Your WordPress database contains vital information like login credentials and user details. It also stores your posts and pages. So, you’ll want to make sure that you always have a recent WordPress database backup to restore, just in case something goes wrong.
The good news is that backing up your WordPress database (and restoring it) is really easy. You can use one of the top WordPress backup plugins, Jetpack VaultPress Backup, to automate the process. Or, you can perform a manual backup (although this can be more difficult and time-consuming).
In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of backing up your WordPress database. Then, we’ll show you how to do this both with a WordPress plugin and manually. We’ll also walk you through how to restore your database backups and look at some best practices for managing the entire process. Finally, we’ll wrap up with some frequently asked questions on the subject.
The importance of backing up your database
At the heart of your WordPress website, there’s a database. This database stores and organizes your site’s content, including posts, pages, comments, theme and plugin settings, and user details.
WordPress uses a database management system like MySQL or MariaDB to store and retrieve data. This system consists of multiple, interconnected tables, with each table containing a repository of information, like user accounts.
So, why is backing up your database so important?
Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins to gain access to your database and delete its data. If you have a backup, you can easily restore your database to its previous state. This way, you can minimize downtime and avoid losing important information.
You’ll also want to perform regular WordPress database backups in case of technical problems. For instance, your host’s server might malfunction, resulting in partial or total data loss.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re also making regular backups of your WordPress site files. If you’re constantly updating your website, it’s even more important that you perform these backups.
Note that if you have an online store, you’ll also want to back up your WooCommerce data to make sure that your product information and client details are safe. Otherwise, you could end up losing valuable information that took a long time to collect and optimize.
How to back up your WordPress database
Now that you know why it’s so important to create a WordPress database backup, let’s look at two main ways you can do it!
If you want to automate the process, you can use a WordPress backup plugin like Jetpack VaultPress Backup. This will save every change on your site in real time, so you won’t have to worry about losing recent data.
Plus, the plugin will automatically store your WordPress database backup in the ultra-secure Jetpack Cloud platform. Then, if you need to restore the database, you can do so with a few clicks.
Alternatively, you might prefer to back up the WordPress database manually. This gives you more control over the data you want to save (for instance, you might only want to back up your posts). Additionally, you can store your site backup in your preferred location.
But, the main downside of manual database backups is that you’ll need to do it regularly. If you forget to perform a backup, you risk losing your most recent data. This method can also be a little time-consuming, so you might prefer using a WordPress backup plugin instead.
In this tutorial, we’ll go over both methods in more detail.
1. Using a backup plugin
Let’s start with the easier method — making a WordPress database backup with a plugin.
Step 1: Install Jetpack VaultPress Backup
As we mentioned, Jetpack VaultPress Backup will automatically back up your database in real time. But you might be wondering what that means.
As an example, if someone makes a purchase, or you update a page, these changes will be instantly saved to the cloud, as soon as it’s complete.
Now, to get started with VaultPress Backup, you’ll need either the standalone Jetpack VaultPress Backup plugin or the Jetpack plugin with a plan that includes VaultPress Backup functionality (among other things, like malware scanning and spam prevention).
This tutorial will explore the steps to setting up the standalone VaultPress Backup plugin. Once you’ve purchased a plan, you can install and activate VaultPress Backup through your WordPress dashboard. Simply go to Plugins → Add New and type the plugin’s name in the search bar.
Then, click on Install Now followed by Activate.
You’ll then be prompted to purchase a plan (if you haven’t already) or sign in with an existing account.
Next, you’ll need to enter your license key. This should have been sent to your inbox when you made your purchase.
You may also need to connect VaultPress Backup to your WordPress.com account. Simply follow the prompts to complete the process.
If you don’t already have a WordPress.com account, you can create one for free.
Step 2: Create the first backup
Once you’ve set up the plugin, you can navigate to Jetpack → VaultPress Backup in your dashboard.
As you can see, the plugin will automatically perform the first full backup of your site (including the database).
You won’t need to configure any settings for your backup. Jetpack will automatically create a restore point every time there’s a change on your site.
You can view the latest backup within your WordPress dashboard.
