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How to Create a Complete WordPress Backup for Free with BackWPup

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How to Create a Complete WordPress Backup for Free with BackWPup

Backups are one of the best defense against any sort of security threat toward your site. Regular backups are one thing that every blogger/webmaster should have. In past we showed you how to keep your content safe with BackupBuddy, and how to manually create WordPress database backups. However, BackupBuddy costs money and manual backups take time. What if we told you that you can create complete WordPress backup for free? Not only that, you can also store them on the cloud, and schedule to do this automatically. In this article we will show you how to create a complete WordPress backup for free with BackWPup.

First thing you need to do is install and activate BackWPup plugin. Upon activation, the plugin will display a welcome page. It will also add a BackWPup menu item in your WordPress admin sidebar.

BackWPup Menu

Creating Backup Jobs with BackWPup

Click on Add New Job to create an automated backup job for your WordPress website. Under General tab, provide a name for this job. This name will be used internally and will help you identify each backup instance. Under the Job Tasks section, select the type of tasks you want this to perform. Available tasks include database backup, file backup, WordPress XML export, Installed plugins list, optimize database tables and check database tables. If you just want to create backup of your website, then you can select all options except for optimize and check database tables.

Create a new backup job in BackWPup

Under backup file creation section, choose an archive type. The default option is tar.gz, however you can choose zip archive if you want. Below this, you will see Job Destination section. This is where your backups will be stored. BackWPup provides multiple options to store your backup files. It can store backup file on your server, send it via email, backup to FTP, backup to dropbox, amazon S3, Windows Azure, Rackspace, and Sugarsync. Whatever you do, DO NOT store the backups on your server. For the sake of this WordPress tutorial, we will be using DropBox.

Choose backup destination and compression

Scheduling Automated Backup in WordPress using BackWPup

Click on Schedule tab and choose how often do you want to backup your site. You can schedule it to run monhtly, weekly, or daily basis by choosing WordPress Cron option. Alternatively, you can choose to manually run the job, so that you can create on-demand backups of your site. For advance level users there are more choices like using a URL to start the job externally using some other software or starting the job using WP-CLI, a command line interface for WordPress. For beginner level users we would highly recommend scheduling a daily or weekly backup by choosing WordPres Cron option.

Scheduling automatic backups in WordPress using BackWPup

What to Backup?

Click on DB Backup tab to select which tables you want to be included in the backup. Sometimes WordPress plugins create their own tables into your database, most of the time this data is not crucial and you may not need it. Unchecking these tables will reduce your backup size. However if you don’t know what you are doing, then keep all tables selected.

Select or exclude tables from backup job

Under the Files tab you can select which directories and files you want to include in the backup job. We would recommend that you do not backup core WordPress files. Instead, only backup your wp-content/uploads folder. Uncheck Backup root folder. Exclude any folders in wp-content folder that you don’t want. For example, sometimes plugins will create their own directories inside wp-content folder to store plugin data. You can exclude these folders if you want.

Select or Include files and directories from backup job

Saving WordPress Backups To Dropbox

Depending on what you chose as destination for your backup, you will see a tab for it. In this tutorial we will show you how to automatically upload your WordPress backup to Dropbox using BackupWP plugin. So click on Dropbox tab and then click on Reauthenticate (full Dropbox).

Authenticate with Dropbox to save your backups to Dropbox

This will take you to the Dropbox website where you will be asked to provide your username and password. After signing in, DropBox will ask for your permission to grant BackWPup access to your DropBox account.

Giving BackWPup Access to your Dropbox account

After that, the plugin will take care of the rest.

Creating Multiple WordPress Backup Jobs using BackWPup

You can create multiple backup jobs with BackWPup. For example, you can create a scheduled job to run on a daily or weekly basis to backup your WordPress Database and another job to run manually for backing up your WordPress files only. You can see all jobs created by you on BackWPup » Jobs page. You can run any of the backup jobs by clicking on Run Now link below the job, even for scheduled jobs. You can also edit settings for a job or delete it entirely.

Creating and managing multiple Backup Jobs

Running a Backup Job

When you execute a Backup Job manually by clicking on Run Now link, BackWPup will display the backup progress. Clicking on display working log, you can see what is going on in the background. If for some reason the backup job fails, then this log will also display the reason. You can also abort a job during the progress by clicking on abort button.

Running a manual backup job in BackWPup

Troubleshooting WordPress Backup Jobs in BackWPup

Running a backup job may cause extra load on your hosting server. This may result in unfinished backup jobs. Also on most shared hosting services, there is a limit on how much time or memory a script can consume. When your server stops BackWPup for crossing the time or memory limit, it waits for 5 minutes and then resumes the process. In this case, it would take a while for a backup job to finish.

The first thing you should do is increase your PHP memory limit, then go to BackWPup » Settings and click on the Jobs tab. Increase Maximum number of restries for job steps option. The default value is 3, you can increase it to 5 and see if this works for you. After that scroll down to Reduce server load option and select medium or minimum server load options.

Increasing memory and reducing server load for BackWPup

Final Thoughts

You are probably wondering if a good free plugin like BackWPup exist, then why do people pay for plugins like BackupBuddy or VaultPress. One of the reason is support. When you pay for a product, then you are guaranteed to get support. Another thing that we notice with both BackupBuddy and VaultPress is that they offer malware scanning. We use VaultPress because it is a 100% managed service. The backup is stored in their cloud server, and it is a pretty fool-proof setup.

