In this blog, I will be talking about how to backup WordPress website manually. By doing this important process manually, you will remove all reliance on 3rd parties like backup plugins and hosting companies. These services do back up your files, but if anything goes wrong on their end, you may lose your website and all of your hard work.
Another reason why I want to emphasize the importance of this process, is to prevent you from losing all your data and paying a lot of money to recover your website, if for example you get a hack. I have experienced this myself, having no files backed up, I lost everything I had on my site. If I knew the importance of manually securing my website files, I could have easily restored my site after being hacked from my latest back up.
Manually backing up your website files is not hard at all. I will take you step by step through this simple process. I will also go through how to organize your backs ups on your computer and even better, on your external hard drive. This is so if anything happens to your computer, you always have a secure offline back up.
For this tutorial, I will be showing you how to backup WordPress website manually with my hosting company; Siteground. If you are not using Siteground, don’t worry because all hosting companies have two things that we will be needing – phpMyAdmin and FileManager.
To learn how to backup WordPress website manually in an easier to follow video format, play the video below.
How to Backup WordPress Website Manually
I would highly recommend using Siteground. Out of all the hosting companies I have tested, they are the fastest, the most secure and have the best support – which is really helpful when you are just starting out. So if you do not have a hosting company currently or are looking to change, Siteground currently has a special pricing offer for all their packages for your first payment. If you would like, you can choose to purchase this deal through our referral link, which would be much appreciated as this helps us create more free content for our viewers.
Visit our referral link to view Siteground’s discounted price packages here:
1. Finding Out The Name Of The Directory Your Files Are Stored In
Once you log into your account on your hosting company, first you will need to go to your cPanel. In my case, we can see the button ‘Go To cPanel’ on the ’My Accounts’ page on Siteground. Your hosting company may have this in a different location.
However, every company should have a cPanel that you can visit. If you are having any problems trying to find your cPanel, you can just ask the customer support of your hosting company where it is located. In the cPanel, we have many options. The first step is to go to the WordPress area, so you can find out what directory your site has been installed to. To do this, you can click on WordPress under the ‘Autoinstallers‘ section.
If you scroll down, you will see all your current installations. For this tutorial, we will be following this zonnovate.com domain. Once you have found the website you will be backing up, follow to the right of the domain and select the pencil icon to edit.
You will then be taken to another page, where you should see next to directory, an address (/home/zonnovat/public_html). Select the whole address, right click and copy it.
2. Locating The Directory Your Files Are Stored In
The next step is to head back to the cPanel and scroll to FileManager under the ‘Files‘ section. Click on ‘FileManager‘ and press go. Now we are in the file manager area – this is where all your files for all of your websites are stored. So to find where your website files are, we will go to our main folder which is called ‘/home/zonnovat’ – the same as the start of the address that we found previously on Siteground: /home/zonnovat/public_html (view previous picture above).
Go into the main folder (/home/zonnovat) and scroll down to find the file with the rest of the address (/public_html) and open it up.
3. Compressing Your Files Into A .Zip
This zonnovat domain was the first domain I created on my Siteground hosting account and usually it will always be added to public_html. So most likely, if you’ve created only one website, it will be added to the public_html area. However, these steps are just to ensure you are in the right area where all your files are. So it’s always a great idea to go on WordPress and double check the directory like we have done.
Now you know that here are all your files, click the ‘Select All’ button.
Then, click ‘Compress’.
Choose ‘zip archive’ and give this file a name. Always ensure to not take off the ‘.zip’. In this case, I will name this file ‘backup_test’ and click ‘Compress File(s)‘.
4. Downloading Your Zip File To Your Computer
When the file loads up, you will get a screen showing all of your results, however you can just click ‘Close’. Finally, we will see our new zip file.
Click on it, go to the top of the page and click ‘Download’.
Here you can download the file to any location on your computer. We will be adding it to our downloads folder for now. Click ‘Save’ and wait for that to load.
5. Locating Your Website Database
Congratulations, we have now completed the first half of backing our website manually which is backing up our files. For the second half of this process, we will need to back up our database, which we can do in phpMyAdmin area.
But before doing that, we need to know what data base is associated with the website we are tying to back up. So in our case, we are trying to back up our website zonnovate.com. As you can see in the ‘Installation Details’, it shows the database name (zonnovat_zonno). Keep this in mind.
Go back to the cPanel area and find phpMyAdmin, which is under the ‘DATA BASE’ area. This area is quite common for most hosting companies to have the phpMyAdmin in.
Click on the phpMyAdmin icon and it will open a new tab where we will be redirected to phpMyAdmin page. It is quite similar to the FileManager layout, in the way that it has all the files on the left which are all of your databases. You will very likely only have a few here, however I have multiple websites.
The next step is to locate that zonnovat.zonno database, which is at the bottom on the left-hand side of the page.
6. Exporting and Downloading Your Database To Your Computer
Click on your database and it will open up all the files that it contains. We don’t have to worry about all of these files. All we need to do is go up to the top and click ‘Export’.
You will have two options, you can select quick which will display minimal settings, or you can press ‘Custom’ which will show you more advanced settings. We recommend not changing any settings especially if you are just starting out.
Now scroll all the way to the bottom and click ‘Go’. It will ask you where you would like to save your database to. We can save it to the downloads for now, like we did previously with the website files. Click ‘Save’ and wait for it to download.
7. Organizing Your WordPress Website Files On Your Computer
Now that your files and database are both in downloads, you can create a folder to store them in. Right click, create a new folder and name it your website name to make it easy to find. So in our example, we will call it ‘Zonnovate Backups’. Open the file you have now created and create a new folder inside of this. Name the new folder after the current date.
A good habit to get into is adding some extra information next to the date of your folder. If you’re making this back up before an important WordPress update, you can add that information next to the date with the number of the update.
This is so in the future, if you are browsing through all of your backups, you can easily distinguish between the files. Therefore, if you want to have a backup that was during a certain WordPress update. Or before a certain change that you made to your website, you can do this with much more ease.
Finally, once you have correctly named your folder, you can open it up and drag your files from your ‘downloads’ in, as well as your database. You have now learned how to backup WordPress website manually successfully!
8. Extra Safety For Backing Up WordPress Website
Now you have your files and database stored safely on your computer. But what if something happens to your computer? You may lose all of your files. A good idea is to take your file from your computer and put it on an external hard drive. This is to ensure if anything happens to your computer or if you lose your data for any reason, you will always have it stored safely on your offline backup. To add even more security, you can store these files on two hard drives. So if anything happens to one, you will always have the other.
Another important step to take once you have successfully backed up your WordPress files on your computer and on your hard drive, is to go back to the FileManager and make sure to delete the zip. So click on the zip file and select ‘Delete‘.
In the next blog, we will talk about how to restore your website from these two file backups. If you found this blog helpful please share it and join our newsletter to get notified whenever we post another helpful blog like this.
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