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How to Create a Complete WordPress Backup for Free with BackWPup

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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. Eloise says

    BackWPUp just changed the way the plugin accesses / stores backup files in Dropbox. The info they have given is pretty rubbish! Please can you update this article to reflect those changes, and advise users on how best to re-connect BackWPUp with Dropbox? Cheers!

    • WPBeginner Support says

      We will certainly look into updating this article. If you reach out to BackWPUp they should be able to help and clarify on anything that is confusing in their documentation as well


  3. Duncan McCormack says

    Hey guys, I’ve just had a look at this backup plugin on its page.

    You have to BUY the pro version to do a RESTORE!!!

    That right??? Sure reads that way to me.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      They created a method to restore the backup using the plugin rather than manually and that feature they are requiring pro, you can still restore your site manually without the pro version.


  4. James says

    In the dropbox tab, for me today 2/10/19, next to the Authentication it said ” not Authenticated “, and said create an account. but i already have an account so it would not give me the allow the plugin option. However, I clicked on the dropbox Authentication button, it then brought up my dropbox and it displayed a code. Copy and pasted that code into the box and it then went to the allow BackWPup. Just in case anyone else comes across that problem. But thanks for the tutorial, one of many that I use..

  5. Chris says

    If you cant see the re-authenticate option in your drop box account then you need to just click on the button below this one in your backup plugin settings. It will then prompt you to allow access and grant a code.

    I had the same issue and it worked for me.


  6. Eloise says

    The layout on BackWPup seems to have changed bit since this article was written – the Jobs tab now seems to be called Schedule, and when I go in there I can’t find an option to set the number of server re-tries..?
    Every other site I’m using BackWPup on works fine. But one site that I manage is having a few problems; the site is quite large, lots of plugins, and I keep getting error messages that ZIP files are not closing properly during execution. Any thoughts/revisions that might be helpful please?
    Many thanks!

  7. john moses says

    Nice writeup. Ihave done backup before but I wasn’t able to restore my Media Library images. When you bakup with this plugin, and you restore, will the will the media library images be restored too?

  8. Ravi Dixit says

    A very helpful post.
    Can you tell me how to save backups files to the local disk of the computer with BackWPup plugin?

  9. moumita says

    wpbeginner, you are my only destination whenever I face any wp issues. Really cant imagine using wordpress without your help

  10. Pierre BLAZER says

    Hi there ! I just installed BackWPup, and I can see there are several possibilities to archive the backup in the GENERAL tab: ZIP, TAR, TAR GZIP etc. Afterward, under the DATABASE tab for example, the choice to compress is only: GZIP or NOTHING, so I’m a bit confused. What should I do if I chose ZIP as an archive? Should I choose GZIP ?? Thanks.

  11. anders says

    Does this have support with Azure ARM Storage. I get this error:

    400 Value: The value for one of the HTTP headers is not in the correct format.

    Seems like there is a issue with the API this version is using. Anyone have managed to do this successfully with ARM Cold Storage account?

  12. Don Saroos says

    Thanks but one thing missing i cant actually connect to dropbox any little help will be highly welcomed

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    • Chris says

      same here for me too. I tried everything but not sure if its because you need to have a paid account that supports API integration.

  16. 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.

  17. Nikhil Ganotra says

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

  18. 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.

  19. Gil Andrei says

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

  20. Sacha says

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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.


  28. 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.

  29. 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?


  30. 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 :)

  31. 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..

  32. 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

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