We can not stress this enough that you need to back up your site regularly. Do not wait for your WordPress site getting hacked or infected with malware, start backing up now, so that you can swiftly restore WordPress from backup when the time comes. We hope that this guide helped you automate your WordPress backups. Let us know which WordPress backup solution you use by leaving a comment below.

Note: Due to a lot of request, we wrote an article about how to restore WordPress from Backup. If you use BackWPup, then you would be following the manual back restore option in the article.

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Aakarshit Choudhary says:

    hey bro!
    I am a wordpress begineer!
    Please tell me how I can use this backup on my website if my website crashes?

  2. Jane Bonney says:

    I found the instructions fairly clear and helpful, although sometimes the phrasing could be a little better to make the instructions better.

    When I backed up I got the following error mesages:

    ERROR: Dropbox API: (56) SSL read: error:00000000:lib(0):func(0):reason(0), errno 104
    ERROR: Job has ended with errors in 5150 seconds. You must resolve the errors for correct execution.

    So what do I do please?

    • JANE BONNEY says:

      I discovered this was because my dropbox was full. So the solution was simply to delete some of the media I had uploaded and not used or increase dropbox space allowance.

  3. Rachel says:

    Hi! Thanks for this great post! When creating a job – I say to back up to Dropbox but it doesn’t say ‘Reauthenticate’….It just says Create account. I already have a Dropbox account, so when I click on Create Account it doesn’t request permission as shown in this post, it tells me how much available space I have and prompts me to get more. I’m stuck on what to do.

  4. Francis says:

    I use BackWPup on my site and it shows it has backed up correctly and the test mail has also arrived but I do not get the backups sent to my email. I tried different email accounts but it doesn’t send anything unless there is an error. How can I get the backups sent to email and how can I download them? Thanks very much.

  5. Nikhil Ganotra says:

    Earlier I was using backupWordPress and it was consuming too much bandwidth. This plugin is awesome!

  6. Deja says:

    Hi, I have the same error: “Not expected HTTP response body: 429 Too many requests body { padding-top: 60px; /* 60px to make the container go all the way to the bottom of the topbar */ } Error 429 Too many requests”
    Does anyone know the solution for this? Many thanks in advance.

  7. Gil Andrei says:

    Hi, on your past article you said that restoring WordPress from BackWPUp is simple, how would you do that? Thanks!

  8. Sacha says:

    Thanks for the great post, BackWPup looks like a very good option for me. But how would you restore from a backup?

  9. Tracey says:

    Another great post. I really don’t know what I’d do without your website. its he first thing I turn to if I get stuck with something on my blog! Many, many thanks.

  10. Obidigwe Kenechukwu says:

    Thanks for this great article, I love what you people.

    I just got one question: what is the role of wordpress default “Blog import and export” as regard backing up of site?

    Please I need to know.

    Thanks once again.

  11. Karan says:

    Does it really create a full backup including all the settings, posts, media etc? Will this backup enough to restore a completely formatted site?

  12. Melinda says:

    Thanks for the article! I tried using this plugin message, but I received an error message when backing up.

    Not expected HTTP response body: 429 Too many requests body { padding-top: 60px; /* 60px to make the container go all the way to the bottom of the topbar */ } Error 429 Too many requests

    I’m not very knowledgeable about coding, can you help!

  13. Anna says:

    I’m exploring this topic because I’m about to set up my first WP site. I’m wondering, however, if every site really needs so much attention paid to back-up? Our site will essentially be static, that is, it’s not a blog so there are no posts, nor are there comments: its content comprises text and photos which are ours and are backed-up elsewhere.

    I will be using a purchased theme so those files, as well, are elsewhere. Of course the entire site once created will position the photos and text according to the theme and that will involve customization and work. That I can see the value of backing-up, but a one-time ought to do it, no?

    I’d appreciate someone experienced helping me clarify this! Thanks.

  14. Aniket says:

    Thanks for coming up with an important topic. I am already using backwpup on my site.
    I am using the dropbox option. But, the dropbox comes with a limited space of 2GB.
    What should I do after this?
    Should I delete some of the previous files to generate space? If yes, which files should I delete?

  15. Hasnain Abid Khanzada says:

    Hello Bro,I Have Done All The Things But I Am Getting The Error When Trying To Run The Backup..The Error Is ” The HTTP response test get an error “Failure when receiving data from the peer “…Hope That You Will Solve The Problem.


  16. Andy Lawrence says:

    Hey, I’ve been trying this for a while but when I run the script to back up, it doesn’t ever finish. I’ve followed all the instructions but it’s not working.

  17. Kenrick says:

    hi great summary! To bad i am getting this errorwhen I try to back up
    ERROR: Signal 15 is sent to script!

    How to fix this?


  18. Ayesha says:

    Thanks, I just backed up my site using this method, before I was just using another free backup plugin and this works just as well :)

  19. Michale says:

    Did you ever try to restore a site from a backup made using BackWPup? Since BackWPup doesn’t have a “Restore backup” option, that would be an interesting post..

  20. Ziacinzia says:

    HI, thank you for this article. I have an issue though, my dropbox is almost full and as my site grows, it takes more and more space, so I wonder what i should do when I run out of space? Is there a similar alternative to dropbox to save the backup jobs? Many thanks

    • WPBeginner Staff says:

      You can purchase more space. Alternately you can try saving your backups to Google Drive.

      • Ziacinzia says:

        I read that Google Drive does not encrypt files and is not a safe option. May I please have your view on that? Thank you

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