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How to Create a Complete WordPress Backup for Free with BackWPup

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on WPBeginner. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. Learn more about Editorial Process.

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 monthly, 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.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

133 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

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  2. WPBeginner Staff says

    1. The backups on your hosting service provider are sometimes not available. Also these backups could get compromised. Sometimes web hosting companies may even terminate your account without giving you enough time to get your files. In all these scenarios, and there are many others too, the user looses the access to their backup files.

    2. Saving backups on the same server as your website actually defeats the purpose of backing up in the first place. For example, if the security of your server is compromised then your backup files could get affected too. This would make it immensely difficult for you to restore your website.

    • Michael Einstein says

      OK.. I understand and this makes sense.. So would the WordPress Backup to Dropbox be a good option as an alternate place to store the backups, or perhaps to my google drive? Although I do worry a bit that these sites aren’t totally secure either. Only other option is if I can configure a backup to go to an external drive I have on my home computer that gets backed up everynight to a cloud-based backup.. That way I would have it on my home computer AND on the cloud. But this won’t work if my home computer is turned-off, although it is “usually on”.

  3. Michael Einstein says

    A few Newbie questions here:
    1) If I use Bluehost for a hosted WordPress site, that comes with daily backups of my entire site. Why would I also need a seperate wordpress backup solution? Couldn’t I always just restore my site if anything ever happened through my cPANEL in Bluehost?
    2) In this article, it says: “Whatever you do, DO NOT store the backups on your server.” Why? Isn’t this a good/secure place to store your backup since it also will get backed-up? Where else would I store it? Dropbox?? That actually sounds less safe and secure then in a dedicated directory somewhere on my hosting server.
    Thanks for the help!

    • Duncan McCormack says

      It’s redundancy surely.

      I think it’s a good idea to either use another backup technology (plugins) as well as your hosted provider method.

      I also think it’s a good idea to download your hosted provider backups and put ’em elswhere (on your work/home PC?) – but I’m happy to trust cloud technology providers, particularly Google and Microsoft. I reckon Dropbox are pretty trustworth too, eh? Surely. :)

  4. tealady46 says

    I’ve followed the tutorial and am being told that it’s all backed up but when I’ve checked in my dropbox folder, I can’t see it. Any ideas??

    • Eloise says

      There will be a separate BackWPup folder in your Dropbox – it’s not immediately obvious, so have a look around. Took me a couple of mins to find it when I first started doing using BackWPup too!

  5. Vitaliy Kolos says

    OK, I’ve backed up my files, database, list of plugins, but now I’m sort of stuck because I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do next. I mean I know I’m supposed to restore certain files, but I’m afraid that I’ll override something that I actually need. Do I just leave wp-config.php alone and update the rest or what am I supposed to do next?

  6. harishchouhan says

    I have been using BackWPup since a while, but the “This APP will have access to your entire DropBox” scares me. With so many security issues being exploited every now and then, one wrong step, and I hope my DropBox data is not compromised.

  7. Abhishek Jain says

    This is a real article to read about the v=backup of wordpress site… Thanks to author….

  8. Carole says

    If you do a daily backups to Dropbox, do the files with changes replace the existing files or is a complete new backup added each day? My ecomm website seems to be 5GB so that could quickly blow through even 100GB of Dropbox storage.

  9. Pali Madra says

    As usual a great tutorial.

    I did want to point out that in the first tab, which is called General, under the job details section the option to optimize database tables is not there anymore. Is this the case with me only or is it the same for everyone?


  10. Aditya Shirodkar says

    Thanks a lot for introducing me to this great plugin!… you guys are doing a great job!

  11. E.D Gasçon says

    Hey Syed, Thanks for sharing this info. This is a great article. I’m using Updraftplus backup/restore. I have a question please. This may sound silly… sending daily backups to the cloud (Dropbox) as opposed to weekly backups, would that take more storage space? If earlier versions of files are deleted then why am I running out of space so quickly? I’m not really adding much content to my sites (I’m not a blogger). I’m such a newb! Thanks

  12. Alison Kirksey says

    First, let me say that WPBeginner has been awesome to work with thus far and saved my bacon more than once as I navigate this tricky new world of
    I just followed this tutorial (I thought) to the letter. I keep getting a message that stops my back up. It says:
    ERROR: Could not generate a WordPress export file
    I’m such a newb, and don’t know what to do. What am I missing?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      There could be several reasons for that. Please contact the plugin support thread for more help.

