Difficulty: Easy

Backing up your website is one of the most important things you can do.  If you ever need to revert back from a bad update, hacked site, or changes made that did not go as planned.  While some web hosts do automatic backups, it cannot be assumed that all do.  The website owner should always take ownership of backing up their site.

Table of Contents:


In this tutorial we will be going over UpdraftPlus.  I personally use the premium version of UpdraftPlus on all my WordPress websites.  I like how the backup is broken up into different files instead of lumping everything into one file.  It makes for quick restores and not having to dig through a backup file for specific files. 

For this tutorial we will focus on the free version, but I will bring up some of the extras that you get in the premium version.  To learn more about UpdraftPlus, check out both their WordPress plugin page, https://wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/, and their website, https://updraftplus.com/.


UpdraftPlus can be installed from the WordPress plugin repository.  So, you will be able to install it from Plugins > Add New Plugin from the admin interface. 

Installing UpdraftPlus


You have two ways of accessing UpdraftPlus once it is installed.  One is through Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups and the other is from the top bar which has some quick settings.

Accessing UpdraftPlus

Once inside you have access to a bunch of settings.  Some which are available in the free plugin and others that are in the premium version.  You have: Backup / Restore, Migrate / Clone, Settings, Advanced Tools, and Premium / Extensions.  We will be going through each setting and showing what it can do.

UppdraftPlussettingsBackup / Restore

This section is where you can backup, manage backups, and restore backups from.  Both local and remote backups can be accessed from here.

Migrate / Clone

This is a premium version section.  From here you can migrate your site to another server or from a test environment to production.  UpdraftClone is a new feature that allows you to use Updraftplus' servers to host a cloned version of your site and lets you test out new PHP settings, plugins, themes, etc. in an easy manner.


In the settings menu, you have the option to setup automatic backups, backup retention, and remote backups.  UpdraftPlus allows you the use of Google Drive, Amazon S3, Rackspace, and a few others in the free version, while the other options do require the premium version.  It is great that they have a few remote options available in the free version.  I would encourage everyone to consider utilizing them as a way to add redundancy to your backups. 

You also have ability to choose what you want to put in the backup.  By default UpdraftPlus will exclude backup files and cache directories from being included, which is great for reducing the size of the backups.  You can add or remove what you would like from the wp-content directory.  Now, it should be noted that only the database and directories that hold content for your site are going to be part of the backup. 

Core WordPress files are not, since they can be easily found at https://wordpress.org/.

settingsAdvance Tools

Advance Tools has a lot of statistical information and premium features.  Under the site information you can see PHP information, and even get a phpinfo page, WordPress directory paths, etc.  Lock settings and search / replace are both premium features.  Lock settings will lock the settings page and search / replace is for when you migrate a site and need to run a search and replace on the database. 

One of my favorite tools from this section is Site size.  This panel will give you the size of your plugins, themes, and uploads.  This is a great way to get an idea of how large your backups will be. 

advance tools

Finally we have Export / import settings and wipe settings.  The Export / import section allows you to export your UpdraftPlus settings and import them to other WordPress sites.  Finally, wipe settings will bring UpdraftPlus to a stock configuration.

Backing up WordPress

To backup your WordPress site manually, you just go to the Backup /Restore section and click on Backup Now.  This will bring up a dialog box which will give you a couple of options.  The first option is if you want to include a database backup, with the premium version you can actually choose which tables get backed up.  The next option is for what file directories you want to backup. 

The third option is if you want it to be uploaded to your remote location.  The final option is if you want this backup to be excluded from any retention rules you have setup.  The backup process will depend on what you selected on how large each of the items are.  You do get to see a progress bar, so it will be able to keep track of everything. 

manual backup dialog box backup progress









Backups are stored in wp-content/updraft and are broken up into different zip files, with the exception of the database.  This makes it easy to extract on your local computer if you want to grab a specific item from it.  

backup directory

Managing WordPress Backups

Staying in the Backup / Restore section, you can manage your backups here.  You can upload backups files and rescan both local and remote storage for backups.  For the actual backup you can pick which backup data you want to download to your local computer or delete from the server.  Under actions you can pick to restore, delete the entire backup, or view the backup log. 

backup list

Restoring WordPress Backup

The restore function in UpdraftPlus is extremely flexible.  Instead of restoring the entire site, you have the ability to pick what you want to restore.  So, if you just want the Database restored you can just choose that, or if you just need the plugins restored because of a bad update  you can do that.  To restore, just click on the item you want and follow the prompts. 

When you restore something like plugins or themes, UpdraftPlus will move the current directory out of the way and once you have confirmed everything is working, you then delete the old directory.

plugin restore

  remove old directories








It is important to backup your website.  Not every hosting company will provide backups and even if they do, it is still good practice to have redundancy in place.  UpdraftPlus offers a lot in their free version, including access to couple of remote storage options.  I hope everyone takes the time to look into additional backup options for their WordPress site.