What are the best backup WordPress plugins? That’s hard to know, so I asked 21 professional bloggers and developers what plugins they trust for backing up their WordPress sites. To protect their sites is to protect their livelihoods. Your site might not be your paycheck but chances are you’d be terribly sad if you lost it overnight. Hosts mess up, you and I mess up and sometimes the bad guys mess things up for everybody. Let’s learn from the experts.
If you look at the WordPress Backups docs on WordPress.org, you will see that the tediousness of manual backups is enough to make a person neglect the task. Sure, some of the pros I interviewed are a 10 on the GeekScale™, but most of the tools they use are quite normal and will save you time by helping to automate backing up your WordPress website. And that’s good news.
Spoiler: In a hurry? You’ll miss a lot of wisdom but feel free to jump to What Can We Learn From These Pros? to see which backup WordPress plugins are the most trusted.
First, The Questions
You should know the three questions I asked each of the participants.
I was originally asking what backup WordPress plugins these pros use. I ended up changing my question to ask what backup solutions (plugin or otherwise) they prefer, because I was learning that not everybody was using a backup plugin — and many were using more than a plugin alone. They use WordPress plugins, their web host’s backup tools, command-line tools and I believe there was something about a bot named Igor.
- Which backup solution do you use for your website?
- Why did you choose this backup solution?
- What sites are you backing up and why is that important to you?
Onto the answers… I will highlight strong points in bold for your convenience.
Bloggers Have Their Say
These professionals write. They write a lot. And naturally they publish their articles using WordPress. Their content is their bread and butter, so you’d better believe they care about backing up their websites. Let’s see what they have to say about backup WordPress plugins and other tools for ensuring the preservation of their publications.
Oli Dale, WPLift
I have a couple of backup solutions in place, my host takes daily backups and I also use ManageWP.com to take daily backups which get stored at Amazon S3.
I use ManageWP.com on all my sites – I love the interface and being able to control multiple sites at once, you can use it to backup to different places like Dropbox, Amazon or an FTP account. Storage on Amazon is secure and cheap to use so works well for me.
Every site gets backed up every day – I have lost data in the past and had to resort to restoring some posts from the Google cache! Not something I wish to repeat so daily backups to multiple places is the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Jean Galea, WP Mayor
I use VaultPress for all my important websites.
The fact that it’s from Automattic gives me peace of mind, and it’s also very easy to set up.
I back up every site that matters, simply because I don’t want to lose any site due to some hosting mishap or hack.
Brin Wilson, WinningWP
The primary reason I use VaultPress is that it’s made by Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) – which gives me added peace of mind. The other reason I use this one in particular is because it just works in the background without me having to configure anything or even do anything at all. It’s basically effortless.
Tom Ewer, Leaving Work Behind
It’s great having Bluehost’s backup service to fall back on, but I absolutely love VaultPress for its ease of use and simple restore functionality. Paying $5 per month for the service is a no-brainer for me.
…backing up your sites is a necessity – there’s no excuse. Even if you feel you can’t justify $5 per month for the likes of VaultPress, there are plenty of free options available too.
Jeff Chandler, WP Tavern
We use VaultPress on the Tavern which gives me peace of mind and is one less thing I need to worry about. It’s constantly backing up changes so that if we need to switch back a revision, there is minimal data loss.
Note: WP Tavern is owned by Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, maker of VaultPress. Jeff was careful to disclose this.
Eric Dye, ChurchMag
I use WP Engine’s native because it just works. I’ve tried many different manual solutions and they are either hit and miss, or too expensive to use on all my sites. As for using VaultPress, I think of it as insurance. Just like you have insurance on a car or home, it’s a small price to protect your investment—and VaultPress has been the best by leaps and bounds. It’s untouchable in performance and I’ve had to use it for both migration and emergency use.
Eric uses these tools to backup more than 20 websites. I interviewed Eric in more detail in Blogging Tips from the Publisher of 14,719 Articles.
