Have you backed up your WordPress lately? Maintenance activities such as upgrading WordPress or backing up my site rank at the top of my list of my least favorite things to do. I’d much rather write a blog post or check out a new plug-in. But this week I bit the bullet and spent some time on site maintenance.
Do I really need you to tell why backups and upgrades are important? Here’s one reason, WordPress’s popularity has not gone unnoticed by hackers and they are hard at work exploiting security vulnerabilities in the software. By upgrading to the latest version of WordPress you are at least installing the latest security fixes. That goes for your plugins as well.
Backup before you Upgrade
That one click upgrade for your site and plugins is tempting, but before you click the button, there are a few things you need to do first.
- Backup your database: Everything you care about is in your WordPress database. Your posts, your categories, your tags. If you just backup one thing, your database should be it. Your WordPress can be reconstructed – but the content on all your posts and your pages likely can not. To backup your database you will want to make an SQL export of your database. This will contain the SQL commands to recreate the tables and import in your content. How you do the export is host dependent. I log into phpadmin through my cPanel and click on “Export”. Here is more information on backing up your database.
- Backup your files: This is less important but could be really useful if you ever need to restore your site. Also after my malware experience, I like to look over things periodically. Use a ftp client like Filezilla and copy down all the files in your WordPress installation onto your local computer.
- Disable plugins Your plugins may not play nicely with your new version of WordPress, so disable them.
After all of this you are now ready to upgrade WordPress. I just use the Automatic upgrade by clicking on the link that appears in the Dashboard. You can of course do a manual upgrade which is much more involved.
Cleaning house – do you really need all those plugins?
Since you have taken the time to do some site maintenance, why not focus a little more attention on it? Upgrade any plugins that need it, and critically look at your plugin list and decide whether you still want to use all of them. For example, I had been quite irritated how slow my social media plugins made my site, so they haven’t been turned back on, and sure enough, the site is much snappier, confirming my suspicion that the social media buttons are the culprit. So for now they remain deactivated while I develop a different solution.
Backups are good – multiple and distributed backups are better
Keep a couple of the database backups around, so that if there is a problem with one of them you have another to fall back on. Better yet, make a copy of the sql file and store in on a backup service such as Mozy or even Dropbox so there is a copy somewhere other than your computer.