How to Back Up Your WordPress Website for Free in 5 Steps



WordPress website backups regularly save up-to-date site files on secure drives. This safeguards data in the event a site unexpectedly crashes; site owners can simply restore a backup to push their site live again. To back up your WordPress site for free, simply install a backup plugin, activate it, and run a backup.

While you can always install a plugin to back up your site, a more secure method would be scheduling backups with your web host. Fortunately, Bluehost includes free automatic backups with its low-cost hosting plans. Get automatic website backups and reliable hosting with Bluehost for as little as $2.95 per month today.

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Here’s how to back up a WordPress website using a plugin in 5 easy steps:

1. Log In to WordPress

Login to your WordPress account by going to WordPress.com and selecting “Log in” from the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Enter your username and password in the pop-up box. Alternatively, navigate to www.yoursite.com/wp-admin (replacing “yoursite.com” with your own domain) and input your username and password.

how to backup wordpress site

WordPress login screen

2. Find & Install a Backup Plugin

From the user dashboard, find “Plugins” from the left-hand vertical menu. Click on it to expand the menu options, then click “Add New” to open the plugins page.

how to backup wordpress site

WordPress plugins page

Find the search bar on the right-hand side of the screen. There are a number of backup plugins to choose from, but we recommend UpdraftPlus as it is well-reviewed and offers a free version. In the search bar on the right-hand side of the screen, search “updraftplus” to find the UpdraftPlus WordPress backup plugin.

how to backup wordpress site

Search WordPress plugins

Find UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin from the plugins search results. Double-check that it is the correct plugin by confirming that the title of the plugin is UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin—not UpdraftCentral. Next, click the “Install Now” button that is shown to the right of the plugin title.

how to backup wordpress site

Install UpdraftPlus on WordPress

4. Select “Activate Plugin”

Once you have successfully installed the UpdraftPlus plugin, a pop-up will appear with two options: “Activate Plugin” and “Return to Plugin Installer.” Click the “Activate Plugin” option to activate UpdraftPlus on your WordPress site.

how to backup wordpress site

Activate UpdraftPlus on WordPress

5. Configure Backup Preferences

The last step is to configure your backup preferences. To do this, go to “Settings” from your WordPress dashboard. This will open a drop-down menu with options below the “Setting” tab, including one for UpdraftPlus.

Select “UpdraftPlus” to open the UpdraftPlus settings page. Then click the “Settings” tab from the horizontal menu at the top of the screen. Here, you can schedule backups for your files and databases. We recommend that you back up both automatically at least once a week. To do so, select “Automatic” from the drop-down menus and choose the appropriate frequency. Then, select how many archived backups you want to keep; two is standard.

Finally, choose where your backups will be stored. Select the appropriate remote storage icon at the bottom of the screen and follow the prompts to connect your storage account to UpdraftPlus. This ensures your backups are automatically stored in a set location that you can easily access.

how to backup wordpress site

Set backup schedule for UpdraftPlus backups on WordPress

How to Restore Your Website With UpdraftPlus in 3 Steps

Knowing how to back up your WordPress site is key to protecting your data from corruption or deletion. However, it’s also important that you know how to restore your website backups should your site ever crash. To restore your business website, go to WordPress “Settings” menu and select “UpdraftPlus.” Click the Existing Backups Tab, then click “Restore” to open the Restoration Wizard.

Here’s how to restore your WordPress website with UpdraftPlus in three steps:

1. Navigate to Your Backup Plugin

Login to your WordPress account. From the admin dashboard, find and select “Settings” from the vertical left-hand menu. A menu will appear after clicking the “Settings” tab. Find and select “UpdraftPlus” from the options to open the plugin.

how to backup wordpress site

Find UpdraftPlus in WordPress settings menu

2. Select a Backup to Restore

Find and click on the “Existing Backups” tab from the horizontal menu on the main screen. This will show you a list of your most recent backups.

how to backup wordpress site

Existing backups in UpdraftPlus to restore a WordPress site

From the list of existing backups, find the backup that you would like to restore; this will likely be the most recent backup. Once you have decided which backup to restore, click the blue “Restore” button to launch the restoration wizard.

how to backup wordpress site

Restore WordPress site with UpdraftPlus

3. Complete Restoration Wizard

Next, a popup will appear. Click the blue “Restore” button, then choose which site elements you would like to restore, including “Plugins,” “Themes,” “Uploads,” “Others,” and “Database.” If you would like to complete a full restoration, keep all options selected.

