Building a good website takes a lot of time or money. Or both. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to start all over again? For example, because a hacker mutilates your website, or because you accidentally delete crucial files? An update that goes wrong? Or even because something goes wrong with your host?
A backup is like a good insurance policy. If something goes wrong, the damage is manageable and you are quickly back in business. A backup is therefore extremely important. A small investment to ensure that everything is properly arranged.
There are many different backup plugins on the market. I have listed the 6 best plugins for backup are below.
But before we start, just this briefly:
You will often see the term ‘incremental backup’ in this article. I can imagine that is a term that you do not know yet.
A standard backup is a copy of your website at that moment. Everything is copied to a different place, whether or not packed in a ZIP file. Suppose you add a new image to your website today, this image will be copied every day after today.
If you are using incremental backups, a full backup will be made first. Thereafter, each subsequent backup saves only the files that have changed since the previous full or incremental backup. To restore a full backup, the last full backup and all subsequent incremental backups are required.
The big advantage of incremental backups is that you need much less space to store the backups. You don’t make a full copy every day, but you only save those new files. Moreover, it also takes much less computing power to make the backup. Copying a few files is much faster than (again) packing the entire website in a ZIP file and sending it.
Backups with your host
In some cases, your host offers options to make automatic daily backups. That in itself is a nice solution. It will burden your web server as little as possible. And if this is part of the regular service of your host, in many cases it costs nothing extra.
There are also drawbacks to this solution.
It is often more difficult to keep track of whether the backups have been performed properly because you have to log in to the management environment of your host, your hosting panel. Personally, I don’t get into my hosting panel that often. However, I am in my WordPress Dashboard almost every day.
Moreover, I think you should always have access to your backups yourself. It is also protection if something goes wrong with your host. That does not have to be only technical. Even if you have a conflict with your host, it is nice if you have the backups yourself and can quickly be back online elsewhere.
Below according to my 6 tips for backup plugins, in no particular order.
BackupBuddy is a plugin from iThemes, also known from iThemes Security. The plugin has been around since 2010. According to their own website, half a million websites are backed up by BackupBuddy.
With BackupBuddy you can easily schedule when you want to have backups of your website made, such as at night, when you receive few visitors.
In addition, BackupBuddy has a ‘real-time’ solution with Stash Live. Changes to your website are then immediately backed up.
UpdraftPlus is one of the best backup plugins at the moment. The free version currently has more than 1 million active installations.
Even with the free version, you can easily schedule backups and you can have backups placed on an external storage location (Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, SFTP, etc.). Restoring backups is very easy. You just cannot schedule the time. The backup may then be made at a time when you also have a lot of visitors. That can result in a slower loading time.
With the paid version you get, among other things, the option to also schedule the time of backups, easily make copies of your websites and you get priority at the support department.
And, the biggest advantage of the Pro version of UpdraftPlus: since the end of last year, the Pro version also allows you to make incremental backups.
All in all, UpdraftPlus is a very nice product.
BackWPup is a relatively simple plugin that does exactly what its name says: create WordPress backups.
This plugin does its job without unnecessary frills.
With the paid version you get a number of extra options for storing your backups externally, such as Google Drive. You also get the option to automatically restore a backup.
What is important to note: the free version does not allow you to encrypt your backups (encryption). That is an option of the Pro version. This is important in the context of the AVG / GDPR. There is probably personal data on your website. Consider, for example, submitted contact forms. And since you will (probably) store the backups with a third party, it is important that this data is encrypted.
Duplicator is a plugin that is actually designed to make a copy of a WordPress website or to maintain a WordPress website. Since a backup is basically the same as making a copy, this plugin is also widely used for backups.
If you want to schedule backups so that they are made automatically, you will need to purchase the Pro version.
Duplicator does not provide any options to encrypt your backups. If you store your backups with a third party, you may not comply with the GDPR.
VaultPress (via Jetpack)
VaultPress is the backup solution that is part of Jetpack and was developed by Automattic. Automattic is the company of WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg.
Jetpack is a kind of total package of services for your website. For example, with the Personal subscription you not only get VaultPress, but also logging, a signal when your site is down and extensive statistics. From the Premium variant (from € 99 p / year) you also have access to daily malware scans.
A disadvantage is that Jetpack is a large plugin, which can sometimes slow down a website.
As far as I can tell, VaultPress does not encrypt your backups. This may be a problem under AVG / GDPR.
WP Time Capsule
WP Time Capsule has been developed around making incremental backups (see above). When you activate WP Time Capsule, a full backup of your website will be made first. This can take quite a while, depending on the size of your website.
Only the changed files will be backed up with each subsequent backup. That goes very quickly.
WP Time Capsule also offers the option to automatically create a backup before performing any updates on your website. Some other backup plugins also offer this option, but that is often not an option, as creating a new backup often takes a long time. Because a new backup of WP Time Capsule is made very quickly, it is perfectly doable in this case.
In addition, WP Time Capsule also offers many extra options. This way you can very quickly make a copy of your website (staging version) where you can try out changes or new plugins, without affecting the live version of your website. If you like the changes, you can have the changes reflected on your live version of your website.
WP Time Capsule backups are stored on Dropbox, Google Drive or Amazon S3. You will therefore have to purchase a subscription to one of these three services.
For WordPress Super Service I have been using WP Time Capsule on more than 70 websites since the fall of 2018.
My personal preference is WP Time Capsule, but UpdraftPlus and BackupBuddy are also very nice products.
If you plan to use the extra Jetpack functionalities, VaultPress is also a great option. Just keep in mind that encryption is missing and you may no longer comply with AVG / GDPR guidelines.