      1. Incorrect file permissions on your WordPress site will prevent the plugin from storing the backup file.
      2. Try changing the archive file type from zip to tar or tar.gzip
      3. Try creating a new backup job using different settings.


  13. Vibeke says

    Thanks for a very user-friendly tutorial. It worked well when installing the plugin and scheduling the back-up frequency, but I see now that the BackWPup menu item is no longer visible in my WordPress admin sidebar, and I cannot see any other place to edit the scheduled back-ups etc.

    I would appreciate any help.

    Many thanks in advance!

  14. Haseeb Ahmad Ayazi says

    Hello Guys, Like Your Tut.. I Want you to give me a solution for my Network .. I am using MU and Want to store Media Files , Database and such other things to backup from the Network Admin Panel.

  15. Allie says

    Hi and thanks so much for the great tutorial. I’ve installed BackWPup on your recommendation. My web designer set my blog up back in June and I’ve never backed it up. It’s been bugging me all along, I’m not so good with the techy stuff, and I didn’t know how to do it. This plugin seems really easy to use but unfortunately I’m running into problems. Every time I start a backup job, it gets stuck at 57%. I’ve clicked over to the php Memory Limit post you’ve linked to, but I am just not understanding… I can find the wp-config.php file in my c-panel, but when I click “edit,” I don’t see anything there with regard to memory limit. I’d be so grateful if you could spell it out for me, I am truly a beginner so please talk to me like I’m a first-grader! Thanks so much in advance :)

    • WPBeginner Support says

      wp-config.php file is located in your website’s root directory. You can access it by using a web based “File manager” such as one located under Files in your cPanel dashboard. If you can not edit a file in the file manager, you can always download it to your computer and open it in a text editor like notepad. After that you can edit the file and upload it back to your website using the file manager.


  16. Nick says

    Job destination only Backup to Folder & Backup sent by e-mail for me?
    Only these two options! Any idea for that issue?
    Thanks in advance!

  17. Nevis1 says

    Any chance this works with Google Drive? They offer more free storage, and are cheaper in the long run. Thanks, very interesting post.

  18. Mike says

    Hi there, thanks for tutorial but as i use already this plugin, my question concerns its compatibility with Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions plugin. Can i use this one as well in complement to BackWPUP or does BackWPUP optimize as well ?

    Thank you very much


    • WPBeginner Support says

      The plugin you mentioned deletes posts revisions stored in your database and optimizes it. We believe there is no reason these two plugins should have a conflict. However, if you create a backup before deleting post reivisions, BackWPup will obviously backup the post revisions which you are later going to delete. So when you restore your website those posts will be back. The solution to this problem is that you manually run BackWPUp after deleting your post revisions.


  19. Brittany Fichter says

    Thank you for this article! I was wondering if I should delete old backup jobs to save space in my Dropbox (or if that’s even an option). Thanks again for the article!

  20. Brittany Fichter says

    Thank you for this article! I’ve only had my website up for a month, but I can’t imagine losing it! I was wondering if I should delete old backup jobs to save space in my Dropbox (or if that’s even an option). Thanks again for the article!

  21. kalyan says

    Your tutorial was immensely helpful ,
    1. you helped me finalize one awesome plugin
    2. It was a cakewalk after reading your tutorial (you didn’t miss a thing :) )
    3. you wrote a restore tutorial ( If in case )

    just love your site . thank you .

  22. Maggie says

    Thank you for the article. I followed your instructions step-by-step and it worked out easily! I have successfully backed up my blog to S3.

    Just one more thing to curious about. During set up the back up job, you mentioned in the article that “We would recommend that you do not backup core WordPress files.”
    Could you also explain why? Because I am totally new to WordPress, and I need to make sure I had my whole site backed up. I was feeling nervous to un-tick those boxes without understanding why to do it.

    • Naren P says

      Because you can always download the latest version of wordpress core files in zip format through this website keep in mind, the “database” and the “wp-content” are the two most important part to be backed up on a regular basis. With your wp-content and database file, you can restore or even migrate your site to any hosting.