Devesh Sharma, WPKube
VaultPress makes real-time backups and doesn’t require any efforts from your part. I switched to VaultPress last month, because it makes backing up your site super easier, all you have to do is add the API key on your blog.
Before that I was using BackupBuddy for full site backups on Dropbox. It is a great solution for those who don’t want to pay a recurring fee. So if you want to avoid that and are willing to do some extra work, then BackupBuddy is a great alternative.
This article is inspired by Devesh’s article, 40 Experts Share Their 5 Favorite WordPress Plugins
Developers Chime In
This group of professionals builds things with WordPress. They develop plugins. They design WordPress themes. And they make websites for clients. It’s certain that millions of people have visited a website powered by something built by these pros. Like the bloggers, their livelihoods depend on their websites and products being online and ready to use.
Gilbert Pellegrom, Dev7studios
At the moment I use WP Migrate DB Pro to backup my live databases and user uploads with a setup similar to [link]. The code for my sites is stored in hosted Version Control Systems (Git) so they don’t need backed up in a traditional manner.
I develop my sites using Git and they are hosted on GitHub. This means the only things I need to back up are the database and user uploads. WP Migrate DB Pro is the perfect solution for this. Admittedly I might be biased as I work for Delicious Brains, the company who makes WP Migrate DB Pro, but it genuinely is a great solution. It is also a relatively affordable alternative to other hosted backup solutions.
I’m backing up my company website Dev7studios.com and my personal blog gilbert.pellegrom.me. Dev7studios is part of my income so its vital the website is kept up and running and the data backed up regularly. Losing customer data is a complete no-no.
Chris Wallace, UpThemes
We are a Pagely Ambassador, so we rely mainly on their backup system along with an automated git deployment setup for code. They perform routine backups of the database and server files and can easily roll back to any backup we may need.
Because we host customer data, we are very sensitive about where we store and pass data when it comes to third-party plugins and non-Pagely servers. Beyond PCI compliance and even though we do not store payment data (we let Stripe handle that for us), we strive to go above and beyond to take measures to secure our customers’ data. One of those measures is to avoid connecting to third-party SaaS plugins or storing customer data in a Dropbox-type account.
Every site hosted with Pagely is backed up. That includes upthemes.com, churchthemes.net, and liftux.com. It’s important because we run an e-commerce company and if we lose our data, we could lose trust, money, and ultimately, our business. That’s why we trust Pagely. :-)
Bill Robbins, Organized Themes
I use two backup solutions. For our store and most of our related sites I use WP Engine’s built in backups. There are a few features I really appreciate about that:
They’re automatic for everyone. You don’t have to do anything to set these up. A backup is made automatically, every day for every customer. In the few instances where I’ve needed to restore a backup, it’s been very easy to do. You can also download them too if you need a local copy, though you’ll have to wait a few minutes for the archive to be put together for you.
I also appreciate the prompt they give to backup before making updates. The prompt includes a link to the backup page for that site and creating a full backup only takes a few seconds and then you’re notified via email that it’s complete so you can proceed with the update.
For our support site, I host with Digital Ocean because WP Engine counts calls on our theme update API as a “visit” and I was running into lots of overages. I tried Digital Oceans built in backups, but discovered they only run once a week or so. So I cancelled that and switched to BackupBuddy for that site.
BackupBuddy makes it easy to have automated backups that are sent to remote destinations for me. Plus in the event that I need to move the site, their import tool is really handy at moving things between servers.
To me if it’s worth having on the internet, it’s worth backing up. And if it’s really valuable, it’s worth having lots of redundant backups too. I backup every site that I have.
AJ Clarke, WPExplorer
I use VaultPress for all my website backups.
