How to Backup Wordpress without expert knowledge

by Sunforged

Backing up your Wordpress Site is an often neglected but required step for your online small business. This simple guide will show various techniques for safeguarding your website

WordPress Essentials by Xobba
WordPress Essentials by Xobba

Basic WordPress Structure

Nuts and Bolts of Your WordPress Installation

Using WordPress to manage your online sites and associated small businesses is a common and suggested route with many start up online entrepreneurs. The extreme ease of installation and management allows many to ignore learning the technical aspect of web development and rely on a plugin, paint by numbers approach to development.

Between the famous "one click install", massive portfolio of predefined themes and a text editor interface. Most of the traditional skills and acronyms such as HTML,CSS,PHP, Javascript and SEO that a web site owner was once forced to familiarize oneself with can be pushed aside in lieu of content development and design or advertising concerns instead.

When everything is going as it should this is the great benefit of the wordpress platform, when problems arise that ease of installation and basic lack of skills can be the death knell to your site or can be a costly endeavor as you scramble to find a reliable and available web developer to solve your problem for you.  Backing Up wordpress

Understanding your basic structure and the integral elements of your wordpress installation is both easy and wise. If you rely on your site to create income you can spare some time to get the very basics of how your site works in hand.

Understanding what does what, even if you cant necessarily code and debug every problem does wonders when you have a proper backup system in place. If you create regular WordPress File and Database backups its almost impossible to completely destroy your site as almost everything can simply be rewritten with the last working version of your sites files or database.

Tools, Resources and Vocabulary Necessary to Begin and Maintain a Healthy Wordpress Site

Words and Files To Know
  • FTP  ( File Transfer Protocol) - Program Used To Edit and Change Permissions of Wordpress and Server Files on your Host
  • .htaccess - contains commands that talk to your Apache Webserver , permalink structure changes, caching plugins, redirection and access rules can be written manually or via plugins to this file. Lots of issues you may cause as you speed up your site or integrate advanced functionality may be done here and can result in complete lockout or malfunction of your site. Luckily its easily fixed!
  • Wp-Includes, Wp-Content, Wp-Admin - Core Folders in every Wordpress Install
  • Wp-config - Crucial core file worth noting
  • MySQL Database / WP Database - The most crucial element of your install. Wordpress sites are created dynamically, each page come sinto existence when a browser calls the database, No database, No site.
  • phpMyAdmin - Interface tool for database management present in most Hosts cPanel
  • Wordpress Codex - Anything you would ever need to know about WordPress is in here, but the language may be dry and unfamiliar at first.
  • WordPress Desk Reference - I find I still learn best from a real tangible book. I concentrate differently. If you are similar one new WordPress Desk reference is a worthwhile buy and ultimate time saver when looking over online tutorials. I find that Smashing Magazine WordPress Reference Book is amazing but is by no means a "For Dummies" or Beginners Manual. You can learn the basics online. Get a desk reference that handles heavy issues.

WordPress Desk Reference

Wordpress 3.0 Search Engine Optimization
Packt Pub Ltd
$44.99  $1.92
WordPress 3 Complete
Packt Publishing
$24.95  $20.49
WordPress: The Missing Manual: The Bo...
O'Reilly Media
$27.49  $17.84

Editing WordPress via FTP Programs

Even though I put up the lexicon of terms that could be confusing, backing Up WordPress without expert knowledge is still an apt description and an easy task.

If you can drag and drop files from one folder to another, such as loading a usb flash disk or mp3 player, then you can backup your wordpress install.

But you will need a FTP program:


BackUp WordPress Files Manually with FTP

Once you Filezilla installed, you have to connect to your server. your host will have provided this information with your signup. Often a ftp account exists with your base cpanel login details.

The login has 4 fields.


Address: ftp.yourdomain.tld

LogIn: adminlogin

Password: Password

Port: Often Not Necessary



Once you hit connect and you are into your server, you will see a file system like any other you have seen before.

Your Wordpress install will be located wherever you placed it, if its in the main domain, you will find the install in the public_html file , if you created a custom subdomain or file such as "blog" it will be within that folder.


Ideally, If you are staying simple and need the most basic of backups you can drag and drop the entire folder into your own Local Storage. Wp Installs are quite small compared to your standard mp3 library or video collection. 

Anytime, you plan on making site edits, just drag a copy over real quick so you can easily replace if anything odd happens.

Files You Absolutely want backed up 

  • .htaccess
  • wp-config (contains database information tying your files to the db)
  • Wp-content (Contains all your uploads and possibly customized theme files)

As an aside and for your own later research knowledge. .Htaccess files can be recreated automatically by wordpress if you place an empty htaccess file within and then save permalinks. It will lose any custom functions but is an easy fix if you do something wrong.