  23. Ann Courtney says

    Hi, can you tell me if this will backup galleries of photos on my site or only the Blog text?
    Thanks for all your great ideas :)

  24. Jaime Jay says

    Thanks so much for this article… I found it very useful… However, I did encounter some challenges with Dropbox, so I just used my FTP for the backup. Now, the challenge of actually finding the backup in my http://FTP... lol… thanks again!

  25. Charlie Sasser says

    Great tutorial! I’m currently using BackWPup but still picked up a few new things.

    …however you said: “Whatever you do, DO NOT store the backups on your server.”

    I understand why you are saying this but as long as the “one” stored on your own server is not the “only” backup, I actually think it is a good idea.

    I have daily backups created and sent to Drop Box, Gmail, and one to a backup folder on the web server. It is a lot easier to use the one in the backup folder on the server if needed. If the whole web server crashes and burns and I lose the local backup, I still have the backups at Drop Box and Gmail.

    If you store “a” copy on your web server, you need to make sure your backup is not backing up your backups by excluding that directory. Nothing like learning the hard way. :-)

    If I’m using Wordfence Plugin is the fact that BackupBuddy and VaultPress do malware scanning still of value?

    • Editorial Staff says


      If you are storing backups on your server, then make sure those directories are protected. Because if someone gets their hands on the backup and download it, then your site can be compromised because they can use the database to find necessary information to login.

      WordFence is nice, but we’d say that 2 layers of security is better than one :)


    • Peter says

      My CPanel host included anti-virus software that could manually check for a virus within directories, but it’s a waste of time as it won’t scan for a virus deliberately hidden within compressed backup files stored on the server usually created prior to downloading. So, when my site was hacked, the “shell program” of the virus/trojan, had been stored in the compressed backup “tar” file. When I downloaded it onto my computer it too failed to detect it, as did most popular Antivirus programs. So unless you know the host antivirus program works, it’s not worth relying on, I found that out the hard way too, the virus turned out to be a popular “PHP Trojan”, hard to find for the novice.One “free” program that actually found it without decompressing the “tar” file was Avast V7, but sadly the current version causes my SCSI based system to crash almost instantly, hence I reverted to MES, it doesn’t scan compressed files, but neither does it crash my system.

  26. Tom Jamieson says

    This is a great tutorial on how to use this plugin. Do you have any opinion on how it compares to the Backup to Dropbox plugin?

  27. Karan Singh Chauhan says

    Now if our site gets deleted or hacked, the how to restore it with using backup gz file.

  28. Marc Connor says

    Excellent article guys, great and easy instructions.

    However, I must agree with Peter, the most crucial part of a backup is the restoration. No matter how nice and easy or fun the backup process of any tool is, if the restoration part of it is difficult and/or buggy, it’s a big bust.

    Any thoughts, comments and/or other feedback on the restoration part of the BackWPUp plugin?


    • Peter says

      Exactly the point Marc, I agree, having backups are fine, I had several backup files compressed in an unfamiliar to me “tar” format (My host site did not give me a choice). It took some time to work out how to un-compress them, let alone how to transfer them back over to a compromised site and into their respective folders. Due to the frustration of not knowing how to do that, I gave up and totally rebuilt the site; luckily I copies of text and graphics files.
      Since then I learned how to use the free File Transfer Program “FileZilla” to transfer files and directories onto my host site and overwrite existing files. Initially that was a nervous learning exercise, but I now do it regularly and reliably.
      How many WP admins actually know how to backup and restore their sites in case of a major disaster? I had several backups, but did not know how to restore them successfully.
      Sure there are affordable paid services out there, but for a simple hobby blog site, that may not be viable. The aim is to make a blog site or website as cheap as possible for the novice. However, once many hours have been spent setting up a website, how many sysops are actually willing to risk using a “Restore” function in a plugin program just to prove that it actually works when needed? I did not, and when it came to the crunch where I had no choice, it failed to work. Based on that experience, I would not try a “Restore” via Plugin unless I also knew how to do that manually in case the automated process failed.
      There are viable alternatives, generally on the host site, but they all need to be mastered. My host used the popular CPanel hosting which has several programs capable of file transfer and backup, but the “restore process” is not as straight forward.
      In my humble opinion, the ideal time to try to “restore a site” is when it has just been setup, with the minimum work spent on it, just in case it doesn’t work and one needs to start over. This site is aptly named WPbeginner hence restoring a crashed site is just as important as setting it up in the first place.

