive and simple to set up. After installation, backups begin automatically. It also integrates nicely with other Jetpack features you might already use, like brute force protection and a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
While you need a license code for BackupBuddy, it does provide a Quick Setup wizard that will walk you through settings, storage options, and backup schedule choices, so it’s relatively easy to use for beginners.
UpdraftPlus setup is a little more complicated. After installing the plugin, navigate to Settings → UpdraftPlus Backups and click the Settings tab at the top. There, you can choose how often to back up your files and database, and select a location to store your backups. Note that you will need to either have an account with Dropbox, Google Drive, or another cloud service, or receive backups via email or FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
It’s important to choose a backup plugin that fits with your level of comfort and experience. The last thing you want is to find out that your backups are set up incorrectly when you need them most!
Easy restore features
If your website goes down, you should be able to restore a backup easily and quickly.
The Jetpack Backup team built a restore solution that’s accessible no matter your level of technical knowledge or experience (no one wants to deal with a complicated process during a stressful moment!). Jetpack uses its Activity feature to store a list of the actions that happen on your site, like published pages, updated plugins, and login attempts. You can view this full list — including date, time, and the user who took each action — in your WordPress.com account.
If you accidentally delete something you didn’t mean to or a plugin update causes a problem, you can undo your mistake and rewind your site to the exact moment before the action took place. And if you can’t get into your WordPress dashboard, you can restore a backup from WordPress.com just as easily. It takes a few clicks, and there’s no need to access your server.
UpdraftPlus allows each WordPress entity — database, plugin, or theme — to be backed up in a separate file, and you can restore the backups with one click. You can also import and restore backups made by other plugins, like BackUpWordPress and BackWPup, and from generic SQL (uncompressed, gzip-compressed, or bzip2-compressed) backups. If you can’t access your WordPress dashboard, it’s still possible to restore your site manually, but the process is much more complicated.
BackupBuddy is a bit more difficult. To restore a backup, you first need to upload their restore file, ImportBuddy, to your server using FTP. If you aren’t a developer, this can be confusing. You’ll also need to access your server to find backup files, unless you have them stored elsewhere.
However, if you don’t need to restore your full website, you can choose to roll back your database to a previous version or restore individual files. View full instructions for restoring your site with BackupBuddy.
When considering a backup solution for WordPress, think about any extra features that might be beneficial for your specific needs. Keep in mind that features will vary depending on which plan you have with each provider.
Below is a summary of the features available with each plugin, but keep in mind that some features require upgraded plans or additional fees.
|File System Backups||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Site Migration Features||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Off-Site Backup Storage||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|File Size Limits||Unlimited||Unlimited||1GB storage space included|
|Customer Support||Forums, contact forms, and unlimited chat support||Support forums||Contact form|
|Multisite Compatibility||Yes||Yes||Available in beta version|
|Brute Force Protection||Yes||No||No|
|Backup Restore Points Based on Site Actions||Yes||Only for core/theme/plugin updates||No|
All three plugins have very different pricing and subscription models.
Jetpack: Jetpack Backup is available by itself with both daily and real-time backups. If you want to add on additional Jetpack features like malware scanning or anti-spam for comments and forms, check out Jetpack plans. There are plans for every type of site, so you can start protecting your website for as little as $3.50 per month.
UpdraftPlus: Free and premium versions of the plugin are available, and features vary depending on the option that you choose. A personal package costs $70 upfront, then $40 per year for up to two sites. You can also add on packages that allow for an unlimited number of additional sites.
BackupBuddy: BackupBuddy’s pricing model is a bit different. They charge $80 annually for one website, which includes updates, support, and 1GB of storage.
You always have the option to create a full-site backup through your hosting control panel rather than with a plugin. Though the exact process will vary depending on your host, you’d typically:
- Navigate to your control panel.
- Search for a site backup option. There will usually be a button that says something like “generate a full backup.”
- Download the ZIP file that is generated.
Some hosts offer automatic backups as part of your plan, so you may want to ask your provider if this is included. However, it’s important not to be completely reliant on your host’s backups, as they can be infrequent or become corrupted. (Find out how one of our customers lost his entire site due to a hosting mistake.) You can also download all the files in your “public_html” folder. Make sure you separately copy your WordPress database, which is critical to a full website restore. Learn how to back up your database.
Do you need a backup plugin?
The simple answer: yes. Things can always go wrong, and it’s too easy to get busy and forget to make manual backups regularly. Think of your backup plugin as insurance for your website against hackers, mistakes, and worst-case scenarios.
While any automatic backup solution is better than nothing, Jetpack provides a full suite of security and backup features that ensure you’re protected in any emergency.
Learn more about Jetpack Backup.
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I like Jetpack and use it on all the sites I build and maintain. But with respect, a very direct competitor in this area is left out, Manage WP offered by GoDaddy. Functionally it is much more similar to Jetpack than the other backup options mentioned in this article. Furthermore, its backup option is free if the site is backed up once a month, which may be enough for small and less active sites! It also updates plugins, WordPress core and offers a series of other functions and deserves a look and a place in this comparative article.
Thanks for letting us know other great options. Leaving ManageWP out wasn’t intentional, there are many backup solutions, so we picked two commonly used ones.
That said, we will consider it if we have other posts about this topic in the future.