As you can see, Jetpack gives you some key details about the latest backup, including the number of posts and uploads that have been saved.
2. Creating a manual database backup
Next, let’s look at how to back up your WordPress database manually.
Before you go ahead with this method, you’ll need to make sure that you know how the WordPress database works. It’s also important that you familiarize yourself with its structure and settings. Otherwise, you might exclude important data when downloading it.
Step 1: Log into your cPanel
To manually back up your database, you’ll first need to use the control panel in your web hosting account. Since it’s such a common tool, chances are your web host will use cPanel specifically. If not, reach out to your hosting provider for documentation.
If you are using cPanel, log into your account and navigate to the site you want to back up. You should see an option to access your cPanel.
Once you’re inside the cPanel, navigate to the Databases section and click on phpMyAdmin.
This is a program that enables you to manage all your WordPress databases. You can also use it to download your data.
Step 2: Find your database
Once you’re inside phpMyAdmin, select the Databases tab. This will show you a list of all databases in your account.
Simply choose the database you want to download. At this point, a list of tables will appear. You’ll see tables for your comments, posts, taxonomy, and more.
Now, select the tables you’d like to save. If you want to make a copy of everything, click on Check all.
Step 3: Export your database
Now that you know which database and tables you want to download, you can navigate to the Export tab.
As you can see, you have two options for exporting your database: Quick or Custom. The second option gives you more control over the data you want to export.
For instance, you can deselect any tables you don’t want to save.
In the Output section, you will find the Save output to a file option. Make sure it’s selected and for Character set of file, choose utf-8.
For compression, you can select the zipped or gzipped option. There are other settings you can configure on this page, but you likely won’t need to change any of them.
If you opted for the Quick method, there’s no need to worry about the settings. Just make sure that the format is set to SQL.
When you’re ready, click the Export button. The database will then download to your computer. It’s important that you save it in a secure location like a cloud platform.
How to restore your WordPress database backups
When you have a WordPress database backup, you can restore your data in case of a security breach or server malfunction.
In this section, we’ll show you how to easily restore your WordPress database through Jetpack VaultPress Backup. We’ll also look at how to restore a manual backup.
1. Restoring with Jetpack VaultPress Backup
Restoring a WordPress backup through VaultPress Backup is simple.
To access your site copies, simply click on See backups in the cloud on your VaultPress Backup page.
This will take you to Jetpack’s cloud storage, where you can view all the backups of your WordPress site.
Then, locate the version you want to retrieve and click on Restore. This will open a window where you can uncheck any boxes for items that you don’t want to restore.
For example, if you just want to restore the database, you can just leave the box for Site Database (SQL) selected and uncheck everything else.
Finally, click on Confirm Restore. You’ll see a confirmation message once the backup has been restored.
That’s it! As you can see, the process is super quick and easy.
2. Restoring a manual database backup
If you made a manual WordPress database backup, you’ll also need to restore it manually.
Once again, to do this, you will have to log into the control panel in your web hosting account and open phpMyAdmin. Then, click on the Database tab and select the database where you want to import your backup (as shown earlier).
After that, navigate to the Import tab and click on the Choose File button.
Select the WordPress database file that you downloaded via phpMyAdmin (as shown in the previous section). You don’t need to change any settings here — you can leave everything as is.
Finally, hit the Import button. The process may take a while, depending on the size of your database. You’ll see a success message when it’s complete.
A recap of database backup best practices
Now that you know how to restore a WordPress site from a database backup (and how to perform that backup), let’s discuss some best practices.
Perform regular backups, and ideally in real time
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that you perform regular backups. This is particularly important if you’re constantly adding new content to your WordPress website, like posts and products, and if you have new users creating accounts on a daily basis.
Ideally, you’ll want to perform WordPress database backups in real time. This way, any new change will be instantly saved, and you won’t need to worry about losing recent data or a day’s worth of work.
Store your backups off-site (on a separate server)
It’s equally important that you store your backups in an off-site location. This means storing them in a place outside of the server that your site is hosted on.
This way, if there’s a problem with the server, you won’t lose your backup. It’s a good idea to store your WordPress database backup in multiple locations, to be on the safe side.