If you get a plugin conflict that leads to your site not loading. Just head into your ftp and rename the plugin file. I often just place a number in front of it. Your site will often come back into existence and you can carefully go through your recent uploads and additions in order to solve the problem.

If that fails, then you can just drop your whole backup folder of "plugins" and overwrite the conflicting folder!

BackUp WordPress Database Manually with phpMyAdmin

Backup Your WordPress Database with phpAdmin


Read below it sounds harder than it is, its a two click fix, just stay confident and follow the pictures.


1. Backing Up using phpMyAdmin

2. Restoring a database using phpMyAdmin

Use Wordpress Plugins For Backups

Suggested Plugin List

Wp-DB Manager - Manually Save and or restore Database via Wordpress Dashboard. Can be set to schedule and can email backups to be stored in your webmail. Also has optimize, restore and refresh functions.

Wp Db Backup - Pretty much the same, I have often used them interchangeably never realizing that I searched for the wrong plugin. 


Automated Back Up Services and Plug Ins for Wordpress

Automatic Wordpress Back Up - Is my current favorite backup plugin, it can be set to send scheduled back ups to Amazon s3. Restore is a one click installation. Backs up entire site, not just files or database. A set and forget backup. A copy can be saved in your server also, so access to dashboard isnt necessary for restore. Free PlugIn

BackUpBuddy - A comprehensive backup plugin. Premium cost,yet with same options as Automatic WordPress


Suggested WordPress Resources

Themes, Plugins, Tools and Hosts worth knowing about

Xobba WordPress hosting by iHostPressLearn To Use WordPress Web Site:

Xobba.Com - Offers the best Amazon and Adsense Sharing Platform on the Internet . You can actually get awarded a free hosting account via their "earn as you learn" protocol.





Top Premium Themes:


StudioPress | Genesis

Woo Themes

Elegant Themes

Top Free Themes:




Best wordpress hosting

Recommended Hosting Services for WordPress:

Hostgator WordPress Hosting

iHostPress Wordpress Hosting



Advanced WordPress Knowledge:



WordPress Codex

Selecting Your Domain for your Wordpress Site

Updated: 05/10/2012, Sunforged
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MikeRobbers on 05/27/2013

Sometimes back up could seem as a very complex thing to do. Helpful and easy to use tutorial. Many thanks.

teddletonmr on 02/24/2012

Thanks for sharing your insights on how to backup Wordpress. This information will save many of us a tremendous amount of time, headaches and quite possibly a butt load of cash in the process.
Be well and prosper

katiem2 on 02/13/2012

This is great as so many of us constantly feel were just not getting it when it comes to wordpress period not to mention backing it up. I'm thrilled your here I love your work, the tutorials you create work for me, I get it! Thanks

NaturalRemedies on 02/08/2012

I picture you as being extremely organized, which I'm sure helps! I'm anything but. I'm meticulous about writing eval reports, similarly due to a sense of responsiblity for the info of others. I probably spend 2-3 times as long as most other therapists on these things (partly due to my struggle with presenting the material in an organized way).

Sunforged on 02/08/2012

RM, I cant say that I find profound enjoyment from such things, but, from experience, I have had to learn to create systems for myself that backup my data at home, the security of my system, and the the data and security of my sites, especially ones such as the one you mention where others data and time are my responsibility.

Luckily, in most cases it comes down to learning and performing something only once and setting it to schedule. Not much different then selecting a home AV and setting a scheduled time for full scans.

I assure you my brain would prefer to absorb other things too

NaturalRemedies on 02/07/2012

My brain is so lazy when it comes to this stuff. Maybe someday... Anyway, great to bump into you here (It's me, Rose Mary. I applied to Xobba this weekend).

Sunforged on 01/03/2012

Links Updated and resources added to Jan-2012

Sunforged on 01/03/2012

@Katie, I hope this helps, you always know where to find me if you have any wordpress backup questions

@Michey, Thank You, Im glad you were able to follow, the topic of wordpress security and backup plugins isnt the most enjoyable but it is necessary knowledge to understand LONG BEFORE your sites require the backups to exist

@ChefKeem - Glad to have helped

katiem2 on 11/07/2011

Hey Sunforged, Great to hear from you here! I appreciate your simple guide on how to backup word press without expert knowledge. Now this is information we can all use. Thanks!

Michey on 08/21/2011

Very good article and useful, you explain very well and with enough derail, it is easy to follow.

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