There are some instances when you would not want to restore all site elements. For example, if your site suffers from corrupt plugins, you would only want to select “Plugins” from the list available on this page. If you are not sure which specific elements to restore, contact your host to determine what site files have been corrupted or deleted.

Once you have chosen all appropriate site elements for restoration, click the “Restore” button in the bottom right-hand side of the popup box.

how to backup wordpress site

Select elements to back up with Updraft

You will then see a screen that shows each element of your site being prepared for restoration, including the progress of that preparation. Click the “Restore” button in the bottom right at any time to continue the restoration process; if you do so before preparation is finished, the wizard will finish preparing files, then move to the next screen.

how to backup wordpress site

UpdraftPlus restore WordPress website

Following file preparation, another popup screen will appear with possible file warnings. Review the warnings that are listed, if any. If there are no warnings, click the “Restore” button in the bottom right to complete the restoration process. If you do have a warning, fix the elements noted in the warning before completing the restoration process. If you have questions about how to resolve a warning, visit the UpdraftPlus support page.

how to backup wordpress site

Confirm WordPress restore on UpdraftPlus

Once the process has completed, a screen will pop up confirming that your restoration has been completed. If you have any issues with the restoration and your site fails to restore successfully, you can still backup your site manually. Refer to the UpdraftPlus help forum to learn how to complete a manual backup.

5 Alternative WordPress Backup Plugins

If you are just learning how to back up a WordPress site, it’s good to know that there are a number of great WordPress backup plugins. We chose UpdraftPlus as the example in this article because it is not only free, but also a very simple and reliable plugin with high ratings. Still, it’s worth considering your options before choosing one plugin.

Here are five alternative WordPress website backup plugins:

  • BackUpWordPress: This is a free and easy-to-use backup plugin. It is very similar to UpdraftPlus and is a good choice for those who want a simple plugin with basic features.
  • VaultPress with JetPack: For as little as $3.50 per month, VaultPress with JetPack offers automatic daily WordPress backups, as well as many other features, including additional storage for site images and analytics tools.
  • Duplicator: This backup plugin has both a free version and a $59 premium version; the premium version gives users one year of support with plugin updates. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on WordPress from over 2,000 reviews.
  • BackWPup: This backup plugin has a free version and a $69 per year premium version that includes encryption capabilities. It has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating from over 800 reviews on WordPress.
  • BackupBuddy: Annual plans for this plugin start at $80 per year to back up one website. It also includes one year of plugin updates, BackupBuddy support, and an additional 1GB of storage space.

The most secure way to back up your WordPress site is through automatic backups provided by your web hosting provider. These backups work on the server level, providing more direct access to all server files. Plugins, on the other hand, must work through the WordPress CMS and therefore don’t always have access to all server files. For automatic host backups, consider Bluehost. They are included with their $2.95 per month hosting package.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best plugin to back up a WordPress site?

The WordPress website backup plugins that have the best reviews on WordPress include UpdraftPlus, BackUpWordPress, Duplicator, BackWPup, and BackupGuard. The best backup plugin for you will depend on your budget and needs. However, UpdraftPlus is considered by many to be the best free WordPress backup plugin according to its 5-star rating from nearly 3,000 reviews on WordPress.

When do you need to back up a WordPress site?

Regularly scheduled backups are recommended; they should be done at least weekly, but monthly at a minimum. It’s also critical that you back up your site before major site updates or changes. This ensures that your data is protected should anything be corrupted or deleted in the update process.

How many backups do I need to keep?

Keep two to three of your most recent backups. This gives you the ability to restore a couple versions of your site should it face an issue. Also, keep older backups when making major changes, as there may be times when you would like to revert back to an older version of your site.

Where is the best place to store backups?

Most users store website backups in the cloud. Cloud storage doesn’t take up hard drive space and often comes with security features, like data encryption and password protection. The most popular cloud platforms include Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft Azure, though be sure to examine features and costs before picking one that’s right for you.

Bottom Line: How to Back Up a WordPress Website

Backing up a WordPress site allows users to protect all of their site data should any of it become corrupted or inadvertently deleted. With backup plugins, such as UpdraftPlus, you can backup a WordPress site easily by installing the plugin, activating it, and configuring settings. Restoration of backups is as easy as selecting the archived backup and walking through the restoration wizard.

However, for those who want the most complete and reliable data protection, consider getting automatic backups through your web hosting provider. We recommend Bluehost—they offer affordable web hosting plans with included automatic website backups for just $2.95 per month. Sign up today and get a free domain name and five free email addresses with your account.

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