A couple years ago I was using a free plugin for my backups which at the time was causing my site to really slow down and even crash. Of course back then I wasn’t on a WP Engine enterprise plan either so its possible my bad hosting was the one to blame and not the plugin. Also all the backups were saved on my server which didn’t really seem like a good idea for security reasons. Either way I decided to switch my backup solution and after some researching I found VaultPress which is managed and developed by the Automattic team, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with it. Turns out VaultPress is freaking amazing. It’s very fast, doesn’t slow your site down at all (you can set it up with SSH – sweet) and when something does go wrong restoring your site literally just requires one click of a button. I also love the fact that I can log into VaultPress and see all the changes that have been made to your site as well as get security notifications if VaultPress detects any changes in core WP files.
Currently I am using VaultPress at WPExplorer.com, PSDExplorer.com and WDExplorer.com (new site not really launched yet). Backing up your site is extremely important especially when it’s your source of income. At WP Engine, which I use as my hosting provider, they do keep daily backups of your database and they also keep remote backups of your entire site, which is awesome. However, if something bad happens to your server a remote server backup may not be 100% up to date (VaultPress updates every time something on the site changes such as a new post is published, a new image is added, a new comment is added…etc) also dealing with a hosting company for recovering a backup may not be as quick and easy as logging into VaultPress and clicking “restore”.
Jonathan Atkinson, CR3ATIV
I go with managed hosting at Hostdime, both dedicated and virtual servers, which perform nightly backups which I can then either ask them to reinstate or do it myself. I also keep a local backup of sites on my HDD and then have that synced to DropBox.
I chose this because over 15 years I’ve had the ups and downs associated with managing websites for myself and clients, and this seems to have worked out pretty well giving me multiple backup options.
We backup our own websites, our client websites we host for them and also our theme demos for our commercial themes.
Josh Pollock, CalderaWP
When it’s my responsibility or someone wants my opinion I recommend BackupBuddy for all the extra things it does on top of backups, or VaultPress. On our site at CalderaWP we have a bot, Igor, that my partner David wrote, and I don’t understand that we talk to in our Slack. Igor reports daily on having backed up our database, and I trust David and Igor that its working.
Matt Cromwell, WordImpress
We use our web host for daily site backups. I really feel that is the host’s responsibility. Different hosts handle it in different ways, so you might have to pay extra to have a backup restored, but with a good host you can trust that they are backing up the most reliable version of your site. Plus, a host’s backup methods are usually a lot less intense on server resources than a lot of the popular WordPress plugin options. If you don’t have a host that provides daily backups, you should consider moving.
We are backing up all our web properties this way, all our ecommerce sites and demo sites. Backups is just not something to mess around with. Security is vitally important, but no security is bullet-proof — which is why backups are the MOST important part of maintaining a professional website.
Nick Haskins, Aesopinteractiv
It entirely depends on what the application is.
For select personal and business properties, I use VaultPress because I wanted a trusted set-it-and-forget-it solution. With my busy schedule these days I just don’t have the time to deal with any possible issues that could come up using anything else.
I don’t take on clients so I can’t really recommend plugin level solution, other than BackupBuddy, which I haven’t used in years, but remember it working as advertised.
Jami Gibbs, Rescue Themes
I use Pagely for hosting and they handle daily backups for me.
I’ve always hesitated using a plugin for backups. I think largely because there are so many options and opinions about which one is the best that I end up just shrinking away from the entire thing and going with whatever my hosting provider offers. I’m not super knowledgable about servers and databases so it feels like a shot in dark when it comes to backup plugins. Not to mention, when you have over a dozen or so sites you’re managing, handling backups for them myself seems like a burden.
Since Pagely has automatic backups, all of my sites are covered (3 primary domains and 1 multisite with 10 or so theme demos active). All of them directly relate to my business in some way so naturally it’s important to have backups.
Leland Fiegel, WP Chat and Pluginferno
Leland gave me permission to reproduce his answers posted on WP Chat.
