The most important maintenance task for any website is keeping regular backups. You should be backing up your website at least every week. That might seem like a lot if your content remains static, but a well-maintained website is also going to be receiving regular updates to the WordPress core software as well as plugins, and if something breaks you will be thankful that your backup strategy was thorough.
The easiest way to create backups of your WordPress website is using plugins. There are a lot of plugins to choose from, but the one that we recommend here at Pride Tech Design is called BackWPUp. This plugin is free, it creates backups of both your website files and your database, it allows you to schedule your backups so you can set it and forget it, and it allows you to save your backups to various cloud storage platforms, which you want to do.
BackWPUp has a lot of configuration options, many of which you can safely ignore. If you’re really uncertain of how to configure your backups, you should consult with a professional, but we will show you a standard configuration that works for most websites.
Add New Job
The first step is to give your new backup job a name. Something like “Weekly Backup” is adequate. Beneath the name field you’ll see “Job Tasks”. You can safely check all of these items however the essential ones you want are Database Backup and File Backup. You may also want to enable the Installed Plugin List.
Add New Job: Backup File Creation
In the next section you’ll see “Archive Name”, which allows you to configure the filename of your backups, using a number of variables which you’ll see on the screen. Unless you know what you’re doing here you should probably leave the default in place. After the Archive Name you will see “Archive Format”. If you work primarily in Windows, choose .Zip if it is available. .zip, .tar.gzip, and .tar.bzip2 are all fine, but you should not use .Tar because it does not compress the data, which results in a lot of wasted storage space.
Add New Job: Destination
This section allows you to choose one or more destinations for your backup file. These are mostly self-explanatory and the most important thing to consider is the security of the location. You need to be certain that wherever your backups are stored, only authorized users will have access to them. Your database backup will contain full details of your website’s administrator accounts so this is important.
The remaining options on this page can be left as default. You may want to configure an E-mail address for error reports. The next step is to switch to the “Schedule” tab at the top of the screen.
Now that you’ve created your backup job, we need to schedule it. By default it will only run when manually activated. You should select “WordPress Cron”, which will display a new section of options below, where you can schedule the time the job will run. This is the easiest method to schedule your backups.
Depending on what destinations you chose when creating the job, you will see additional tabs at the top. There are too many options to cover all of them in this article, but one important option is Number of Files to Keep. The best number for you is going to vary depending on the frequency of your backups. You should keep your backups for at least 90 days, so if you’re making weekly backups then you should keep at least ~15. If you’re taking daily backups then you would want ~90.
Once you have a good backup system in place, the next thing to cover is updating your website. By default your WordPress software should update itself automatically when new minor versions are released. Major versions are not updated automatically and this is for the best, so when a new major version is released you should log in to update it manually.
What are Major and Minor versions?
WordPress uses a versioning scheme like #.#.#, where the first digit is the “Major” version, the second and third digits are “Minor” updates. Major updates, that is, the first digit, will include significant changes to the software’s code, and the introduction of new features. Minor updates are usually bug fixes, or security patches. Some minor updates will include new features which were not ready in time for the Major update.
Plugin Updates, Automatic vs Manual
Updating the core WordPress software is important but equally important is updating your plugins. By default, WordPress plugins do not automatically update at all. There are a couple of ways that you can change this, the most easy being a free plugin Automatic Plugin Updates. It is important that you have a backup system in place before setting up automatic updates, so if you haven’t done that yet please scroll up and do that first.
If you prefer to update your plugins manually that is fine, but you need to ensure that you are doing it at least every week. New vulnerabilities are found in plugins every day, and hackers use these vulnerabilities to attack sites like yours, without concern for the content of your site or your global visibility. You can deploy manual plugin updates from the Plugins screen of your WordPress dashboard, or from the Updates screen.
Let Pride Tech Design help you
We understand some people do not have the time or confidence to perform these tasks. Your website is important and you need to have the peace of mind that it is being protected. We offer very low cost maintenance plans which will provide you with daily backups and updates of your WordPress website and plugins, with free restorations in case of problems. You can read more about these programs and sign up at our Maintenance Page.