        • Peter says

          Thanks Editorial staff, had I known and tried out one of these methods before our site was hacked, it would have saved me many reconstruction hours.
          I used FileZilla as described in your tutorial, but I was forced to learn that the hard way.
          Sadly, most novices only do this after disaster has struck and are then forced to learn the hard way.
          On another note, and if not already done, I would like to see an easy way of changing the font size and background colour or shading of blogs and replies in the twenty ten theme, e.g. blogs light blue with replies light green etc., but without resorting to program changes in the style sheets.
          However, if that is the only practical way, then a detailed step by step tutorial on how to do that, without learning extensive programming, but including samples of typical results would also help.
          Great site, keep it up.

  29. Sidd says

    The one service that always works in every scenario (but is not free) is VaultPress.

    Where BackWPup(free), Snapshot by WPMU(premium) and inbuilt backups of ManageWP(premium) failed, only VaultPress passed.

  30. Roy Hornsby says

    Thanks for the article, currently I’m using WPB2D but after reading this I think I’ll try out BackWPup.

    It would be useful to read a tutorial on how to restore WordPress from a backup. Is there one on WPBeginner?


  31. Gerald Thulbourn says

    All well and good if you can get BackWPup working. Past experience is that it dislikes running on many hosts and each update seems to bring in more problems, not fewer. Usually followed by a flury of bug fix subsequent updates. I live the idea, especially backup to drop box, but it just comes across as somewhat flaky.

  32. Arsalan says

    Nice article. I currently use WP Backup for this purpose but have found it to be limited in flexibility/functionality and have compatibility issues with newer versions of WordPress.

  33. mary says

    I read that this plugin needs PHP 5.2.6.

    I have no understanding of what or where that is.

    Also, are the drop boxes free as well? Thanks Mary

    • Editorial Staff says

      Mary, Dropbox is free up until a certain point. After that you have to pay. PHP 5.2.6 is something that your host will have to answer. It is just the version number of the script they have installed.


      • Mary says

        Hey, Thank you for that information! I really like the idea of storing information away from my computer and the server.
        Great articles!!! Best wishes!!!!Mary

  34. David says

    Nice to discover this. Sometimes a good plugin and go undetectable from the WP plugin search box. This one looks like it will meet my needs. Thanks, guys.

  35. Peter says

    Great tutorial detailed and easily followed, unfortunately this is only half of what is needed.
    Reliable “Restoring” is the crucial other half, a detailed tutorial (aimed at the novice) on how to do this, using the BackWPup files saved in Dropbox would be great, especially for a system that had been compromised. I spent many hours restoring my site, including using a plugin called UpdraftPlus-Backup/Restore created by David Anderson. When I needed to do a Restore it failed and just froze. Why I never found out, probably my fault, I still run it and allow it to generate backup files to Dropbox, just cannot seem to make the “Restore” part work.

    However, since then I have learnt to use FileZilla FTP, that works every time and allows me to restore the site without problems including experimenting with different designs and trying out plugins, some that were found to be dodgy.
    Sadly it took several hackers to crash my site and then for me to realise that some backup and restore plugins are just too unreliable or too difficult for me to use with confidence.
    Thanks for WP, great program, used it since 2009, currently using the “twenty ten theme”.

    • Editorial Staff says

      Hey Peter,

      Reliable storing comes at a price. If you notice that VaultPress has a $5/mo. plan, and it is hassle-free. In order for you to setup a S3 environment and do all that, it would take time and money after a certain point. BackupBuddy has Stash which aims to ease things up, but again its a paid plugin.


  36. Daniel Chisu says

    thanks for this free plugin. I am new with Word Press and I am just building my blog/website and I was wondering how can I backup accordingly.
    So this newsletter came at the perfect moment and actually all the tutorials are great indeed!

    Many thanks!

  37. Manuel says

    Thanks for this great article!
    It’s great to see how much you like our Plugin :)
    I just want to add the point that there is also a BackWPup Pro version in our market. With premium support and of course additional features like differential backup of changed directories to Dropbox, S3… and many more.
    And how Syed mentioned: “The most important backup is the one that has never been made!”


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