When I was on shared hosting I usually used WP-DB-Backup on a schedule, occasionally using BackupWordPress for full site backups. I haven’t really used those in a while though, so not sure if there are better tools. When I was clearing out my shared hosting account, I usually just generated a full cPanel backup for each site.
After I started running my sites off of Digital Ocean, I added my entire site’s source code (including WordPress core files) to a private Git repository, plus a database dump in a non-web-accessible directory. This made it easy to roll back things, quickly deploy on staging servers, etc. without futzing around with sFTP and phpMyAdmin.
I suppose it’s not a “true” backup, but I do store full repo dumps elsewhere. But I haven’t used any traditional backup plugins or FTP or phpMyAdmin in a long time. I just don’t believe plugins at the application level are the best way to handle them any more.
Daniel Espinoza, Shop Plugins
I have a dedicated Digital Ocean droplet on a separate domain that I run InfiniteWP on. I use the Scheduled Backups and Cloud Backup plugins to backup files and database of my 12 sites daily to an Amazon S3 bucket.
I chose this because it’s a flat fee ($118) each year instead of monthly recurring. Also, I can set it up on my own server and “own my data”.
I am backing up my personal blog, business site, wife’s blog, parent’s site, and 6 other blogs that belong to friends. These are important because they are important to me!
David Decker, DECKERWEB
I use a combination of host backup and backup plugins and/or services.
- Host backup is mostly full backup of everything, all files in hosting package plus all databases, ranges from 7 to 30 days at the hosting providers I use (all local German companies)
- Additionally I use a WordPress plugin per site, always one of these: BackWPup (free and premium) OR Snapshot (premium) OR BackupBuddy (premium)
- These backup plugins all allow for more than one backup job, so I make a local backup and one remote (Dropbox for example) for every site
- Which plugin I use is based on client: for most I use BackWPup which is the best free solution available, and it comes from awesome German engineers/devs; I also really like
- Snapshot which has integrated restore functionality! BackupBuddy is used on very few client sites that already had this solution – but it is top-notch too (hovewer, I like the interfaces of the both other plugins more…)
Why this setup:
- I have different backups (hosting provider; plus 2 savings from the backup plugin), this is important: backups at different places, made with different systems etc. for enhanced security etc.
- Hosting provider backup is for the worst case if everything has to be restored again (full hosting package)
- Plugin backups are great for site or project based backup to different destinations
- I only use plugins I like (interface, features) AND which are actively developed & maintained
I have backup solution for every site in place. For Multisites I have full backup and for some Multisites I have a full backup plus individual backup setups for individual sites. But this depends on the type of network/Multisite that was setup.
It is important for a lot of reasons. BackWPup allows for example the backup of an XML export file as well as lists of installed plugins: this is very useful to re-build a site after crash/hack etc. from scratch and re-import the XML file and re-setup plugins etc. without anything of the original data.
Jonathan Christopher, SearchWP and Iron to Iron
I use a variety of backup solutions to be honest. I would say that I use BackupBuddy by iThemes quite often, and also use Duplicator many times. Sometimes when one plugin has trouble in a specific server environment the other one will work. I also use WP Migrate DB Pro a ton. As time goes on, however, more hosts are adding daily backups as part of your hosting plan and I will encourage clients to take advantage of that (so long as the backups can be trusted) simply because those solutions are usually lower level than a PHP script and as a result are that much more stable.
I choose backup solutions that work the vast majority of the time and have proven to be reliable. Backups are a complete necessity and I’d go so far as to say having a redundant backup built on top of your host-provided backup solution is a necessity.
I back up all of my personal and business sites all the time. At Iron to Iron we set clients up with a backup solution and encourage them to check in on those backups periodically, even going so far as to download them to their local machines from time to time just to have even one more layer of redundancy. Having multiple, consistent backups is a complete necessity today.
Sami Keijonen, Foxland
I have three main solutions for backups.
1. Customers site and I have asked would they want a backup solution. Then I have mainly used VaultPress. You know, because it rocks. It has all the features I need and it has never failed me.
