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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.

A full site backup is one of the best defenses against any sort of security threat to your website.

Regular backups are one thing that every site owner should have. In the past, we showed you how to keep your content safe with BackupBuddy and how to manually create WordPress database backups.

However, the best thing about WordPress is that you have multiple options for doing anything.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a WordPress backup for free using BackWPup.

Making complete WordPress backup for free with BackWPup

Why Create a WordPress Backup?

Every website owner must create regular website backups to make sure that their data remains safe in case of an accident.

A number of things can affect your website data, such as:

  • Website malware that injects malicious code into your website.
  • Ransomware that locks your website data.
  • Accidental deletion of important website files or data due to human or server error.

Now, you may think that your WordPress hosting company offers regular backups.

However, in our experience, we have found those backups to be unreliable. What happens if the hosting company loses your data? Or what if they suspend your account for some reason and refuse to give your data back?

This is why you must always create your own WordPress backups.

There are a number of ways to automate the whole backup process using one of these excellent WordPress backup plugins.

Note: BackWPup backups can only be restored manually. That’s why we recommend using Duplicator, which is the best WordPress backup solution and is well-known for reliable site restore and migration features.

That being said, let’s look at how to easily create a WordPress backup using BackWPup

Creating WordPress Backup Using BackWPup

For this tutorial, we will be using BackWPup to create a free WordPress backup.

First, you need to install and activate the BackWPup plugin. For more details, see our tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Step 1: Create a Backup Job

Upon plugin activation, you need to visit the BackWPUP » Add new job page. A job in BackWPup is a set of instructions you provide the plugin about the backup you want to make.

Create a new backup job

First, provide a name for your job. This could be anything that helps you remember what this backup does. In our example, we are using “Weekly WordPress Backup”.

Below that, select the tasks you want this backup job to perform. We recommend checking all the options.

Scroll down a little to the ‘Job Destination’ section. This is where you can select where you want to store the backup.

Backup destination

It can store backup files on your server, send them via email, back them up to FTP, and upload them to Dropbox, Amazon S3, Windows Azure, Rackspace, and SugarSync.

Whatever you do, DO NOT store the backups on your server. This defeats the purpose of creating the backup, which is to have a saved copy of your website stored elsewhere.

For this tutorial, we will be using Dropbox.

Choosing an option will add a new tab to the Job menu.

Important: Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

Now, switch to the new tab named after the destination where you want to store your backup. For instance, if you choose Dropbox, then you will see a tab titled ‘To: Dropbox’.

Connect dropbox

From here, you can configure your cloud account settings. For instance, if you selected Dropbox, then just click on the ‘Get Dropbox App auth code’ button to set it up. Then, you will be prompted to allow the app access to your Dropbox account and set up a folder for your backups.

After that, click on the ‘Save changes’ button to save your settings.

Step 2: Schedule Your Backup

Next, you need to switch to the Schedule tab. Under the ‘Start job’ option, choose the ‘with WordPress cron’ option.

Start schedule

WordPress cron is the built-in WordPress system that is used to run scheduled tasks.

Now, scroll down a little and choose your backup job frequency. We recommend choosing a weekly or monthly schedule, depending on how frequently you update your website content.

Set backup schedule frequency

After that, click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

Step 3: Select What to Include in the Backup

Now, you need to choose what you want to include or exclude from the backup.

Switch to the ‘DB Backup’ tab and choose the tables you want to include in your backup. If you are unsure, then you should select all the tables.

Select database tables

Click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

Afterward, switch to the ‘Files’ tab. From here, you can choose which files to exclude from your backup.

If you are unsure, then leave the default options as they are.

Ecclude files from backup

Again, click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

Now, you need to switch to the ‘XML export’ tab. From here, you can generate a WordPress-compatible XML export file of all your content.

Export XML

Default options will work for most websites.

Save your changes and then move to the ‘Plugins’ tab.

Here, the backup plugin will generate a text list of all the plugins installed on your WordPress website.

Plugin list backup

Finally, click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

Step 4: Run the Backup Job

Now that you have created a backup job, you need to run it for the first time.

Go to the BackWPup » Jobs page and click on the ‘Run now’ link below the job you created earlier.

Run backup job

The plugin will now run the backup job and show you the progress.

This may take a while, depending on the size of your website. Once it has finished, you will see a success message.

Backup complete

You can now verify the backup file by visiting the destination source (like Dropbox or the other storage option you chose earlier).

Troubleshooting WordPress Backup Jobs in BackWPup

Running a backup job may cause an extra load on your hosting server. This can result in unfinished backup jobs.

Also, on most shared hosting services, there is a limit to how much time or memory a script can consume. When your server stops BackWPup for crossing the time or memory limit, it waits for a while and then resumes the process. In this case, it will take a while for a backup job to finish.

The first thing you should do to fix this is increase your PHP memory limit, then go to BackWPup » Settings and click on the ‘Jobs’ tab.

BackWPup troubleshooting

Increase the ‘Maximum number of retries for the job steps’ option. The default value is 3, and you can increase it to 5 and see if this works for you.

After that, you must scroll down to the ‘Reduce server load’ option and select either the ‘medium’ or ‘minimum’ server load option.

Finally, make sure to click the ‘Save changes’ button at the bottom to store your settings.

Restoring Your Website From Backup

Unfortunately, BackWPup doesn’t come with a 1-click restore feature. That’s why you will need to manually restore your website from different backup files.

For detailed instructions, see our article about how to restore WordPress from backup and follow the manual restore instructions for database and WordPress files.

If you would like a WordPress backup plugin with an easier restore option, then we recommend using Duplicator instead. There is also a free version of Duplicator with fewer backup options.


For more information, you can see our complete Duplicator review.

We hope this article helped you create a complete WordPress backup with BackWPup. You may also want to see our WordPress security guide for more tips for protecting your website or our expert pick of the best WordPress security plugins to protect your site.

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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

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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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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