You could save a copy on your computer, but, if something happens to your device, you could lose that too. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to keep another copy of your database in a remote storage location. Online platforms like Google Cloud Storage and Google Drive are popular options.
Keep redundant copies of your backups
You might be tempted to delete previous backups of your database. This can help you clear some space and keep your database clean, but you may need these old backups in the future.
For instance, you might decide to restore some plugin settings that you used in the past. You may also need to retrieve some information about a user who no longer has an account on your WordPress site.
Therefore, you might want to consider keeping redundant copies of your backups, in case you need to fetch information that’s no longer available on your site. To make things a little easier, you can organize these backups into folders labeled by month and year.
Have a backup restoration plan in place
Finally, you’ll want to ensure that you have a solid restoration plan in place, in case something goes wrong. This way, you can minimize downtime and any other damage to your site.
Ideally, you should be able to restore your WordPress database backup in just a few clicks. For example, Jetpack VaultPress Backup offers one-click restores, so you don’t have to do the whole thing manually. This means you can have your site up and running again in no time.
Frequently asked questions
We’ve tried to cover all you need to know about WordPress database backups, but you might still have some doubts about the process.
What is a WordPress database backup?
A WordPress database backup is simply a copy of the data on your site. When you’re using WordPress, this is stored using MySQL or MariaDB. Your WordPress database can include posts, pages, categories, products, users, comments, plugin settings, and more.
Why do I need to back up my WordPress database?
Hackers might try to exploit vulnerabilities in the WordPress software, plugins, or themes to gain access to your database. They may then steal, manipulate, or delete your data.
Additionally, your server may experience technical issues, which could erase important data on your WordPress site. It may also get deleted through human error.
If you have a WordPress database backup, you can easily restore your data and minimize downtime.
How often should I back up my WordPress database?
You might choose to perform daily, weekly, or monthly backups. If you have a large site, run an ecommerce store, or are constantly adding new content or users, you’ll want to perform WordPress database backups in real time.
With Jetpack VaultPress Backup, every change you make to your site is automatically backed up. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing any recent updates to your site.
What’s the best way to back up my WordPress database?
This will depend on your personal preferences and technical expertise. If you want more control over your data, you may prefer to perform manual database backups.
If you prefer an automated backup process, or you want real-time backups, the best option would be to use a WordPress plugin like VaultPress Backup.
What’s the best storage option for my WordPress backups?
It’s important that you store your WordPress backups in an off-site location. This means in a place other than your server. This way, if there’s an issue with the server, you don’t risk losing your backups along with your site.
To be on the safe side, you’ll want to opt for a secure cloud location. Jetpack VaultPress Backup has this feature built-in, so you won’t need to worry about finding storage for your backups.
How do I restore a backup of my WordPress database?
If you’re using Jetpack VaultPress Backup, you can easily restore your database backup with a few clicks. Meanwhile, if you’ve backed up your database manually, you’ll need to import it into your site via phpMyAdmin.
How can I ensure my WordPress site is regularly backed up and protected?
If you want to make sure you always have a recent site backup to restore, you’ll need to opt for automated backups. This way, you won’t need to set personal reminders or do it manually.
With the Jetpack Security bundle, you’ll get automated cloud backups and unlimited restores. But it’s more than just a WordPress backup plugin, it will also scan your site for malware in real time and instantly alert you to any issues, so you can fix them before it’s too late.
VaultPress Backup: Real-time cloud backups for WordPress sites
Your WordPress database contains your posts, pages, user details, and other important data. If a hacker manages to gain access to this database, they can erase your content and steal sensitive information. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you regularly back up your WordPress database.
You can do this with one of the top WordPress backup plugins — Jetpack VaultPress Backup. This tool will automatically create a restore point every time you make a new change to your site. Alternatively, you could back up and restore your WordPress database through phpMyAdmin, but this process can be a little time-consuming and unreliable.
An automated backup solution like Jetpack VaultPress Backup can help ensure that you always have a recent site backup to restore should anything go wrong! No wonder it’s trusted by so many WordPress websites.