I do use VaultPress in one of my site also (foxnet.fi) because it’s critical for me.
Even the Lite version is a good choice.
2. If host provides backup solution I’m fine with that also.
3. If customer doesn’t want to pay for backups and host doesn’t provide it, I install and setup free BackUpWordPress. At least is better than nothing even if the backups are in the same server, not in cloud.
I use backups because I’ve been hacked so often. Backups has to be automated process. That way I don’t need to worry about hacking anymore.
What Can We Learn From These Pros?
These professionals have provided a wealth of information about backup WordPress plugins and non-plugin solutions. This is enough data for me to make some recommendations that should be helpful to you if you are looking for a WordPress backup solution. Here goes…
Backup WordPress Plugins vs. Web Host Backups
I will consider each professional’s positive mention of a backup WordPress plugin or a web host’s backup tools as a “vote” cast for that particular solution.
The majority of professionals are using a backup WordPress plugin. Some had positive things to say about different plugins. At least half are relying on their web host’s backups and many are trusting a WordPress plugin and their web host for backups, which is great because two backups is safer than one. Of the web hosts specifically mentioned, WP Engine and Pagely were popular choices.
Keep in mind that not all web hosts provide full downloadable backups. Even in the case of WP Engine, the downloadable backups they provide do not include your uploads (images, media, etc.). They do make a full daily backup that is kept off site and can be restored at your request, but you do not have access to download it.
The Best Backup WordPress Plugins
Two plugins were trusted quite a bit more often than other solutions. They are both solutions with a price tag. I’m not surprised that the the most favored backup WordPress plugins are commercial products rather than free plugins.
|WP Migrate DB Pro (listing)||2|
|BackWPup (free, Pro Version)||1|
Based on what these professionals say (and based on my own experience), I conclude that VaultPress is the best backup WordPress plugin for most situations. It was often cited as being an easy to use plugin. You install it and connect it with your WordPress.com account, then forget about it while it runs in the background to regularly copy your content to an offsite location for safekeeping. It’s also easy to download a copy of your backups for additional security.
BackupBuddy is clearly ahead of the pack as well. VaultPress starts at $5/month while BackupBuddy is $80/year. Honorable mentions go to WP Migrate DB Pro ($90, free version available) and BackupWordPress (free, 200,000+ active installs). Most of the commercial backup plugins for WordPress are priced comparably.
Tip: While I was preparing this article, an employee at Automattic shared with me that users can get their first month free by signing up to try VaultPress via this URL: https://vaultpress.com/tryit/
Multiple Backup Solution and Owning Your Data
One thing I’d like people to take away from this in addition to which are the best backup WordPress plugins is that you should take multiple measures to protect your data.
- Most professionals use a backup WordPress plugin in addition to their web host’s backups. Why not use two methods of backups for “insurance”, as Eric Dye said? Web hosts are sometimes unable to restore a backup. Likewise, it is possible that a backup WordPress plugin can fail.
- Daniel Espinoza talked about owning his data. Download a copy of your backups periodically. Don’t entrust them entirely to your web host or your backup service provider. These services will be useless to you if for some reason you cannot access them when you need to.
The best backup WordPress plugin is the one that works best for your situation. VaultPress and BackupBuddy are both suitable options, so if you are not using a backup WordPress plugin, start with one of these. If you don’t have a budget for a premium backup WordPress plugin, use a proven free option like BackUpWordPress.
If you’re already using a backup plugin but not utilizing your web host’s backups, be sure to grab a copy of those periodically for insurance. When it comes to preserving your website, it’s better to be safe than sorry and the way to do that is to not only have backups but to have redundant backups.
I want to give a huge “thank you” to the pros who shared their experience for this article and to those who helped me figure out which questions to ask.
So, what do you use for WordPress backups? Leave a comment…
Related: Backup WordPress Plugins category in our directory