Welcome to the second part of my series “Create a WordPress Backup” today with the topic “WordPress Backup Plugin Free”. In the first part, we made a manual backup without a plugin. Today we automate the process and I’ll show you free plugins like UpdraftPlus, WPvivid, xCloner – and explain the difference to the paid premium versions.
Basically, we should first secure our website against external attacks. You can find about this topic in my blog multiple posts and also the appropriate workshop”WordPress security in 10 minutes”.
But in addition to all the protection, we should regularly download the complete WordPress installation including the database.
Why? If something goes wrong, i.e. we are hacked even though we have secured our site, because our hoster may have been hacked – or there is a technical error with our hoster, then we need a copy of our work. Otherwise, we lose not just hours, but weeks or months of our work.
WordPress backup without plugin
The safest way is to regularly backup your website with all data. If you missed the first part of this mini-series, catch up now, because in the first part I will explain how you can create a WordPress backup without a plugin, i.e. manually download the WordPress files and also back up the database. Only if we save both together can we restore our site later.
However, we also discussed that this is quite cumbersome – and the process should be automated. So …
Let’s start with: Free WordPress Backup Plugin
Okay, what free plugins are there to automatically create a backup?
What are the most popular free WordPress plugins? We look at UpdraftPlus with over 3 million users, WPVivid (which I use myself), open source xCloner, BackupGuard and BackWPup.
UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
If you search for “WordPress Backup Plugin free” in the WordPress Directory, you will find what is probably the most popular backup plugin in the top 5: UpdraftPlus.
This plugin runs on over 3 million installations – and all users are satisfied. Why? Because in my opinion it is the best backup plugin available for free.
First things first: The plugin works. Most plugins advertise great features but fail in practice. Either backups only work for tiny websites or restoring the data doesn’t go smoothly.
With plugins like UpdraftPlus or WPVivid (more on that in a moment) you have a reliable partner at your side.
A great thing is that you can save the backup not only locally but also on external destinations. This is important because it usually makes little sense to store all data and all backups in the same place.
With the free version you can already get a good part of the way. What’s better about the premium version?
Here is a comparison of UpdraftPlus Free vs. UpdraftPlus Premium
In short: We can schedule the order of backups. We can specify additional storage locations of the backups, for example SFTP. We can set remote storage option. We have security encryptions. We get reporting and monitoring of our backups. There is also a migration function, which means we can transfer a page to another website. The whole thing works not only for a single website, but also for a multisite.
That all sounds good… BUT… these features are only available with UpdraftPlus Premium, the paid version. The main reason for the Pro version is certainly the incremental backup.
What is an incremental backup?
That means we save the complete backup once, and then we need only back up the data that has changed. And of course that saves a lot of storage space and relieves the server of resources.
I have around 3.8 gigabytes of data on my website. Of this, 500 megabytes are the database and the rest, i.e. three and a half gigabytes, are mainly images. As a rule, nothing changes with all this data. When I create new blog posts, a new image is added.
So it makes no sense to shovel 3.5 gigabytes over the network and back them up every day if the bottom line is maybe a hundred Kb have changed.
This function is an important reason for me, actually the main reason why you should take a premium plugin.
Unfortunately, most free plugins do not have this function. The second argument is the site migration feature. This is also only available in a premium version. If I have a website and want to copy it to another server, this can only be done with the premium version.
The same applies to backing up external data. If I have a tool running on my website “outside of WordPress”, I can still back up this data at the same time.
If you want or can do without these things – and just want to secure your website for once, you can’t go wrong with UpdraftPlus.
WordPress backup migration
An alternative would be, for example, the WordPress Backup Migration Plugin. This is also very popular here. In principle, you get exactly the same functions.
The free version already has a lot to offer. Of course, the data on the server and the database are also backed up here.
You can also specifically select folders and even database tables that you want to back up. This is very convenient, as this way you don’t always have to back up “everything”.
The finished backup can be downloaded and thus saved locally. And you can also save a backup in your Dropbox.
Of course there is also a Pro version. Here we can mirror a website completely, which is very useful, for example, when the server is moved. All paths are also reset during the data migration, so that you can actually get started with the copy of the website immediately.
In addition, we can now also link G Drive, Amazon S3, One Drive and SFTP/FTP. It is also interesting that we can edit the backup mode, i.e. we can focus on the smooth operation of the website and downgrade the priority of the backup.
In my opinion, these settings are not as extensive as with WP Vivid, but better than nothing.
Then there’s BackWPup. This is also very popular. Unfortunately I had a problem with it myself. I was able to create a backup, but due to the size of my files, I couldn’t import the backup – and of course that was super annoying. So I have mixed feelings about it.
I like that the free version already has a whole range of premium functions. In addition to the classic backup of the WordPress installation and database, we can save the backup locally and in the Dropbox – BUT we can already save a copy to Amazon S3, MS Azure, RackSpace, SugarSync.
On the less nice list is that we can only restore a backup directly from the WOP backend via the Pro version. I think it’s okay that data encryption is only reserved for pro users – you won’t find that in any other free version either.
What bothered me was that I couldn’t restore my backup smoothly. Maybe my data was too big or my server thwarted the plugin. If in doubt, try a backup and restore with this plugin before you rely on the system.
I don’t want to withhold another free backup plugin from you: xCloner.
xCloner is a very cool tool. I can set almost everything here that I otherwise only find in premium versions.
Storage via FTP, SFTP, DropBox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, WebDAV, Backblaze, Azure? No problem.
A differential backups? No problem.
Encrypted backups (GDPR)? No problem.
Well… all this is almost no problem. The only downside with this plugin is that you need to be a bit more tech savvy. For example, you have to create external cron jobs for regular backups. That sort of thing keeps me a bit from using this tool. But I have a colleague who really enjoys working with xCloner. Like I said, I’m a little lazy. I’d rather pay something once and have less work later.
WPvivid (my current plugin)
I use WPvivid myself. WPvivid is very popular, has a five star rating in the free version – and in my opinion has fewer restrictions in the free version than many competitors.
WPvivid does a good job … and I use the Pro version in our agency. It is very easy to create a solid backup here – and there are very good setting options for almost every application.
In the next part I will show you how I set up WPvivid.
Anyone using MainWP will be happy to know that there is a direct integration here. So you can backup (do you say backup?) all websites from your MainWP admin interface.
You can find a comparison of the free and pro features here.
In short: You can create a reasonable backup in the free version and simply restore it. Of course, this applies to your data and the database. So far. So good.
You can also use the free plugin to save your site to another server (remote storage) and migrate your data to a new website. I think that’s a great offer.
You can also schedule your backups and save 7 versions in the free version.
In the paid version Above all, the incremental backup and the encryption (GDPR) of your backups are added.
Conclusion: Free backup plugins.
All backup plugins presented do a good job – even in the free version. If in doubt, simply test the various solutions and start with the plugin that you feel comfortable using.
But start! Every backup is better than no backup at all.
In the next part I will introduce you to WP Vivid in detail and show you how I use the plugin for my setup. So it is no longer about “WordPress Backup Plugin free”, but about the premium version of a backup.
- What should you watch out for when using a plugin like WP Vivid or UpdraftPlus?
- What Makes a Good WordPress Backup Plugin?
- How do I secure a full backup for large amounts of data?
- What types of backup are there?
- What does differential or incremental backup mean?
- How do I use incremental backups?
This is exactly what the third part of this small series “Create WordPress backups” is all about.
Mini-Series: Create a WordPress Backup
Part 1: WordPress Backup without Plugin
Part 2: WordPress Backups with Free Plugins
Part 3: Create a full WordPress backup with WPvivid